This blog series is focused on studying the words and actions of Jesus throughout the four Gospel stories and finding out how they apply to us today. If you would like to start at the beginning, go here.
Jesus’ birth sets the stage for His future life and ministry – while there is glory and prophecy and worship given to Jesus (wise men, gifts, angels singing), there is also great humility and humanity about Him (being born in a stable, shepherds surrounding him, no room in the inn, born to a carpenter and his young wife, born into poverty and captivity to the Roman Empire). He was even persecuted and hunted as a baby (Matthew 2:13-18). In other words, Jesus is both God and Man. He experiences the highs and lows of life, just like you and me. There is real pain, loss, grief and struggle on His part.
All we know about Jesus’ childhood is found in Luke 2:40: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon Him.” Have you ever met a “wise” child? Jesus didn’t have to learn from His personal mistakes or sins – He was sinless. His very life is our model, even as a child. How odd it must have been for Mary and Joseph to raise this child, perfect in obedience and submission, learning more from Him than He learned from them. Also, we know Jesus had four brothers (James, Joses, Judas [aka “Jude”] and Simon). He also had some sisters. We can see this in Matthew 13:55-56 and Galatians 1:19. Finally, we know Jesus is the eldest of His siblings, and as such, learns His fathers’ trade of carpentry. Joseph obviously died when Jesus was between the ages of 12 (at the Passover) and 30 (when Jesus started His ministry) because we read of Joseph at the Passover, but he is never mentioned again throughout the gospels as being alive.
While there are things that set Jesus apart as a child, we hear nothing else of His life for 12 years. Nothing. He grows from a baby into a toddler into an adolescent into a young man. You have to wonder, even if briefly, what Jesus was like during his childhood. Was He quiet, thoughtful, did He play games, did He have a “normal” childhood? Did Jesus have an imagination as a child?
We get a glimpse of how Jesus was a child when He was 12 years old in Luke 2:41-52. Jesus enters into manhood and goes to the Feast of Passover at the age of 12 in Jerusalem. His family and many of his neighbors and friends make the trip to Jerusalem, and several days after Passover is over His family leaves, thinking Jesus is in the group. But Jesus stays behind in the Temple to talk about the Scriptures with the teachers and scribes and pharisees. Now these are men who have been studying the Old Testament for decades, and “And all who heard him were amazed at his [Jesus’] understanding and his answers.” At the age of 12, Jesus was already after their hearts, He was already revolutionary in His thought and teaching.
Mary and Joseph search for Him for three days. How much panic do you think they felt? Jesus stays in Jerusalem to discuss God, the Scriptures and theology with a bunch of synagogue rulers and teachers. Where did He sleep? How did He eat? Who took care of Him? The Jewish culture at this time was extremely giving, caring and communal. Anyone in need was taken care of, so we can assume one of these teachers took care of Jesus while He was separated from His parents. But when Mary and Joseph – tired, frantic, exhausted, thinking the worst – find Jesus, He almost sounds perplexed, doesn’t He? Jesus’ reply is, “‘Why were you looking for me?’ He asked. ‘Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?‘ But they did not understand what He was saying to them.” – Luke 2:49-50. It is almost as if He is saying, “Of course I would be in the Temple. Where else would I be? This is my daddy’s house!” Jesus’ desire to study the Scriptures and debate the true meaning of God’s Word is evident even at this early age. And He knew who His true Father was and He began even then to challenge long held beliefs.
How about me? Is it the desire of my hear to be in the presence of God? Psalm 63:2 tells us the temple is where you would see God’s power and glory. Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
Do I desire to read of Him in the Scriptures, to study His Word so that I may know Him? Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Do I desire to speak with Him and pray to Him? If you struggle with anxiety and stress, you will love prayer. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” How is your prayer life, your ministry, your witness?
Jesus loved His Father’s house, because His desire was to know and love God, to speak with God and hear from Him, to preach His word and see the lost get saved.
Let Jesus be your example this week in these things. Ask Him to help you, because He understands and He cares for you.