Early this week I was able
to attend a Grandparents Day lunch with Eli at his elementary school
in Millstadt. It was very nice weather for a change, so I rode my
motorcycle. We had a good time, sharing spaghetti lunch prepared
only as a school cafeteria can do it. A few minutes of playground
frolicking ensued before I said goodbye and watched Eli and his
buddies go back to class.
On the way home I thought, I’m
right here in Millstadt—I’ll drop by to see Krista, Luke and Chloe.
Krista and the kids met me at the front door and we visited a
little. Knowing it would be a brief visit I had left my helmet on,
visor up. Krista explained how Luke was suffering from the misery of
a spreading eczema rash, so we prayed for him, and I was off. Just
then, Krista opened the door again laughing. She said, Guess what
Luke said. When you went out the door, he looked at me and said “Who
Art Linkletter was right – “Kids say the darndest
things.” One grandmother was watching her 5-year-old granddaughter.
She was interested in how the girl was doing in recognizing colors.
So she pointed to different things in the room, asking, And what
color is that, and the girl answered correctly. Well, that was fun,
so she continued pointing and asking What color is that? At last the
five-year-old headed for the door, saying sagely, "Grandma, I think
you should try to figure out some of these yourself!"
there was the mom who was a physician. She left her stethoscope on
the car seat and her four-year-old picked it up and was playing with
it. The mother beamed with pride as she thought of her daughter
growing up to be a doctor, just like her mother. Just then the child
spoke into the business end of the stethoscope: "Welcome to
McDonald's. May I take your order?"
Have you ever wondered about
the childhood of Jesus, and the things He might have said and done?
Other than this short passage in the second chapter of the gospel of
Luke, we have no record of this part of the earlier days of Jesus’
earthly life. The Holy Spirit must have thought it best that there
would be no surviving baby book, mother’s diary or school yearbooks
to fill in the details of the boyhood of the Son of Man. For a true
and reliable record, we have only these few verses in the gospel of
Luke—a single flower plucked from the garden of the childhood of
Jesus. Read with me beginning at
verse 40, where Luke sum-arizes . .
. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom,
and the grace of God was upon him.
This verse pairs up with
verse 52 as 2 slices of bread sandwiching the delicious story of
Jesus being left at the Temple. There Luke records these words:
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Why
this particular event was singled out by God as the only story from
Jesus’ boyhood remains a mystery. One of the most favorite things
for adults to do is to sit around and reminisce the funny, the
foolish, the harrowing, the exasperating things their children did
You know, Luke, the thorough historian that he
was, personally interviewed Mary, the mother of Jesus, before
writing this gospel. Why hadn’t she dragged out the family album,
shown a couple of family movies, you know, retrospected more about
the other interesting things Jesus did. Or, maybe she did, and Luke
did not have the Spirit’s editorial approval to include it here.
Maybe it didn’t seem important to them. It could be that Mary was so
strongly affected (wouldn’t any of us parents be?) by the events she
lived through that she had no desire to reminisce, or quite possibly
the trauma of His death and the glory of his resurrection simply
overshadowed everything else.
Let’s enter into this singular
account left to us and see what God may give us to learn and
consider. Pray with me: Lord, we come to Your Word, hungry to know
You more and better. Teach us what you would have us to know.
Every year his parents went to Jerusalem
for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they
went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
It was a
matter of Jewish custom and law that every adult male Jew who lived
within 15 miles of Jerusalem must attend the Passover. In fact,
every Jew, anyplace in the world, should attend that feast in
Jerusalem at least once in their lifetime. Turning 12, Jesus would
now be considered a man, a “son of the Law”, and now responsible to
keep the Law. And for the first time, the boy Jesus accompanied his
parents to Jerusalem.
I can imagine that as they walked the
steep hill up to the city of Jerusalem, something began to stir in
this adolescent. Entering the city, don’t you suppose the Spirit of
God moved within him? Twenty years from this moment he will enter
again, riding a donkey in keeping with Zechariah’s prophecy. He
would be welcomed by hundreds waving branches and worshiping the
Lord, declaring Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!
And stepping into the courtyard of the Great Temple, don’t you
imagine, must have been an awesome experience for Jesus!
there a niggling, a faint sense that here was a point of destiny for
him? That one day he would drive wicked money-changers out of this
courtyard. That here he would declare that he was the “living
water”; here he would teach the true nature of sacrificial giving;
here he would defiantly prophesy that soon not one stone of this
Temple would be standing, but all would be thrown down; here he
would foretell his second coming, he would gather his elect from the
four winds, and judge the world.
