Scripture Reading – Luke 2:40-52 (AMP):
 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.  Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year to the Passover Feast.  And when He was twelve years [old], they went up, as was their custom.  And when the Feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this.  But, supposing Him to be in the caravan, they traveled on a day’s journey; and [then] they sought Him [diligently, looking up and down for Him] among their kinsfolk and acquaintances.  And when hey failed to find Him, they went back to Jerusalem, looking for Him [up and down] all the way.  After three days they found Him [came upon Him] in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
 And all who heard Him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His intelligence and understanding and His replies.
Now Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year to the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, today known as a “preteen”, the family all went according to custom [Exodus 12:1-11]. PASSOVER was a New Year’s celebration on the Jewish Calendar for Israel.
A traveled day’s journey in Biblical times was estimated 20-25 miles [Bible Study Tools – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia].
My idea today for celebrating New Years is to watch the fireworks at the Seattle Space Needle…on television. Are we spoiled or what?
And when the Celebration has ended, as they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem.
His parents didn’t know it, but supposing him to be in the group, traveled approximately 24 miles before they noticed his absence. In today’s culture, they would have sent out an AMBER ALERT.
Joseph and Mary then began to search for him among relatives and acquaintances in the caravan and when they couldn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After three days…
After a frantic search, they found their boy in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
The childhood and youth of Jesus were normal in many ways.
As a Jewish boy, he experienced the same things that other children experienced at his age. It was customary for Jewish families to go to Jerusalem for the Passover each year. Even though it was required only of men, many times it became a family excursion. So the family of Jesus followed this Jewish custom.
During the twelfth year of a boy’s life, they begin to assume the responsibilities to the LAW.
On the 13th birthday, a Jewish boy is accepted as a full “son of the Law” [Bar mitzvah – son of law]. He became responsible to obedience to the law.
Normally a boy would be taken to the Passover during his twelfth year preparing him for the responsibility of observing the law. This is the significance of the incident in the life of Jesus at the age of twelve.
Leaving Jesus Behind.
The leaving of Jesus behind in Jerusalem is a kind of thing that could happen to any family in a large, overcrowded environment. It didn’t suggest neglect on the part of his parents. Ordinarily, the women would leave before the men on a journey because they walked slower, and the men and boys would follow later. So Mary assumed that Jesus was with Joseph and the men, while Joseph assumed that he was with Mary and the children.
It wasn’t until they met at the end of the day that they noticed Jesus wasn’t there. It made it necessary to return to Jerusalem and search the city for three days until they found him.
The unusual thing about THIS twelve-year-old was where they found him.
But there he was! In the Temple taking advantage of the opportunity of learning from the teachers of the Law.
What more than likely amazed the learned teachers gathered about was that any twelve-year-old boy knew the Torah. But this twelve-year-old boy not only knew the Law, he knew it inside out understanding the meaning–THAT was remarkable!
JESUS Is Our Model –
First We Can Learn About Our Priorities In Our Lives (vv. 48-49 KJV):
This exchange between Joseph and Mary with Jesus needs close attention.
It was a REBUKE by Mary, because of the anxiety she felt from Jesus’ disappearance–losing your child’s presence and then finding them.
Naturally, Mary was very upset and worried when she finally found Jesus in the Temple (v. 48). She might have said even more had the circumstances been a little different. It may have diluted her response a little because they were in the Temple in the presence of scholars of the Law. But her words expressed how she felt. Real ANXIETY looking for him.
Evidently, Jesus had been so absorbed in the experience of listening to the teaching in the temple that he was oblivious to almost everything else. He was amazed that his parents wouldn’t understand his interest in and presence in the Temple (v.49):
“Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (NAS Bible)
This statement reveals the RELATIONSHIP THAT WILL RECEIVE PRIORITY.
Mary spoke of Joseph as the father of Jesus. Joseph was the one who had the fatherly responsibility for him, but Jesus reveals a much deeper awareness.
He speaks of “My Father”.
The words spoken by Jesus suggest that He is committed to giving relationship PRIORITY over every other relationship of His life.
As the adult life of Jesus’ life unfolds, this is obviously the PRIORITY by which He lives; but it didn’t begin when He was an adult. It began in the early days of His life voiced by Him when he was twelve!
In VERSE 49, Jesus is emphatic when He says, “I had to be in My Father’s house.”
