Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
– Mark 1:14-15
What was going on during the first 30 years of Jesus’ life, before the “time was fulfilled”? Before he stepped into the public eye with people constantly following His every move? I was listening to a sermon recently that spoke about Jesus’ earthly ministry being 3 years while it took 30 years of long prep work. Thirty years. God’s own Son had to be trained for that long before God called Him to do God’s work.
As Christians, we may think that once we’re Christians, we should be doing all these things we feel God has called us to do right at that very moment. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do things God has called us to do; we should be practicing Christ’s love through our actions. But we should remember: if it took Jesus a few years before going about God’s business, we need to make sure we’re prepping ourselves and patiently waiting for God’s direction and call before starting a ministry of our own.
While the Bible is pretty descriptive about the things Jesus did during the 3.5 years after he finished His training, it’s kind of scarce when it comes to facts about the first 30 years of Jesus’ life.
We know that:
A. Jesus was growing both physically and spiritually – filled with and increased in wisdom. “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). He went from being called “Child” to “Jesus” within a few verses. The Bible even talks about Jesus increasing in height (stature)! The time of growth is critical.
– How many times do we ask for wisdom each day? How do we go about getting wisdom? (You can read about how to get wisdom here: James 1:4-8)
– How patient are we while we wait on God?
I’ll be the first to admit, asking for wisdom and being patient aren’t my strongest qualities! But Christ’s example is clear to us about the fact that these two things are important for our growth.
B. Jesus’ response was obedience to God’s call – at the right time.
We’ve heard it said that timing is everything. While timing is important, our response to God’s timing is just as crucial.When the time came, Jesus started the ministry without hesitation once the timing was fulfilled.
– What is your response when God calls? His calling may be asking you to be forgiving when someone hurts you. His calling may be to pick up the phone and ask someone else about their day. Do you obey?
C. Jesus had to fight off the enemy during His time of growth by relying on God alone.
The temptation of Christ is famous and known throughout religions and cultures. When was Jesus tempted? During a time of physical weakness. His strength came from relying on God alone. There will be times during our period of growth when we have no one but God to rely on for strength. God doesn’t leave us alone.
And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
– Mark 1:13
There are more things we could learn about the first 30 years of Jesus’ life, but I challenge us to remember what Jesus went through before He really started His ministry. Being like Jesus each day is very difficult, but I know that Jesus grew up like all of us and understands our humanness. Every day we’re alive, we have the opportunity to be more like Christ. Use your years of growth wisely and rely on God completely, just as Jesus did!