Luke 2:41-52

According To Custom

The Bible tells one story, but it is a one-volume library that contains two major sections, and the New Testament is the second section. The meta-narrative of scripture is the rescue of mankind through Jesus Christ by his life, death, and resurrection. This passage represents the only account of Jesus as a youth. The Bible does not offer many details outside Jesus' infancy and his ministry beginning at age thirty. Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast for the annual commemoration of God's deliverance from Egypt. Jesus grew up in a home where he was taught the things of God and the family observed the law. This trip was different because Jesus was twelve years old which is significant because a Jewish boy became a man at twelve years of age. Jesus was now considered a son of the law and was responsible for fulfilling its obligations. Making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast was a regular rhythm for Jesus' family. The Passover officially lasted for eight days, and it was one of the three festivals that all the males of Israel were expected to attend in Jerusalem, the other two being Tabernacles and Booths. 

A Moment Of Panic

When the feast ended, Mary and Joseph headed home while unbeknownst to them Jesus remained in Jerusalem. This was not due to negligence or carelessness because typically the women would leave first and then the men would catch up because they could travel a bit faster. The two groups might not meet up until the group set up camp for the evening. Mary and Joseph went a day's journey probably thinking that Jesus was with the other one. At some point, they realized that Jesus was not with either one of them and began to search among their friends and relatives for Jesus. The longer the search lasted, the more intense their emotions became until they came to the realization that Jesus was not with the group. They returned to Jerusalem in haste to see if Jesus could be found there. The pace must have been swift as they made their way back to Jerusalem. Did they travel in silence? Did they express their fears aloud? Did they discuss a plan for where to start looking for Jesus and how to cover as much ground as possible when they arrived? It took three days to find their son. 

Why Were You Looking For Me?

The weary and worried parents finally found Jesus in the temple where he was sitting with the teachers, listening and asking questions. During the Passover Feast, many of the religious leaders would meet publicly in the Temple courts to discuss the scriptures and answer questions. Jesus may have only been twelve, but these religious leaders were amazed by his understanding and his answers. Jesus showed wisdom and understanding well beyond his years. Jesus parents must have been relieved, but they also looked on in amazement. Mary wants to make sure Jesus understands the distress that he has caused as she gently rebukes her son. Jesus' actions and words must be examined so that no false conclusions are drawn. Jesus never sinned so his words and actions must not be seen as willfully rebellious or disrespectful. Jesus did not understand why his parents were looking for him in the first place. He assumed that they would know that he was in his Father's house. The parents are confused by Jesus' words, but Jesus is submissive and obedient to his parents. He did not argue or fight, he left with them, and they made the journey home, back to Nazareth. Mary treasured these moments because her son was also her creator and she would hold tight to these memories. Jesus is fully God and fully man, but he grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

Things To Consider:

  • Was it necessary for Jesus to be fully man? Why or why not?
  • What benefits do you think Jesus enjoyed because of his parents' faithfulness?
  • Why do you think Jesus was eager to join the conversation at the Temple?
  • How would you assess the way Mary and Joseph handled the situation?
  • How do you think you would respond if you were in the same position as Mary and Joseph?
  • Are you walking in obedience in your family? Why or why not?
  • How can someone grow in wisdom?
  • How does Jesus give us favor with God?