Jesus Christ: An Illustration of Growth
Do you remember a time when you really pleased a parent or a teacher with some evidence of growth? Have you ever seen a little boy trying to stand tall beside his father? I remember visiting one home where the two boys had marked the father’s height on the wall. Below it were a variety of dates and measurements to compare the boys’ progress. We have seen that our heavenly Father desires our maturity so we may fellowship with Him. We need to grow and fulfill God’s purpose for creating us in His image.
Perhaps maturing as a believer seems hard to understand. “What does Christian maturity look like?” you may ask. The little boys I just mentioned had a visual goal. They knew their father. They could measure his height. It was not hard for them to picture their own progress toward his likeness.
That’s our purpose in this lesson. We want to clearly define Christian maturity in terms of goals we can visualize. The Bible is an open book. Jesus often taught in parables which were word pictures taken from the people’s common experiences. We will discover that the Bible’s standards for growth are clear and relate to each one of us.
GETTING A GOAL TO GROW TOWARD
We have already seen in Ephesians 4:13 that God intends us to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” The original language of the New Testament is actually “a mature manhood” or we might say “a complete person or a fully grown person.”
The word stature means “height or quality gained by growth.” Jesus Christ did not come to us as an adult, but as a baby who had to grow like each of us.
Since Jesus always had sinless spiritual perfection He is a perfect model for our growth in all areas (Hebrews 4:15). Although we cannot expect to reach sinless spiritual perfection, Christlikeness is a realistic goal for our spiritual growth because working toward a goal beyond what we can expect to reach will help us to accomplish more than a lesser goal.
You can see why Jesus is often referred to as our brother (Hebrews 2:11–12, 17). If you have an older brother, you know the influence he has as the firstborn and thus the first one in the family to mature.
Carefully read Hebrews 2:10 and write it in your notebook. Do you see that Jesus, having grown or been made perfect, is thereby able to lead other sons into God’s full purpose? Doesn’t that encourage you in your own desire to grow up as a Christian?
SEEING HOW JESUS GREW
We have seen that Jesus Christ is to be our example, and His stature our goal. To be specific, the Bible shows that Jesus grew or matured in four basic areas.
Can you relate these four areas to areas in which you must grow? Do you see why the verse we learned in 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to grow in the “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? As we learn about His life, we will better understand the goal and purpose of our own maturity as believers.
The Bible teaches us that Christian maturity in the physical sense involves much more than the simple growth of the body. It involves an understanding of the purpose of the body. Physical maturity for the believer involves conducting the body in a way pleasing to God the Father. The following Scriptures will help you to understand this area and form Christian physical habits: 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8; 1 Corinthians 6:9–15, 18–19; 1 Timothy 4:8; Galatians 6:7–8. Please write these Scriptures in your notebook under the heading “Physical.”
The human mind is a wonderful gift from God. Yet, have you ever noticed how difficult it is to keep the mind under control? It is easy to allow the mind to wander and even to think unchristian thoughts. No wonder Peter told the Christians “Prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13). Jesus teaches that the mind is really a problem area in our lives.
Christian growth involves the social aspect of our lives as well as the physical and mental aspects. You could list many areas of your social experience: family, friends, marriage, government, neighbors, and so forth. It would be impossible to list or discuss in this course all the Scriptures in this area.
LEARNING ABOUT JESUS’ IMAGE
Some biblical principles seem hard to understand. We have already discovered that God has set us apart to become many brothers (Romans 8:29). Perhaps you are asking, “How can I be like Jesus?” That question arises when we remember He was sinless and God in human form. Let us understand a simple but important point: It is in the role of servants that we become like Jesus.
Do you understand now why Paul, James, Jude, and others identified themselves as servants of Jesus Christ? That is how we become like Jesus. We are not saved from sin for the sake of salvation only, we are saved to serve. We accept a relationship of obedience to Jesus Christ. He becomes our Master and we become love-servants to His will. Salvation, with its joys, victory, and freedom, is more than an experience. Through salvation we are
brought into the true understanding of our purpose. We are created to glorify God. Our goal is to be conformed to Jesus Christ and thus restored to true fellowship with God. Such a relationship fulfills man’s deepest desire for purpose in life. We should all declare with Paul the apostle: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).