We know little about the childhood of Jesus. What we do know comes from Dr. Luke, who probably heard stories from Mary when he interviewed her late in her life. She had to be the source of the account of 12 year-old Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:41-50).
Jewish boys of his age were required to attend the three great feasts of Jewish custom and law. Twelve years of age marked a boy’s emergence as a man, a son of the law. It was likely his first appearance in Jerusalem since he was dedicated at the Temple when he was eight days old (Luke 2:21-24).
The narrative describes a young boy of 12 conversing with the rabbis and their students in the Temple courtyard, listening and asking questions. While he was absorbed in the experience, his frantic parents were searching for him. The caravan of friends and neighbors were traveling back to Nazareth but Jesus wasn’t among the crowd (Luke 2:43-45). We can imagine the growing concern of Mary and Joseph when they couldn’t find Jesus. Most parents have known desperate moments when a child is missing, if but for a while. Take it up more than a few notches – the missing child was the Son of God!
Mary and Joseph were relieved (also a bit annoyed) when they found Jesus. He was surprised at their surprise. “Where else would I be except in my Father’s house?”
For Jesus, it just seemed natural to be learning about the things of God. Perhaps as Mary was relaying this story, she reflected on the things she had pondered in her heart her entire life. Her son was indeed God’s Son. His time in the Temple at 12 years of age marked a new chapter in his self-discovery.
Good things, God things, happen when our children are given opportunities to learn about God and His love. No, it shouldn’t happen just at church. Our homes should be the primary place where our children hear and see what it means to follow God.
This weekend, our children are on an adventure. Make sure your kids are participating. Invite a neighbor. Come and support this great experience. Who knows? Our kids might teach us something.