“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
In the Old Testament there was a little boy who belonged in God’s Temple, because his mom had vowed to place him there. The boy’s name was Samuel. Recall that Hannah was childless. Desiring a son, she made a vow to the Lord: O LORD of Hosts, if only You will look upon the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, not forgetting Your maidservant but giving her a son, then I will dedicate him to the LORD all the days of his life (1 Sam 1:10). The Virgin Mary was childless, and when the angel Gabriel informed Mary of her savior-son she, like Hannah, declared herself to be the maidservant of the Lord. Observe also that Mary, paralleling what Hannah sang a thousand years earlier, sang her marvelous Magnificat (1 Sam 2:1-10; Lu 1:46-55). The two canticles are profoundly similar.
Because Hanna had promised the Lord that she would dedicate her son to His service, the young child Samuel was sent by his mother to reside and be trained in the Temple (Tabernacle). At the age of twelve Jesus went with his parents to the Temple. He explained why He—in a greater way than Samuel—belonged in God’s Temple: He belongs there because it is His Father’s house. In the Temple the Jewish leaders came to be impressed with Samuel’s wisdom; a thousand years later, in a way far transcending Samuel, the Jewish leaders would be impressed with the wisdom of the 12-year old Jesus.
As he resided and was trained in the temple, Samuel matured wonderfully. Thus the text explains, Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man. (1 Sam 2:26). No doubt the Evangelist Luke had this text in mind when he explained of Jesus, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Lu 2:52).
Samuel became one of God’s greatest prophets. He also became (evidently by adoption) a priest in God’s temple (1 Sam 2:35; 7:9). Samuel, with his priestly privileges, poured the holy anointing oil upon Israel’s first kings, thus establishing a king over Israel. Christ Jesus relates to all three of these offices as he, in the highest sense possible, is God’s prophet, God’s priest and the King of kings.
Indeed the Lord Jesus is foreshadowed by the great Samuel of old. This should not surprise us, for the Christ is foreshadowed by most major figures in the Old Testament (e.g. Adam, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Moses, Joshua [Moses’ successor], Joshua [great high priest], Samson, David). These men are but shadows; Jesus is the substance, the full meaning behind what they foreshadowed.
Jesus as the Son of God rightly stands within His Father’s house. In the book of Proverbs we find the ideal son of God. For instance in Proverbs 3:1,4 God says, My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments…So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Sound familiar? Sunday’s Gospel explains, Jesus grew…in favor with God and man. He is God’s ideal son, perfectly heeding God’s teachings and commandments, as directed in Proverbs 3.
Finally, recall how God’s great men of old endured suffering for the sake of His people. As Proverbs 3:11,12 would also explain, My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Thus, in the greatest way possible God’s Son received the discipline of the Lord at the cross, bearing the griefs, sorrows and sins of all mankind. So what is the point? Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, for even as a boy of 12 He is fulfilling Old Testament types and prophecies, standing at every age of His life as our perfect Lord and Savior.