Heaven and earth will pass
away, but my words will never pass away, he will tell the people
from this very pulpit. I wonder if he had any inkling. Was there
perhaps a dawning realization? I think something stirred in Jesus;
the Holy Spirit certainly was involved in putting him in the
situation he was about to enter.
The Lingering ()
After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the
boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.
Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then
they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
Passover in Jerusalem was a seven-day affair, but it’s in the
first three days that all the good stuff happens. Once the common
folks experienced the worship and the Paschal meal, it was pretty
much over for them. A little like leaving during the seventh inning
stretch when the Cardinals are winning by five runs—you know? We’ve
seen the good stuff, let’s beat the traffic and get home. Off the
family went, headed back to Nazareth, but Jesus lingered. Transfixed
by the pageantry and religious meaning in his first Jerusalem
Passover, the drama of seeing his first temple sacrifices, immersed
in a crowd of over 200,000 worshiping Jews!
Then there was
the Bible study. The time when the men of the faith would stay on
for the next few days, studying, dialoguing, debating the
scriptures. When Jesus saw the elders talking about the Word of
Father God, something must have come over him. He was attracted to
this group like a moth to a flame. Something deep within him told
him this is where he belonged. In a sense he became unhinged,
partially disengaged from his earthly family. A new, intriguing
sense of his calling began to dawn on him. Later he would say that
dialoguing Word was the Father’s work for him. So he sat and
listened, learned and entered into the discussions.
Meanwhile, back at the caravan, some parents are suddenly worried.
We 21st century folks like to travel in our little nuclear
families—you know, 3 or 4 in a single car, maybe 5. The Jews of that
day traveled with their extended families and friends, in large
groups of maybe a hundred people. It is easy to see how one child
might have been overlooked for a couple days—Oh, he’s probably with
his cousins up front; I’m sure he’s fine; after all, where else
could he be? Don’t worry, we’ll find him.
But they didn’t. Soon
Mary and Joseph realized Jesus wasn’t with the other parent or
anywhere in the group. I can almost imagine what Adam Childers and
his wife felt like when 3-year old Joshua walked out of the house
determined to go to grandma’s house. 2 harrowing days later they
found him in the Mark Twain Forest, a half mile from home,
dehydrated, bereft of one shoe and one pull-up, but mostly fine.
What did the Childers parents go through during those 50-plus hours?
Guilty because they hadn’t been more careful? Frightened for his
safety? Worried someone had taken Joshua?
Following a search among the family and friends in
the caravan, Mary, with I’m sure concerns not unlike the Childers’,
outpaced Joseph hurrying back to Jerusalem.
Verses 45-46 tell us how
it turned out, and where their 12-year-old had been.
they did not find him they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among
the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Three days! That’s a long time of uncertainty for Joseph and Mary.
The wording is a little awkward, so we don’t know if it was three
days of travel and they found him right away or just one day of
travel to Jerusalem and two days of searching among the thousands of
people in the city. What must Mary have been going through during
those long hours? It’s one thing to lose a child, but the child? The
child of promise? Forgive me, but I can imagine her thinking, What
is God going to say about this?
They turn the corner near the
courtyard of the Temple and what do they see? Their son hobnobbing
with the teachers of the law. Relief washes over them and they rush
the scene to take their boy in their arms. They notice, though, how
comfortable Jesus looks among the elders and teachers. They’re
actually letting him interact with them!
The Wisdom (2:47-48a)
For days following the Passover meal, the teachers of the Law,
the elders and other interested scholastic types sit around one area
of the Temple courtyards discussing the scriptures and the
applications of the Law of Moses. Some people do Tai Chi on the
beach, others play chess at the park. These men love to interact
with one another about theology. And this is their special place and
time. They let others sit in and listen and occasionally someone
less intimidated that most will ask a question, just to hear the
wizened scholars discuss the issue.
Today, though, they have
a young-n among them. He’s jumping in regularly with questions—and
they’re good ones! This precocious boy even offers answers in the
discussion, and they make sense! They seem astonished at the level
of wisdom Jesus demonstrates. Which further intrigues his parents.
By the way, forget the over-done images of Jesus wowing the big dogs
with extreme insights, turning the tables and becoming the teacher.
That didn’t happen and I don’t know who dreamed such a thing up.
Jesus was simply asking questions and answers that were way above
the spiritual IQ of a 12-year-old, that’s all. But the teachers took
The Mother and Son Dialogue (2:48-50)
mother said to him, “Son why have your treated us like this? Your
father and I have been anxiously searching for you!
mom and dad have arrived. Could it be the boy had become so
engrossed he forgot the time? But it was more than three days? Did
he talk through the night? Where did he sleep? What did he eat? Why
didn’t he call? (Oh, no cell phones, right) How does Mary handle
the whole thing? Just like a mother! What would you say, moms? I
know, Where have you been, young man? We have been worried sick!
