"Holy, holy" was much of the message of Jesus. Even in His own home as a child, they dealt with a holy Child. The first years of Jesus, the youth of Jesus remained quite a mystery. The silence of the Scriptures on this subject is troublesome to us in the information age. We're used to getting on the internet and finding out anything about anything. We like to know everything about everything. But we can't find out much about the early years of Jesus. It is clear that the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus. They don't tell all. Their purpose is to share whatever has to do with the plan of salvation. They must be read with that in mind. Even the small portion of scripture that tells a little about the first years of Jesus must be read in thoughts of the plan of salvation. The one Scripture that I am referring to is Luke chapter two.
Here we have a very long chapter. It's only about 52 verses long, but it covers the time of Jesus' birth right up to the time He was baptized, a 30-year span in one chapter. That's what we know from Scripture about the life of Jesus. This chapter contains the story of His birth, the story of the shepherds, but it also contains three other stories. One, at eight days when He was circumcised at the temple, one at age forty days, when He was dedicated at the temple, And the other at age twelve when He is lost at the temple. It's interesting that what we know about Jesus revolves around the temple.
I mentioned last Sabbath that two other people were ready for the Messiah's coming besides the shepherds and the Magi. Look at Luke 2:25-26. Mary and Joseph had come to the time when it was time to dedicate Jesus. They came and they did the sacrifices and all that they were supposed to do, and we come to verse 25, Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon hem. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. You know what? I'd loved to have the Holy Spirit reveal that to me: that we would not die before we saw the Lord's Christ. I believe that it would be very soon. Just last year I was hoping not to be standing right here this year, but standing in heaven.
Well, what happened to Simeon? Verse 27. Moved by the Spirit, I like that phrase. "Move by the Spirit." When was the last time you were moved by the Spirit to do something? Well, if you're filled by the Spirit it might happen quite often. Moved by the Spirit he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God. When we are moved by the Spirit, the Spirit leads us to where Jesus is, doesn't He. That's what happened to Simeon. He praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel."
Do you hear what he said? Reminiscent of what the angels told the shepherds, "I bring you tidings of great joy for all people." And here in the temple itself Simeon is saying "this is for all people including gentiles."
verse 33. The Child's father and mother marveled at what was said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother: "This Child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." God was giving Mary a warning that there was to be a lot of tears for this Child.
Verse 36. There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after their marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
What an encouragement and relief this event must have been for Mary and Joseph. Other people shared their secret. You know, secrets are hard to bear. It's a little nicer when somebody else knows something that you're going through. These events obviously took place before the visit of the Magi because the wrath of Herod had not yet been stirred. He did not know anything about what had just taken place right under his nose. The child just dedicated and named Jesus would bring down the economy of the nation which was built around the sacrificial system. The true Lamb of God had been in His own Temple.
Look at verses 39 and 40. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Well, He would need that grace because He was growing up in Nazareth. Prophecy had said that He would be called a Nazarene. But more powerful than prophecy on holding people's attention was reputation. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Nazareth was not the type of place one would choose to raise the Messiah. But to Nazareth they were directed.
Mary is often credited with the birth of Jesus. But what about His childhood. Can you imagine what that must have been like for a teenage girl in a rough neighborhood to raise a Child that was to be the Messiah? Also raising Joseph's other children. Tradition tells us that She was probably closer in age to his children than she was to Joseph. No running water nor electricity either. It was a full-time job.
And what about raising a perfect child? Doesn't it sound easy? Not as easy as it may sound. No one had ever raised a child like this before. Can you imagine being around a child that never did anything bad? It sounds good, doesn't it? If you've noticed that when you're around somebody that's better than you are, you're not comfortable? I imagine that's what happened in Jesus' home. Even Mary and Joseph were uncomfortable around a perfect Child, not to mention His siblings. Grandmother's advice could only go so far. There were no child psychology books in the local library, much less books on raising a Messiah! Mary had to rely on her common sense, a heart full of love, and the soft promptings of the Holy Spirit. These tools are still available to parents today!
