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I’m sure most parents will read this incident and have a great deal of sympathy for Joseph and Mary. It was probably something they could laugh about years later but would have been very unfunny at the time. It seems the family travelled to Jerusalem as part of a large group of family and friends and is as often the case in these situations, the men were talking together while the women did the same (it happens today at parties). Both parents must have assumed that Jesus was with the other until at the end of the day they discovered the terrible truth. You can almost hear them say; ‘we had one job to do and now we’ve lost the Son of God!’
These verses are unique in that they provide a glimpse into the childhood of the Lord Jesus and whilst it is just a glimpse, they reveal a great deal. We learn that at the age of twelve, Jesus is aware that his life’s work would be to please the Father. We don’t know how old he was when he first knew and don’t know how deep that awareness was at twelve but he certainly knew enough. We learn too that he grew in wisdom (2:52), he spent time in the temple with the greatest experts in his day, he listened and asked questions. Luke informs his readers; “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” He had a level of understanding that amazed the teachers but he was there to learn. It’s a wonderful picture of humility.
Perhaps one of the most startling verses in this section is verse 51; “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Most teenagers that I’ve met are convinced they know more than their parents and there must be occasions when they do but Jesus was the Son of God, he really did know so much more than Mary and Joseph yet he made a choice to be obedient to them.
The humility of the Lord Jesus challenges our attitudes. He calls us to follow him, to place our complete trust in him and in what he’s done, to learn from his teaching but also to follow his example. To live with the humility of Christ would make a huge impact in our personal relationships, family life, working life and how we interact in the community.
We thank you Lord for Jesus and the example he gives. Help us Lord to follow him by being obedient to his teaching and by following his example.