The “Hidden Years” of Jesus (Luke 2:21-52) -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 08:2 (Winter 1999)
Article: The “Hidden Years” of Jesus (Luke 2:21-52)
Author: David J. MacLeod

The “Hidden Years” of Jesus
(Luke 2:21-52)

David J. MacLeod1


Evangelical theologian and Bible teacher, Frederick Dale Bruner, says there are two major lectures or courses that the Holy Spirit would have every Christian hear and understand. The first is on the true deity of Jesus Christ, and the other is on His true humanity. To put this another way, the Holy Spirit has two major works. He first brings Christ down to earth and makes Him real and human for us. And second He lifts Him up and teaches us that He is Lord, that is, that He is God (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3).2 In the words of the great Creed of Chalcedon (a.d. 451), “We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood: truly God and truly man.”3

In an earlier article on the birth of Christ I drew attention to our Lord’s full deity.4 He is the eternal Son who was sent into this world for our redemption (cf. Gal. 4:4–5). In this present study I want to turn your attention to the true humanity of the Lord as it is seen in His growth during the years of His childhood and youth.

Sometime ago William MacDonald, former President of Emmaus Bible College, sat across a dinner table and said to me, “The Brethren are very jealous of the true deity of Christ.” That is true of the Brethren as it is of every truly evangelical denomination or fellowship of churches. And, as the noted Bible teacher agreed, we should be equally jealous of the true humanity of Christ.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries most attacks on the person of Christ have centered on His true deity. Many Christians today do not realize that many of the earliest heresies of the Christian church were attacks on our Lord’s true humanity. A summary of some of these early heresies will be helpful in alerting us to a danger that exists in the thinking of some even today:

The Docetists (a.d. 70–170) denied the reality of Christ’s human body. The word “docetist” comes from the Greek word δοκέω (dokeō) which means “to seem,” or “to appear.” Jesus, they said, only appeared to be a man. They were Gnostic in their thinking. The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word γνῶσις

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