What was Jesus like growing up? We know that he was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” Hebrews 4:15 (amazing!). But apart from this one incident recorded by Luke, the gospels are silent about Jesus’ boyhood.
Each year, Joseph and Mary attended the temple at Passover time. Jesus was twelve and went with them, at least on this occasion. Other devout Jews from Nazareth would have been going to the temple too, and it was common practice for the men and women to travel in separate groups. We can easily see how Joseph and Mary could each think Jesus was with the other. We can imagine their concern when they found he was with neither!
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:45, 46)
Losing a child for three hours would be distressing! After three days, Mary’s response was understandable and quite restrained. (How do you think you might have responded?) Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. (Luke 2:48)
The teachers in the temple had a different response to this inquisitive 12-year-old: Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:47). And we’re amazed that a 12-year-old could be so focussed!
I wonder, did that encounter with Jesus have a lasting impact on those teachers? Were some of them still in the temple, some twenty years later, when the adult Jesus drove the merchants and money changers out? Did some of them later become believers? (Luke tells us that after Pentecost a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7). We don’t know, of course. We do know that meeting Jesus often has a polarising effect. Some from the temple chose to believe; others hardened their hearts and pursued him to his death.
Jesus’ answer that day seemed to satisfy Mary & Joseph, even though they could not grasp its full significance. ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2: 49, 50) Even as a boy, Jesus had a passion for his heavenly Father’s kingdom and His house that shaped his later ministry. It seems Mary soon got over her distress. Then (Jesus) went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2: 51, 52)
PRAYER: Father we thank you for this glimpse into Jesus’ life as a boy and your reminder of his complete identification with those he came to save. Thank you for the grace you gave us that allowed us to respond positively in our encounter with Jesus. Soften the hearts of those we know who have chosen to respond differently. Use us in these challenging times to encourage others to re-evaluate their response, we pray, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
SONG: Fairest Lord Jesus by Truro Children – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOEuvLQ-Gy4