What a rare, precious gift of insight into the development of not just a godly man, but the God Man! At 12 years old, many a boy of talent verges on the preciousness, plain spoken, if not presumptuous and arrogant. Do we see these traits in Jesus, with his quick-witted response to the question posed him by his exasperated parents? Or do we see trace of the uniqueness of Christ in his prioritization of the “father’s business”? Or do we see a model for all of us, even 12 year olds, to be active in putting first God and the Father God?
Note first that his parents go up to the temple “according to custom” (2:42). While some change agents feel they must be changing everything all the time, Jesus’ parents apparently understood the importance of, where the Bible does not command otherwise, following along the honored traditions of their people. Now, the boy Jesus stayed behind at the temple. Watch this: It took his parents a day before they even noticed he was gone. This is not because of their lack of care for him—once they knew he was missing, you can read of their burdened three-day long search everywhere. It was because of the safety and security that they felt among their “group,” and their trust of Jesus.
And where do they eventually find Jesus? Sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions (2:46). We are not in that verse told that he was asked questions; but in the next verse we are told that they were amazed at his understanding and his answers. Socrates knew a thing or two when he modeled and proposed that a wise man advances by asking judicious questions. There is something about wisdom that is furthered by not pontificating and lecturing all the time but first inquiring. The careful question, like nutcracker, opens up the wisdom within. So Jesus, by asking questions, it seems, the right questions, is showing his understanding and actually also giving answers.
His parents, of course, are astonished when they see him (2:48). When Jesus replies that they surely should have known (again, though, his reply is in the form of a question) that he would be in his Father’s house, they do not understand his answer (2:50).
Luke is careful to indicate that this story has nothing to do with pre-teen rebellion. Jesus is appropriately “submissive” to them (2:50). The point is that Jesus is showing by example that the center of all our piety, all our worship, is God himself. We can learn from others, we can learn from good and godly parents (as Jesus’ parents surely were). But our center of being, of identity, of meaning and of purpose can only be our heavenly Father.
This, and other instances not recorded, show that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with people (2:52). He, as a man, was growing up, and doing so excellently and in a way that honored God and was remarked upon by people too. He seemed to be a man of promise. And yet he was so much more (as Mary rightly treasured all things in her heart, 2:51): he was the God man who had been promised.
Would we today also spend time in “our Father’s house,” reflecting on who he is, reading his Word, and centering our lives once more upon him, his will for us, and his calling on our lives to follow Him?
To receive God Centered Bible devotionals directly in your inbox, sign up here.