In our series looking at questions, we looked at Luke 2:41-52 where the first words of Jesus are recorded in the form of two questions. The incident is one of the few aspects of Jesus’s childhood we see in the Gospels and narrates how He is found at the temple learning from the teachers and asking them questions after His parents had set off home. It’s easy to view this incident from the parental point of view and see Jesus as an arrogant twelve-year-old causing needless worry to His parents, but we know that Jesus was both fully human and fully God and was without sin…so this interpretation cannot be the correct one. In fact, we learn much about Jesus from His questions about having to be in His Father’s house and can see how this teaches us what is truly important in life.
This passage shows us the importance of faith in the upbringing of Jesus; corporate worship (travelling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Passover) was part of His childhood. The importance of parental faith is vital; children learn from seeing and doing. At twelve, he was preparing for acceptance as an adult (the ‘Bar Mitzvah‘ took place when a boy was thirteen) and we see how God is the priority for Him even at this age. Later, He would say, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’ (John 4:34); this attitude – perhaps best exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane – was evident even now.
We see also that growth takes time; Jesus was willing to learn and to question. He displayed a hunger and thirst to know more of God and His word, which we too must evidence if we are to grow up in God (see Eph 4:15-16). We need to see learning as a lifelong process, something which will never stop this side of eternity. He was also willing to submit to His parents and to continue in obedience to them (see Luke 2:51, Heb 5:8). This need for submission to authority is a feature of Scripture (see Eph 5:21, 1 Pet 2:13) and is often the way we grow.
Jesus is our example, our model, our guide – even as a 12 year-old boy! His hunger and thirst for God, His desire to learn, His willingness to grow, His submission to authority and His wholehearted devotion to God show us what truly matters in life.