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Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
39 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him. – Luke 2:36-40
James Dobson tells the story of Ryan, his son when he was a toddler. Seems he had wanted to get up onto the back of a pickup truck and he didn’t quite make it. His center of gravity was tugging him one way as he fought to get up. His feet were dangling a foot above the ground and he was calling, “Help the boy! Will someone please help the boy!”
I love that image. We can relate, can’t we? Half way to a goal, dangling over the edge. Not wanting to let go of our progress, but unable to make it all the way by ourselves. Help the boy! Help the girl! Would someone please help me?
Lose those last 10 pounds. Gain control of our spending. Finish the home improvement project. Clean out the closet. Clean out the computer files(!). So close. But so much in need of help. Sad the person who cannot admit to his need. Sad the one who just gives up. Sad the person who is chronically stuck in the mire of their half-way efforts.
We don’t often think of Jesus as needing help. He is the Son of God after all. He is the Word who was in the beginning with God; who was God. He is the one to whom every knee will bow. He is the alpha and the omega.
But Jesus does need help. He cannot do the things required of in the Law of Moses. He had to rely on his parents to bring him to the temple. He had to rely on the priests to perform their duties. He had to live from his earliest age in dependance and obedience to his parents. He would need to learn and grow and become a man in the truest and fullest sense. Why would he choose to put himself in that situation?
Jesus did all this in order to redeem and save us. He took on human flesh, not just as a skin coat, but as a real baby, infant, toddler, adolescent, and man. In every way tempted as we are, yet without sin. But even more than that, subject to the same limitations as all people. And he would do it perfectly.
Jesus submitted to needing help so that he could help us eternally and retain a heart for us in the midst of a world in which we all need help. So I rejoice today in this, that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).