Incarnational Learning: the Provision, Promise, and Purpose for Human Growth


Over the last month, I’ve meditated on Jesus’ incarnation through a lens I’ve never used before: the lens of transformative, whole-person learning. It dawned on me during my Advent devotions that Jesus, Great High Priest, perfectly embodied human learning. Though very God and in full possession of His attributes—including omniscience—Jesus submitted to this very human process, enabling us to follow in His footsteps.

In the next blog post, I will share the compiled entries that unpack “whole-person” incarnational learning in Jesus. Today, I want to give an introduction through a developmental approach. The language I use below reflects familiar ideas and vocabulary to those with background in educational psychology. The beauty of these thoughts (borrowed and paraphrased from The Life Model by Friesen, Wilder, Bierling, Koepcke, and Poole) presses into my understanding of Christian maturity: the provision we have for maturity in Christ, the promise maturity will be brought to completion in our lives by His Spirit, and the purpose the Father gives for and through our maturity.

Jesus serves as the Great High Priest for every age and stage of humanity. As well as submitting to maturing in every dimension of His being, He graduated through each developmental level on our behalf—with Highest Honors.

My thoughts launch from both the epistle of Hebrews and Luke’s gospel. Confessionally: Current relational challenges in my life motivate my written thoughts as these passages from scripture. I need to understand from a godly point of view—specifically from the point of view of the Incarnate Son of God—that developmental stages in our children’s lives as well as our own are right and good, in spite of human sin and brokenness which have cursed and complicated the process.

I will keep my thoughts here brief in hopes they will be enough to stimulate your thought, encourage further meditation, or reinforce what you already know—bringing encouragement to your heart as you engage your own work in the developmental stages in your children, your other relationships, and even in your own individual stage of maturity.



Human Development/Learning through the lens of Christ Incarnate:


Jesus as infant learned to receive (Infancy: birth to three years old). See Luke 2:7-39.

Jesus as child learned responsibility for Himself (Child: four to 12 years old). See Luke 2:40-52.

Jesus as adolescent/adult learned responsibility for self in relationship to others  (Adolescent: 13 until, typically, the birth of first child). See Luke 3:21-6:16.

Jesus as parent (modelled in His relationship with His disciples) learned sacrificial care for His children. See Luke chapter 6 through 22:40 for the bulk of Jesus’ ministry. 

Jesus as elder learned sacrificial care for His community (His death for all sinners). See Luke 22:41-23:47.



Christian maturity means we increasingly emulate Jesus. We are not left to accomplish His model in our own strength, nor to accomplish it in our children’s lives. He has provided all we need for life and godliness: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” see Ephesians 4:11-13 (ESV).


In order for my children to progress through Christian maturity, they need increasingly more of Christ and less of me. My teen daughters need more freedom and responsibility. They need for me to get out of the way and allow them to try, fail, sin, recognize their need for and receive the grace of Christ’s record (justification) and the teaching of the Holy Spirit (sanctification) for the purpose the Father set before them: increased intimacy with Him and sacrificial service in a manner that draws others into His kingdom.


Pray for me as I pray for you in this! Let us trust our Incarnate Lord Jesus who has gone before us and our children in this. Questions, thoughts, concerns? Email me at : kreed@wng.orgI’m listening!

Kelsey Reed

Kelsey Reed

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