Pretty close to Mary’s response—she’s a mom!
Mom’s live, eat,
sleep and breathe the health and safety of their children! That’s
what they do! They turn into mama bears when their cubs are
threatened. They love their children with godly care and nurture.
Worry comes naturally when that’s your job description.
to mention, there was never a single day that Mary did not remember
this one, this first-born son, is God’s child. She was inseminated
by a miracle of the Holy Spirit of Yahweh! This was no ordinary boy!
I’ve watched closely the parents of special needs kids and how they
dote on those kids. How would you parent the son of God, moms? Mary
lived out the anxiety and awesome responsibility of this role every
day of her life.
The Critical Reply (2:48-50)
never had her son ever done something so foolish, so irresponsible,
so insensitive to her and his step father! Her question: Why have
you treated us like this? And it’s a good, fair question. But he
returns his mother’s serves as deftly as he had the questions of the
elders. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know
I had to be in my Father’s house?”
I don’t think we should
understand this as a son giving lip to his mother, or as any kind of
a disrespectful answer. Jesus was now finding his element, his
calling. His heart has been captured by God, and he will, from now
on, be a teacher. He knew it! We can imagine he had at least some
understanding of his deeper calling as the Messiah of Israel, and
Savior of the world, but for now, the boy-to-man Jesus was now so
sure of his direction in life that he was ready to start, and he
must shoot straight with his mother.
When Jesus said,
Father’s house, Mary and Joseph heard something they probably
expected to hear ever Bethlehem. They had always known Jesus was
their son for a short time; now they knew, though they did not have
the whole picture, their son was going to be fully devoted to his
He had to make it clear to them that they must
begin to release him into this calling. It would be another 18 years
before Jesus would be baptized by his cousin John and officially
begin his ordained ministry, but Jesus has staked his claim, made
his stand and confirmed his calling. Moms (and dads), this is
perfectly natural and right. Begin expecting now for your children
(each one of them) to do or say things that will let you know
they’re moving on to independent adulthood. There will be a ring of
authority in their voice, and the sting of hurt when they say it.
The Return (2:51-52)
Then he went down to Nazareth with
them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these
things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in
favor with God and men.
Jesus returns to his home, temporary
though it will be, and he will submit to his parents and serve as a
good son, but make no mistake about it, he is changed. He is called.
I love what
verses 50 and 51 say about Mary: she didn’t understand,
and she treasured all these things in her heart. Moms, I know you
can understand that. How long you have done for your kids more than
anyone, including your husband, will ever know; and how often these
kids have made you wonder, are these children really mine, or were
they switched at birth? Are they even human?
Growing up is
hard. We adults have forgotten, fortunately. But while these
precious souls whom God has entrusted to your care bump and bruise
themselves on the treacherous road to maturity, I encourage you:
remember Mary. You will often not understand, just treasure all
these things in your heart. That’s your calling.
Verse 52 finishes
the sandwich. Would you notice something about that oft-quoted
verse? Jesus did what was perfectly normal—he grew up! So will your
children. Start preparing yourself. Your child will not be the
Messiah, but he or she will be going toward their calling in God.
Pray and prepare now to let them go when that time comes.
Moms May Expect
You will be hurt
Your kids must
Your God is with you
You will always be
Tracy sat at the piano. She talked about the difficult
week she'd just been through. Chaotic, she said—a mess of petty
crises on top of a rash of minor accidents, all mixed up in a soup
can of crazy busyness. It had left her weary and cranky. She got up
that Sunday to lead worship and felt spent, with nothing more to
But Tracy's 8-year-old daughter, Brenna, had helped her
gain perspective earlier that morning. When Tracy walked into the
living room, she saw the window was covered with scrawl. Using a
crayon, Brenna had scribbled something across the picture window,
top to bottom and side to side.
At first, it seemed like one more
mess for Tracy to clean up. Then she saw what Brenna had written:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindnece, goodnece, faithfulnece,
gentlnece and selfcantrol Tracy stopped, drank it in. Her heart
flooded with light. It was exactly what she needed to be reminded
about: the gift of the fruit of the Spirit that arises, not by our
circumstances, but by Christ within us.
And then Tracy noticed
one more thing Brenna had written at the edge of the window: Love
one another. Only Brenna, in her creative spelling, had written:
Love won another.
It's what Jesus has been trying to tell us all
along. You were won that way. Now go and do likewise.