Literally, it would read “My Father’s things.” This meaning is the same essentially whether you understand “things”, or “house”.
“Had to be” in some translations is a strong word from the Greek language. It’s the word that speaks of “divine necessity.”
The word “MUST” is the better idea.
Jesus realizes at the age of twelve that his first responsibility in life is to do the will of His Heavenly Father–and His first interest must be the things of the Father.
The most important house then must be the Father’s house!
I learned when I was a young father many years ago that children can begin to determine their PRIORITIES very early in their lives: Going out to brunch after church on Sundays; cleaning of their rooms before going outside to play…
We are not told that Jesus established them at twelve, but we are allowed to see they are already in place.
For all of us, and especially young people now is the time to determine what comes FIRST in your life. If you’ll get the PRIORITIES in place, the other decisions that arise in life will fall into their proper position.
What We Can Learn from Jesus about the Value of Submission (vv. 50-51 NLT):
 Yet his parents did not understand the remark he made to them.
 Then he went with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. But his mother kept all these things in her heart.
This action doesn’t conflict with the PRIORITIES that have already been established. In fact, they are an expression of the priorities that He has just stated.
The FIRST submission of Jesus was to God, and then to His parents.
Jesus’ submission to His parents was voluntary. And children who do not learn to SUBMIT their lives to God, usually have difficulty submitting their lives to their parents.
There is no suggestion that Jesus’ response to His parents was to the pressures they put on Him. Rather, as a part of His daily life as a twelve-year-old, He voluntarily gave Himself to a life of OBEDIENCE to His parents. This is the only kind of submission that has any value.
SUBMISSION that is forced can actually have the same qualities as REBELLION.
Every young person, every child needs to learn a valuable lesson here from Jesus. His parents were not perfect, but He knew that they were God’s appointed GUARDIANS of His ways, so He submitted to them. This SUBMISSION was part of the preparation for what God had sent Him into the world to do!
We Can Learn from Jesus about Growth in Our Lives (v.52)
 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in the favor with God and man. (NIV Bible)
In VERSE 40, Luke had written, “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”
This faces us with the mystery of Jesus’ life.
We know that He was the INCARNATION of the living God, the Son of God. Yet the incarnation was such that growth was necessary for His life.
He grew just like every other child must grow and we can learn from His growth the importance of balance.
LEARNING TO USEFUL –
- He grew physically for “he grew in stature.” Physical growth is important.
- He grew mentally for He “grew in wisdom.” Through His study at the feet of Mary; His involvement at the local synagogue; His visits to the Temple as He grew in His understanding of the Truth of God.
- He grew spiritually, for He grew “in favor with God.”
Never a moment was He not totally pleasing to God, but in order for that to occur, He must continually GROW SPIRITUALLY.
Jesus was perfectly where a twelve-year-old should be in spiritual growth at the age of twelve. But at the beginning of a ‘teens’ life, He was perfectly where a thirteen-year-old should be. And as it was always.
- And then He grew socially, for he was “in favor with men.”
His ability to relate to others in an acceptable way grew normally and perfectly.
Many of our children today, including our church kids, are not growing in this way. They may be growing physically and mentally, but the social and spiritual way may be stunted.
JESUS MODELS GROWTH for us all and it should be balanced.
The Growth of The Preteen Jesus Teaching of Patience –
- Jesus was PATIENT for the process of life to take its course. He was PATIENT to keep on growing until the Lord God said that it was time to begin His ministry. He didn’t get ahead of God but waited on Him. He waited until the age of thirty before He started the mission that the Lord God had given Him and continued not to be impatient for God’s timing in His life.
“My Hour Has Not Come”
This is such an important lesson, one that I continue to learn, and one to learn, especially for young people today!
DO NOT GET IMPATIENT with God and with life.
Just keep on establishing the right priorities, submitting to the rightful authority and go on growing as a person, and in God’s timing (not yours), He will launch you forward on His mission. He will open the right doors for you!
No detail of the life of our Lord and Savior is without significance.
The little details are significant for all of us to take in. It helps us see the PLAN of God for His children and youth today. Jesus walked the way we should all walk in these matters.
Commentaries: Dr. G. Flattery – Luke 2:41-52; “My Father’s Business” – Global Christian Center.
Growing Up God’s Way by Jeremy Meyers.
PHOTOS: Google Image Search.
Bible Translations Used: The New International Version (NIV), except where noted.