We don't know from Scripture much about what He was like, but we just read that He grew and became strong and was filled with wisdom and grace. This is a reflection of His later years which we know about. We can assume that Jesus was as a child as He was as a man. He would have been helpful and concerned with the miseries that sin had caused. He would have been kind and loving to no matter who crossed His path. His characteristics would have been such as would bring ridicule from the neighboring kids and even his own siblings. Easy to pick on, never angered. I don't imagine that when He was on the cross He said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." I don't think that was the first time He ever said that. He probably grew up saying that. That's why He was able to say it then. That's why He was able to do things that He did in His later life, because He'd been raised that way.
If you would like more insight into the early life of Jesus, I suggest that you read about it in The Desire of Ages by EG White. In fact, I think that since Pastor Gettys and I involved in this series of sermons on the life of Jesus that now would be a great time to read The Desire of Ages again (or maybe for the first time for some).
The next Temple story that we find begins with verse 41. Every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
This verse reveals something about the parents of Jesus. I say "parents" because that's the way Jesus treated them and regarded them. It was required by law that all males attend the three major feasts every year. They were Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The fact that Mary also attended Passover every year could indicate a special interest in religious matters. Women were often left out of such things. Someone had to stay home and care for things. But remember, Mary was the one teaching her Son. She had to learn things in order for her to be able to teach them. A situation that all home-schooling parents know all to well! Can you imagine that she had to teach her Son the words that He had once spoken to Moses, that He had once spoken and all was created! I wonder, did she realize that the Passover Feast pointed to her Son? Did she realize that the blood on the doorposts of Egypt depicted the blood of her Son?
Verse 42. When He was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast according to the custom.
Twelve was considered the age in which a boy became a man who was responsible for his own actions. Twelve was when a Jewish boy would become a "Son of the Law." This would take place at the end of his twelfth year. In ancient reckoning, a person who just turned 11 would be called 12 because he had just begun his twelfth year.
It is believed that this was Jesus' first trip to Jerusalem since he was dedicated. As he observed the services of the Temple, His knowledge as to who He was must have been awakened. Everything He had learned about the coming of the Messiah at His mother's knee must have started to make sense. We don't know how much she revealed or when, but it all began to fall into place with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 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.
Jesus was so fascinated by the Temple that his parents probably left Him there during the festival while they shopped or visited with old friends. The book The Desire of Ages brings out that Mary hoped Jesus would gain more respect for the priests, than He had previously had, by being where the action was. Well, He was where the action was and His parents left Him behind.
Have you ever been left behind? It happened to me when I was little, maybe five or four. I was Christmas shopping with my mom and dad and my brother. We were at a store called "Jubilee City." Some of you who have lived in the Chattanooga area for a while may remember that store. It was where the old Target store was on Lee Highway. I was fascinated by the toy robots and the Johnny Lightning Trucks, thinking about what I wanted for Christmas. And I looked around and my parents were gone. They had wandered off and I hadn't wandered with them. I remember a moment of "What now!" Then a gentle hand touched me on the shoulder and I turned around and looked up into the face of Santa Claus. He had found me! He was the store Santa. He asked, "Are you lost?" I nodded my head, and he sat me on his knee. I guess they gave a P.A. announcement because that's where my parents found me. And I had plenty of time to tell him everything. After that I was careful to never be left behind. I stayed close to my mother wile shopping. In fact, I enjoyed making her think I had disappeared by staying right behind her and following her as she looked for me. Now I do that to my wife!
Verse 44. Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. It was customary, while traveling, for the women to walk in a group and for the men to walk in a group. That even happens today. It was probably assumed by Joseph that Jesus was with Mary and by Mary that He was with Joseph. Or that He was with other relatives. It was when they stopped to set up camp that it was discovered that He was not with them.
Verse 45. When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him.
