The second of 2 stories in Luke Chapter 2 pertaining to the boy Jesus in the temple. The first is his dedication, with the sory of Anna and Simeon. This second story is the only story about Jesus between his infancy and the beginning of his ministry. We might wish we had more to go on, we might like to know exactly what Jesus was doing at the age of 15, 20, 24, but we don’t. All we have between infancy and starting the ministry about 30 is this glimpse of a precocious 12 year old in the temple.
God, Yahweh, had commanded three pilgrimage feasts – Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Three times a year all the Jews were to travel from their homes and villages to Jerusalem for a festival. It paints a picture of a people always on a journey, always on a pilgrimage. In the same way we are to be a people on the journey, moving toward god. We are never called to be static, settled, or satisfied. We are always to be in the journey moving toward god, seeking God.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.Mary and Joseph made the Passover journey with their village, with their entire clan. Jesus is twelve years old, on the brink of manhood. They travel in a large caravan, their whole clan, village, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors. There really is something to that old saying “it takes a village”.
And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.At first they are not concerned they don’t see Jesus. They believe and live by the ancient, Holy idea that we live in community and take care of each other. They assume he’s back in the caravan with their neighbors and relatives. But finally they realize he’s not there.
They had gone a day’s journey. So they probably had to wait until the next morning – it would not have been safe to travel back at night without the caravan. So they travelled back to Jerusalem the second day.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. At end of the third day – this is some of Luke’s prophetic foreshadowing. Mary finds the boy Jesus after he’d been missing for three days. Wouldn’t Mary would much later lose Jesus and then find him again, alive, after three days??
The text says they found him in the temple. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.What did they talk about? Maybe Jesus is asking about the Messiah, the one to come. He’s learning. He’s asking questions, impressing all those in the temple with his knowledge and understanding. Maybe they talk about Psalm 22, maybe Isaiah 53, about how Messiah will die. Maybe they are talking about Isaiah’s suffering servant. Maybe this is where Jesus begins his journey of self discovery, maybe this is where he begins to understand who he might be and how that fits into the Hebrew Scriptures.
And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph find him, and they are irritated. If you are a parent, you understand this. They’ve been worried sick, he’s been lost for three days. Then we have Jesus’ very first recorded words in the Bible – first thing he says is a question. Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? If we know anything about Jesus, when Jesus asks questions, he’s not looking for information from you, he wants you to think about yourself.
Why are you looking for me?, Jesus asks us. Why am I writing this? Why do I bother? Why are you reading? Why do you bother? Aren’t we both looking for Jesus? Why??
Maybe what we’ve discovered is that it’s not Jesus who’s lost, but we who are lost? Maybe we think that by finding Jesus, he might know the way. He might show us the way. He might be the way.
Jesus wasn’t lost, we are. We’re looking for Jesus not because he’s lost, but because we are lost. He might find the way, he might know the way, he might show the way. he might be the way. Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? Jesus says I must be in my fathers house, about the fathers business, might be another way of reading this.
Later on, this 12 year old boy would say things like “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:”Luke 6:47 ESV
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”John 5:19 ESV
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.””John 14:7 ESV
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”John 5:39-40 ESV
This is Good news I’m bringing today. There is no better news than this. God is like Jesus. That is Great news!! And – What if it’s true? What if God really is as good, as kind, as compassionate, as merciful as Jesus? What a relief, that would be really good news!!
It is true. God is like Jesus. That’s the whole point. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”John 1:14 ESV.“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 ESV. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”John 1:18 ESV
So one last time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! That’s news worth celebrating for 12 days. It’s worth celebrating forever. The Revelation that God is like Jesus. Jesus says he is about His fathers business. What is His fathers business? To invite us to the table of reconciliation. It’s at his table that we come to be reconciled with God and reconciled with one another. If we could get these two things right, right relationship with God and right relationship with each other, we could wipe out just about every problem known to man. If we could combine all of our scientific knowledge and power in reconciliation with one another instead of finding more creative and effective ways to kill one one another, we could cure cancer, and every other disease known to man. We might even see the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.””Revelation 21:4
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Luke 2:41-52 ESV