Jesus found in the temple after 3 days at the age of 12


Luke 2:39-52

[39] When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. [40] And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

[41] Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. [42] When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. [43] After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. [44] Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. [45] When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. [46] After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. [47] Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. [48] When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

Jesus found in the temple after 3 days at the age of 12

Jesus found in the temple after 3 days at the age of 12


[49] “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” [50] But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

[51] Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. [52] And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Annual Trip to Jerusalem for Passover (2:41)

“Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.” (2:41)

Theoretically, Jewish men were required to go to three feasts in Jerusalem each year — Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles — though only the Passover was strictly observed. Those at some distance, especially the poor, could not attend all the feasts. [4] Passover celebrated God delivering the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and pilgrims to the feast would stay a minimum of two days, sometimes longer.

Left Behind at 12 Years of Age (2:42-45)
Pilgrims to the feast in Jerusalem usually traveled in a large party or caravan. The caravan was made up of many of Mary and Joseph’s friends and relatives from Galilee, and they naturally supposed that Jesus was somewhere in the crowd. No doubt when they camped for the night and Jesus was nowhere to be seen, they became alarmed. By this time they were probably 20 to 25 miles north of Jerusalem. It is used in early papyrus documents of searching for criminals and fugitive slaves, When they inquired and discovered that no one had seen Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem, probably leaving early the next morning and arriving in the city about nightfall.

Sitting Among the Teachers in the Temple (2:46-47)
“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (2:46-47)

“After three days” probably means “on the third day” — one day traveling north to Galilee by caravan, one day returning south to Jerusalem, and then the third day searching until they found Jesus.

Rebuked by His Mother (2:48)
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you do us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.'” (2:48)

Jesus is so engaged when his parents finally spot him. Luke describes Mary’s and Joseph’s reaction to finding him among the teachers in the temple as being “astonished”. Once Mary sees that Jesus is safe, she asks jesus “Why did you do this to us?”

Jesus’ Reply: My Father’s House (2:49-50)
‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (2:49-50)

Children can be perverse, deceitful, and manipulative. Jesus, at the age of twelve, who is so engrossed in discussing and learning the Scriptures that he hasn’t realized the caravan had left without him. Later he found they had already left, he decided to stay put where they could find him. And, surely, they should know where to find him — in the Temple, in his Father’s house.

“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” The personal intimacy of the phrase “my Father” referring to God is unprecedented in Jewish literature, where it might be expressed as “in heaven” or “our Father.

Obeying His Parents (2:51a)
Jesus was sensing his call to obey the Father. But part of that obedience involved submitting to his parents: “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (2:51a).

Many of us have learned that it is difficult to submit to those who aren’t as intelligent as we are, or as spiritually acute. It can be hard. But it is also necessary — at least for a time — so that God can work on other things in our lives. It was necessary for Jesus at this time. The call was there, but it was not yet time to fulfill it. He must wait, learn, grow, and prepare himself for that time when he will enter into his ministry.

Growing in Wisdom, Stature, and Favor (2:52)
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (2:51-52)

Jesus is “filled with wisdom” (2:40), and yet he still grows in wisdom (2:52). This passage covers the next two decades from age twelve until he is about 30 years of age and enters upon his public ministry.

Notice the three areas of growth:

wisdom, spiritual insight,
stature, physical size, and
favor with God and man.

Unlike John the Baptist, whose rough manner wasn’t particularly attractive, Jesus gained favor with people. They liked him. They were attracted to him. “Favor” is the same word, charis, that is translated “grace” in verse 40. But Jesus also was favored by God, his Father. Unique in all time and history, Jesus is the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

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