Learning To Be Patient from the Life of A Preteen? Really??

Scripture Reading – Luke 2:40-52 (AMP):

[40] And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.  [41] Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year to the Passover Feast.  [42] And when He was twelve years [old], they went up, as was their custom.  [43] And when the Feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem.  Now His parents did not know this.  [44] 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.  [45] And when hey failed to find Him, they went back to Jerusalem, looking for Him [up and down] all the way.  [46] 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.

[47] 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):

[50] Yet his parents did not understand the remark he made to them.  

[51] 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)

[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 –

Dr. Luke points out that He grew physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially:

  • 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.

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CREDITS:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s Been Long Enough–Now Grow Up!”

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH–Chapter 28:10, 13:

“[10] For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  [13] But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and spared, and taken.”  (King James)

I love the way THE MESSAGE Bible words these two verses:  “Da, da, da, da, blah, blah. That’s a good little girl. that’s a good little boy.”

The Amplified Bible reads,  “Precept upon precept, rule upon rule”–

Well that’s sounds much clearer…or, does it?  At first glance, it sounds like BABY TALK.

USUALLY INTERPRETED…

The words are usually interpreted to mean “life is like that–when constructing a house you put ‘brick upon brick’ [“precept upon precept”] until the building is up.  Or in writing a blog; you put ‘sentence upon sentence’ until the blog is ready to post; made public.

My wife was just explaining to me this morning how she paints on a canvas; putting down layer upon layer of paint in giving the picture depth.  I immediately responded to her saying, “That’s just like it says in the Bible, ‘precept upon precept.’

But is that what this bible expression means?  Let’s take a closer look:

[10] “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”  (KJV).

[13]  “Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them [merely monotonous repeatings of] precept upon precept, precept upon precept; rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little; that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken”  (AMP Bible).

If we spell the Hebrew words in our alphabet, it would look like this, “tsav latsav tsav latsav – kav, lakav kav lakav”. The repetition of single syllables reminds me of BABY’S FIRST WORDS we delight to hear as parents,  “Ma Ma,” “Da Da.”

By the way, I found in my DETECTIVE investigation a word, made-up of repeated mono-syllables, “murmur” [Mur Mur] in 1 Corinthians 10:10 (ASV):

[10] “Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.”

“Ma Ma”, “Da Da”, “Mur Mur”

Perhaps the message is, “grumbling” (the word used in the NIV) is a rather childish behavior.

What then, do the Hebrew words mean?

–The word “Tsav” signifies a little precept, such as “is suited to the capacity of a child” (Adam Clarke).

–The word “Kav” signifies the line that a mason would stretch out building a layer of stones or a brick wall.  After one layer or course is placed, the line is raised and another layer is added.  Thus “line upon line” is used until the building is complete.

ISAIAH’S MESSAGE:

His message has to do with TEACHING:

(verse 9)  “To whom will He teach knowledge?”

At first glance, this sounds like a POSITIVE thing.  After all, this is how young children learn (or suppose to learn).  BUT the point made here is that the prophet’s audience are no longer children that Isaiah is addressing.  However, due to their unwillingness to move on in their relationship with God, he must treat them as little babies; keep going back to the primitive methods, “tsav latsav tsav latsav – kav lakav kav lakav’ – “precept upon precept, rule (or “line”) upon rule.”

I remember my parents telling me in growing up, “Mel, if you would have listened and obeyed the first time we told you so, we wouldn’t have to keep saying the same thing over and over again.”

When the people heard Isaiah talk this way, like a teenager might do today, they started mocking the prophet as they staggered through the streets in town (Isaiah 28:7).

The Time is Now to Take Full Responsibility for our Own Relationship with God.

That’s making sure that our lives are fulfilling in the God-given purpose for our being here in this world.  That we are LIVING in a way that is pleasing to Him.  The plain (let’s say “crude”) way to say it is, “GROW UP ALREADY!”

ENCOURAGEMENT GIVEN TO US TO “GROW UP” SPIRITUALLY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT:

The apostle Peter recognizes as new Christians, we are likened to “babies” who need milk for nourishment–a tasty, warm, liquid that can be ingested using an instinctive muscle system–SUCKING.  Now there’s a striking picture on Sunday mornings: A bunch of “sucking” Christians in the church building.

