The boy Jesus in the temple
Luke 2 : 41 - 51
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of 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 the 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 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 much 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. (NLT)
I passed over these verses while reading Luke the other day. Reading them but not really stopping on them. However they stayed with me the following day and kept going around my mind. I was being nudged by the spirit to read them again.
Its such a strange little passage of scripture. So little is said about Jesus' childhood and teenage years and yet when it is talked about its not to tell us of a miracle or an amazing act of love or bravery but of the day Jesus got left behind.
There's actually a lot to ponder in this passage. In fact so much that I felt a little ashamed that I read through it and past it with such initial lack of enthusiasm. However its not why Jesus stayed behind, or why his parents didn't notice or couldn't find him that jumped out at me, its what he was doing for those 3 days. He was learning. But not just because he was told to and not just a little bit. He was completely absorbed,
This is the first time we know that Jesus is aware of who he is. He refers to His Father (in heaven) acknowledging the role he is to play on earth. But why now? The Bible tells us that Jesus is 12 years old. Likely the last Passover before Jesus became a Bar Mitzvah. As Jesus came to an age where Jewish tradition meant he would take responsibility for his own spiritual obligations and be answerable for his own actions it would make sense that this would be the time he would feel it appropriate to make others aware of his unique knowledge and commitment before God.
We all have this in our lives. A time to follow others more wise, parents, teachers and church leaders and also a time to stand out in our faith, to mature and take responsibility for our own walk. This rarely happened all at the same time either as we develop in different areas of our lives at different times but God calls us to be bold, to publicly declare our salvation and stand strong through our trials to glorify him. There were many trials ahead of Jesus but from the age of 12 his faith, knowledge and love for the Lord could not be questioned. As we walk in faith we should aspire to the same. To have a teachable heart, an unquestionable faith in God, and a desire to glorify him in all that we do.
When we know that Jesus was Immanuel (God with us) its hard to imagine he would need to learn or study but he willing surrendered his knowledge instead choosing to experience the same upbringing as all Jewish children of that time. To be taught and led by his parents and elders. But something made him stand out above the rest, something that left the elders astonished. Something that came from an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He knew who he was and so the importance of knowing all there was to know about his Holy Father and fully understanding the striptures before he reached adulthood meant Jesus must have been a fanatical learner through his life.
And its here in this small piece of scripture aged 12 years old that Jesus teaches us how to learn.
- He studied - There is nothing more powerful and more alive than the word of God. Growing up Jesus studied the texts. The word of God that has been given to us is the truth, the life giving, never changing, powerful truth and it should always be our first place to go. With all the resources we have available to us never forget to always start with the real, aurthentic word of God.
- He sat among the teachers - No matter whether you are 12 years old or 70 years old. No matter if you have just become a Christian or have been leading your own church for years we all need to sit among our teachers. Seek out the wise and those who love God, spend time with them. So much can be learnt about character, love, generosity and humility before we ask a single question. Proverbs 13:20 says "walk with the wise and become wise: associate with fools and get in trouble." No matter how much you learn you can be assured there will always be someone wiser. Through fellowship these people have so much to offer you and at the first opportunity these were the people Jesus seeked out.
- He listened - In Proverbs 1:5 it says "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance." and in James 1:19 it says "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." There is of course a time to talk which came later but Jesus first listened. Do you listen or just talk? Learn to listen because the people God puts around you have something to say and its worth hearing. Your parents, church sermons, podcasts, house groups, pray meetings, conferences and friendships, the list goes on. Include yourself in these and listen then pray to God that your spirit will take what you hear and turn it in to revelation and transformation.
- He asked questions - This came last and rightly so. Listen first, ask questions later. But do ask. Its important to ask. Sometimes we think we shouldn't, or its not our place. That our question isn't important or that we should already know the answer. But the wise only became that way by listening and asking questions themselves. As they increased in their knowledge they took on the responsibility to disciple others. Trust in God that he will bring the people to you that can answer your question and then ask them. Not only will it help you increase your knowledge and strengthen your faith and relationship with God but it will better equip you for the day when someone asks you a question.
We first seek the company of the wise, we listen and then we ask. This is the platform given to us by Jesus. It didn't fail him and it wont fail you.