Luke 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:41-52

Did your parents ever tell a story about you that you wish they would just forget?

Did you ever get “lost” in the toy section and later got in trouble with your Mom?

Did you ever find yourself sitting at a table with older people, people who actually listened to what you had to say?

Today’s text is one of those stories that brings Jesus closer to me. I realize that it is included to check off several “Jesus is special” boxes…but it is the humanity of it that I love.

Theologically, Christians have always trusted the Bible verses that assure us that Jesus was “without sin.” I understand that. The mystery of the Trinity. But my sense is that, if we could hear the sound of Mary’s voice when she says, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety,” we might come away with a sense that, though he was sinless, at least Mary thought him capable of being naughty.

Once again, I keep going back to Luther’s line, “If Jesus is not God, he can’t help me. If Jesus is not human, he can’t know me.”

We should also note that the story suggests that Jesus learned from his mistake. He was obedient to his parents. That’s important. We have a commandment about that one. And it says that Jesus “increased in wisdom” – another down to earth way of saying that Jesus grew up just like the rest of us.

And finally, notice that this happened when Jesus was 12 years old. Right at the edge of the traditional age for a young man’s Bar Mitzvah. Christians today call that some form of “confirmation.” It is a strange, and I believe increasingly unhelpful, word. But we continue to use it even though our hymnal calls its concluding ceremony “Affirmation of Baptism.” Its meaning and purpose remains widely misunderstood. And its efficacy is increasingly suspect. But all of that is too much to address here.

I just want to point out that Jesus wouldn’t have gotten to Jerusalem without his parents.

(My answers to the opening three questions: yes, yes, yes or at least it seemed like they did which was good enough for me.)

Let us pray: Dear Lord, it is good news to read that you grew up, that you learned things along the way, that you increased in wisdom. May we all do the same. And may we all do the best we can as communities of faith to raise up young people who know and follow you in their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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