Just think about what was going through their minds. Oh sure, Joseph probably grumbled, "I was supposed to be back there. I had a cabinet job at the neighbor's house. Now I'm going to be late on that. Now we've got to go back to Jerusalem." But can you imagine the fear that was in their hearts? "Wait a minute. We have been entrusted with the Son of God. And we lost Him." How would that make you feel? "He was entrusted to us and we have failed." I'm sure thought were going through their minds. "Remember, there ar people who want Him dead. Remember Herod? He's got relatives. What's happened?"
Verse 45,46. When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him Three days of grieving, looking for Him in desperation amongst three million people. That's what the historian, Josephus, estimates came to Passovers. Looking for Jesus, Mary grieving for three days, a kind of premonition of what would happen later in Jerusalem with Mary at the cross when she would again grieve for three days. After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
This was a typical scene in the Temple courts, especially during the feast periods. The great teachers would gather together in Jerusalem and engage people and talk about traditions or the Scriptures. And then they would ask questions of the people and the people would ask questions of them and they would engaged in discussion. We might even know some of the names of some of these teachers Jesus spoke with. During this time lived Gamaliel, Saul's teacher, Simeon, son and successor of Hillel, Nicodemus, and possibly Joseph of Arimathaea. All of these could have been there at Passover and may have actually spoken with Jesus at that time. We don't know, but they could have been there.
Verse 47. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.
Obviously, the teachers began to ask questions of Jesus. Probably trying to probe the depth of His knowledge. "How much does this guy know? Maybe He should become one of their students. We could mold Him. We could make Him into a great teacher if He would just follow us." But, Jesus must also have used great tact in speaking with these men because being twelve years old and teaching the teachers, and they were actually listening. He must have been so disarming, so tactful, so peaceful, they did not feel threatened by Him or else they would not have let Him stay.
Verse 48. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished. Wouldn't you be astonished to find your child teaching the greatest teachers? And them treating Him with such deference? Well, they were astonished. His mother said to Him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? I can almost picture her taking Him by the ear. "Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You."
You know, it sometimes happens with our kids. Anxiety can turn to anger when suddenly we're relieved. "You do that again and I'll kill you." You know, that type of an attitude, and we begin to blame them when we know that we are the ones at fault. Mary and Joseph knew that they were the ones who had lost Jesus. So they took it out on Him.
Verse 49. "Why were you searching for Me?" He asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in My Father's house?"
"Why were you searching for me? You knew that I had been staying here. This is where I have been since we came here. Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's House?" (Or about my Father's business). This was a turning point in Jesus' life. He shows that he recognizes that Joseph is not his true father. In fact, I believe this is the last we ever hear about Joseph. Being older, He may have died before Jesus began His ministry in public, we don't know. This also shows that Jesus recognizes at least part of His mission. Which is more than we can say for His parents at that moment because we read in verse 50 and 51 But they did not understand what He was saying to them.
Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
We find Mary holding dear the things that she is learning about her special Son and we find Jesus obediently working as a carpenter for 18 more years. Young people, don't be too anxious to do what it is that you want to do. Jesus was patient for His time. Don't try to do things too fast. Wait for God's time and things turn out so much better.
Verse 52. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Just like a plant, ever changing yet ever perfect. A plant grows from a perfect seed to a perfect shoot to a perfect plant and bears perfect fruit in it's time. Jesus grew in wisdom, He grew in strength, He grew to know His Heavenly Father more, and He became more and more appreciated by those around Him.
To me, that sounds like a good New Year's resolution! Let's make this a year to grow in wisdom. Let's follow the leading of the Spirit into the Word. Let's make this a year to grow in strength. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. Let's make this a year to grow in favor with God. Let's keep the communication lines open with Him, listening more than speaking. Let's make this a year to grow in favor with our neighbors by meeting their needs, by encouraging them, and by showing them Who makes us tick. Let's be found being in our Father's house, being about our Father's business! When Jesus comes, let us be found giving our best to Him!
Hymn of Praise: #121, Go, Tell It On the Mountains Scripture: Luke 2:49-52 Hymn of Response: #572, Give of Your Best to the Master
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last updated 1/5/2001 by Bob Beckett.