#1.  This is what Peter writes:

“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.  [2] Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,  [3] Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord”  (1 Peter 2:1-3 AMP).

Yes, we start with milk, but then GROWTH is expected:

[3] “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).  [5] For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),  [6] And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),  [7] And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.  [8] For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  [9] For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] short-sighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.”  (2 Peter 1:3, 5-9 AMP).

“MAKE EVERY EFFORT” (NIV) or “EXERCISE and DEVELOP” (AMP)–

We each bear the responsibility in our own spiritual growth in the development of our character.  Quit assigning the responsibility to your pastor/teacher.

#2.  Paul also understood this matter of moving from childhood to adulthood.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside”  (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Earlier, in the same church letter, Paul gave his teaching in the need to move from “milk” to “solid food”:

“HOWEVER, BRETHREN, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to non-spiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]  [2] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you are not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it],  [3] For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under control of ordinary impulses].  For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?”  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 AMP).

The parallel here in these verses is between “worldly” and the “infantile.”  The CONNECTION is that being immature, they were not standing up against the world’s point of view around them–they were demonstrating attitudes and behaviors like those seen in the world–jealousy and quarrels.

#3.  The Third Time on the subject of Moving from Milk to Meat.

The Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:12-14):

“For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.  [13] For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!  [14] But solid food is for full-grown men, for those senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”

The point here is that we no longer need to be given the same old rules and regulations on how we are to live in righteousness.  We no longer need “precept upon precept, line upon line.” 

We’ve now come to the place where we have trained ourselves to be able to distinguish what is right and wrong.  As my folks would tell me, “You should know by now the difference between what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.”

But again notice where the responsibility lies, “to full-grown men [the mature]…have trained themselves.”

THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH DOESN’T START WITH THE CHURCH:

The responsibility doesn’t begin with your pastor/teacher either but with each individual. 

Coming to church, reading the Word, and praying is less like going to eat at a restaurant, and more like spending time at a grocery store.  The money is in our pockets, the food is in the store, but it is our responsibility to find, buy and prepare food providing nourishment necessary for our health, growth and strength.

No longer may we expect someone else to lay it all out for us, “precept upon precept, line upon line” or “rule upon rule.”  It is our responsibility and true maturity only happens when we are willing to accept that responsibility.  And only then will we avoid the judgement of God in the “last day.”

“Milk is Good but Filet Mignon is Better!”

A recently released study by a Christian research organization shows that churchgoers do not read or study the Bible on a daily basis.

Transformational Discipleship Assessment released by Life Way Research noted that 19% of respondents report reading or studying the Bible ‘outside’ of church “every day.”  By contrast, 36% said they either engage their Bible “once a week”, “once a month”, or a “few times a month.”  And to my surprise, 18% reported rarely or never reading or studying the Bible outside of worship.

Scott McConnell, director of Life Way Research told this to the Christian Post:

“Regular Bible engagement is both personal and requires discipline.  Neither are popular in Western culture today.  Too many churchgoers want the benefits of salvation without investing in personally knowing Christ and the abundant life He offers.”

“MILK” or “MEAT” — SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY or SPIRITUAL MATURITY?

“Gala” in the Greek language is the word used for MILK.  Figuratively speaking, MILK is the Word of God used to nourish newborn babes in Christ.  So if all you’re taking for nourishment is the “milk of God’s word, the basic elements, you must be a “baby.”

If I may so bold, I would like to ask 4- important questions before concluding my message:

1.  Are you still on a “milk only” diet spiritually?

2.  Are you still reading devotionals which include a few tidbits of Scripture?  Like a baby in the high chair, going from “sucking” on the milk bottle’s nipple to “solid” finger food.

3.  Are you reading “Christian books” instead of The Book?

4.  Are you primarily listening to tapes or CD’s rather than your primary Teacher, the Holy Spirit?

If your answers are yes to all of the questions or even one yes…you need to change your dietary habits.  It’s been long enough–it’s time to GROW UP!