One of the challenges of our current study in the Gospel of Luke will be the sections we will not fully address as we cover one chapter each week. We’ve already passed over an exciting episode in chapter two in which we get a glimpse of Jesus as a twelve-year-old. He and his family traveled to Jerusalem in a large caravan to observe Passover. When the feast was over, and the caravan pulled out to return home, the boy Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem! Surely Joseph assumed the boy was with Mary and the other children; Mary was sure He was with Joseph and the other men. (I wish we had that husband-wife exchange recorded for us in the Bible. “I thought you had him.” “You were with him last.” “Well, you’re going to have to tell God you lost His Son.”) They quickly headed back to Jerusalem in search of Jesus.
On the third day Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions. The rabbis were astonished at his understanding and at the answers He was giving to them. His tutoring lesson ended abruptly with a question or two from his mother: “How could you do this to us? Your father and I have been worried sick about you, searching everywhere for you.” Every mom can place herself there with Mary. Paralyzing fear and anxiety give way to unfiltered exasperation! (I remember getting lost at the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal. Suddenly separated from my family, I stood alone by a streetlight for about 15 minutes waiting for my parents to find me. Suddenly my mom emerged from a throng of people, ran to me, threw her arms around me, hugged me with tears streaming down her face, kissing me, squeezing the breath out of me. And then, like a switch went off in her brain, she lit into me with the terror of a mama bear robbed of her cub! “Don’t you ever…” is about all I can remember. Mom’s get that.)
Jesus answered his parents, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This was not a disrespectful reply, only the admission that the temple was the safest place for him to be. And further, that Jesus – at an early age – had a very clear understanding of His identity and ultimate life mission. He was the Son of God and the Son of Man. He had come to do the work of His Father in Heaven. The Bible tells us that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was talking about. And yet, after this reunion He returned with his parents to Nazareth and lived with them there as a submissive teenager.
I love that the Bible gives us this glimpse of Jesus as child. Beyond submitting Himself to His parents, He yielded Himself to everything required for the Creator to live as a human in our fallen world. He emptied Himself of all His eternally existing divine prerogatives, and took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And in human form He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even a death on a cross. To accomplish this mission, He subjected Himself to the universal human experience of being a baby, a child, a teenager, and a man. Though he increased intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially, He always knew who He was; He always knew why He came.
He came to bring good news for all people. Let’s pray many discover it as we journey through the Gospel of Luke.