When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” Luke 2:39 NIV
At a recent Pastor’s Bible Study, Kevin Bauman made a great observation that I want to share with all of you. As if parenting is not THE most difficult job in the world, imagine having to rear the Son of God! Selah. Hebrew for “pause and think about it!
We were looking at the early years of Jesus and, based on Biblical and early Jewish writings like the Mishnah, the Chumash, various rabbinical commentaries, and the Sayings of the Fathers, along with other historical writings of Jesus’ day, one can glean a fairly good understanding about of Jesus’ childhood, His youth and young adulthood, for there were standards of good parenting then – just like there are today for those parents who want to rear their children in a Christian home.
With this basic assumption in mind…let’s take a look at the qualities we find in Mary and Joseph as devout believers who faithfully followed the Torah, and make similar applications to parenting today. We know from the scripture above, that God wanted Jesus’ earthly parents – both Mary and Joseph – to be people who were faithful in their love for Him, and to their worship traditions – the instructions of Torah. They needed to be parents who lived out their faith in their daily lives.
Educating all children and young people, male and female was one of their highest priorities of the Hebrews…even though most ancient societies typically provided education for those who could afford it. In Jesus’ day, the schools were for all children, regardless of their family position in their society.
Continuing on from Luke 2 … 41“Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48“When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him,“Son, why have you treated us like this? “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
The story of Jesus at twelve years of age continues as he goes with His family to celebrate the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem and eventually is accidentally “left behind”. Actually, while there have been negative connotations taught regarding this incident, – “How could any good parent let this happen???” How this happened is easily explained when we understand the customs of the day.
Let us realize that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small community of about fifty families that lived simple lives as one huge extended family. Life was like that when I grew up. Neighbors gathered on a daily basis on front porches over coffee, worked together in backyard building projects, and shared Sunday dinner together. Families watched over each other and saw to each other’s needs. As a child, when I was up to something “no good”, the neighbors not only corrected me but saw to it that my parents knew about it before I got back home!
Jesus’ neighbor families would have traveled together to and from Jerusalem as one large group in which it was common for children to move from family to family as they played together. It was easy for Mary and Joseph to assume that Jesus was with His friends, and knowing all of the families well, they could trust He was in good hands. (Question: How well do we know the families of our children’s friends these days?)
“His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Every concerned parent has no trouble understanding Mary’s frustration as she scolds Jesus for they way He has treated them. She and Joseph have spent three days looking for Him!…never dreaming that He would be in the Temple courtyards of all places talking with the rabbis and priests!
Isn’t it wonderful that the Word of God portrays people in their true humanity? If Mary had responded to Jesus “as the perfect ’Leave-It-to-Beaver’ mother”, it would be hard for any of us to ever measure up to her perfection as a parent in this very real world! We see her “as she is” and we find comfort that even the woman that God chose to be the mother of His Son can become upset and frustrated as she responds to the fears of looking for her lost child.
Kevin reasoned that Mary must have been under tremendous pressure trying rear the Son of God! What did she say to God as she and Joseph roamed the streets and country sides of Jerusalem looking for the Son he had given them? What would you and I have said? How do you tell God, ‘We’ve lost Your Son’”?
49“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
The rather flippant answer of Jesus to Mary’s scolding doesn’t make much sense to us either – at first glance. He seems rude to Mary. A smart-mouth. But when we take time to reflect and think this through, we realize that at the incredibly young age of twelve, Jesus is already profoundly aware of His awesome mission on earth. To what extent, He understands His mission and the future we cannot be sure. That some day, just a few years down the road, He will minister to desperate people, heal the blind, the deaf, and the lame. Heal the broken hearted. Be in that same Temple turning over the tables of the money changers. Infuriating the Priests. Standing in trial before Pilate. Be brutalized by Roman guards. Despised by so many. Rejected by His best friends. Sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Be nailed to a cross. Draw His last breath. Descend into the pits of hell. And…
BE RAISED FROM THE DEAD AS HE SAVES HIS PEOPLE!
One more thing…in this passage from Luke 2, let’s also remember that Jesus is about to celebrate His Bar Mitzvah…and as He does this at the young age of thirteen, he will be declared an adult in His congregation. Thirteen – the age of spiritual accountability in the Jewish faith. In Jesus’ day, long before then, and even today in orthodox Jewish communities, there are Bar Mitzvahs for boy and Bat Mitzvahs for girls. This is why Jewish parents worked and work so hard to teach their young children their faith and heritage in word and deed. God wanted each child to grow up and take his/her place in the congregation as spiritually mature adults – ready to assume their roles and use their God-given gifts for the good of the congregation and their communities! Selah!
51“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Regardless of how much Jesus did or did not understand about the depth of His mission at that point of His young life, it wouldn’t have made a difference…for no matter what lay ahead, He came as the long-promised Messiah, and will He return again soon to receive His Bride and complete His final mission this side of Glory and His Millennial Reign! At this point, this is merely the beginning of an eternity we cannot begin to imagine as those who believe live throughout eternity in the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus…Yeshua…our Savior. Hallelujah! Selah!
From My Heart to Yours…Kay