Good News for Bad Kids

It’s that time of year I used to dread as a child (maybe even more as a parent), the time for end-of-year school reports when teachers issue reports on the progress of their students in various subjects.

The last couple of days, we’ve been looking at Jesus’ report card in Luke 2, verses 40-52. There, we find the heavenly Father’s assessment of His Son in the most important subjects of life. No, not algebra, English, history, etc., but obedience, teachability and love.

Maybe, like some others, you felt convicted and condemned by such a profile. “I wasn’t a godly child. … I’m not even a godly adult. … I still fail in all these areas.”

Or perhaps your parents gave you the articles to read and you said, “Right, I’m going to try much harder today. I’m going to obey perfectly, learn perfectly and even love my brother.”

Hmm, how’s that working out for you? Didn’t last long, did it? You probably feel more ungodly than ever don’t you?

I have a bit of good news for you. Four bits, to be precise.

1. Christ’s life for us

I used to dream that maybe one day the teachers would get mixed up and mistakenly send me home with the class genius’ report card. With Christ’s coming, that dream has come true and is even better than I could have imagined. Jesus lived the perfect childhood, the perfect life, that we did not, are not and cannot. He then puts our name on the top and says, “Take it to Father.” And that’s not a mistake.

2. Christ’s death for us

But what about all my tardies, demerits, suspensions, lines, expulsions, etc? You can’t just kid on they never happened, can you. No, Jesus doesn’t whitewash our sins; He bloodwashes them. He died a death that covers our failed attempts to be godly children.

3. Christ’s sympathy for us

“No one understands me. … No one listens to me. … Mom and Dad just don’t get it.” Well, whether or not Mom and Dad remember what it’s like to be a teenager in a world full of temptations, Jesus does. Yes, God knows what it is like to be a child—a baby, a toddler, an infant, a teenager, etc. He remembers perfectly, understands perfectly and sympathizes perfectly. He gets it.

4. Christ’s life in us

And what about going forward? The exams, trials, tests and temptations never stop. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could rent a really big brain now and again? But we can have even better, because Christ promises to live permanently inside us if we build our whole lives on His life, His death and His sympathy.

Obedience, teachability and love don’t look so scary now, do they?  

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Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.