During our family vacation this year, my brother-in-law asked what he considers to be one of the ultimate questions: “Did Jesus have to learn the scriptures?” How you answer this question will determine much of how you interpret the rest of the bible.
Here is the direction I’m heading.
1) Yes, Jesus the man had to hear the scriptures read for the first time as a young boy in the synagogue. He listened for the first time as the very words he inspired were spoken. Yet, as infinite God, he was also filled with all wisdom and understanding, so that as the words were spoken the Holy Spirit illumined his mind to understand them in all there complexity immediately. As each new passage was read, it seems to me the light was constantly flashing around in his mind with profound insight.
The Son of God in this sense was much like us. Whereas it takes us years upon years of hard work to grasp the smallest truths and all this by the Holy Spirit opening our eyes, so too Jesus gain understanding through the illuminating of the Holy Spirit.
2) But, I would not limit his knowledge to the scriptures. This next one is an argument from the lesser to the greater. If the prophets of old and the holy apostles gained entrance into the very presence of God and were shown things that it is not permitted for man to speak, how much more likely is it that the Son of God would be every caught up into the third heavens constantly to, as Moses did, speak face to face with his heavenly Father? Just as the prophets and the apostles were not limited in the knowledge and understand to those things that had already been revealed, but were revealed new things to speak to the God’s people, so to Jesus was surely given great understand, even as a young child, perhaps an infant, into the deep mysteries of God.
If John the Baptist could leap for joy at the voice of Mary (the bearer of the Son of God), so too the infant Jesus could leap for joy at the voice of his Father in sweet dreams at night. When Jesus speaks of having seen the Father, I don’t think he is referring merely to some pre-human experience, though certainly that is meant as well, rather, he is saying as Isaiah says, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.”
Yes his cognition was gradual and ever growing, but it seems to me that it was growing at a Holy Spirit rate. If Paul can pray that “17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Eph 1:17-19 ESV), certainly this desired spirit of wisdom and understanding were given to the God-child.
Our labor in study is the way we do battle with our bodies to gain heaven, but the Christ-child did not labor is vain. The fruit of his every labor and study must certainly have been blessed with bountiful fruit at every stage. Infinite fruit beyond man’s understanding.