Jesus As a Child

Luke 2:41-52

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

His Parents’ Faithfulness

His parents went to Jerusalem every year.  Only male Jews who lived within twenty miles of Jerusalem were required by law to attend the temple three times a year – Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 23:14-17).  Women did not have to attend, it was optional.   Nazareth was more than twenty miles away so neither Joseph nor Mary were required by law to attend.  Yet it was their custom to attend every year at Passover.   They went to the Temple because they wanted to be in God’s house. 

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” 

“Train up” does not mean just bring a child to church once a week or teach them a memory verse.  It does not mean to just tell them they should be saved and serve God.  It is much more than that.  It carries the idea of a parent investing in a child whatever wisdom, love, time and discipline is needed for that child to become fully committed to God.  It assumes that the parent has the emotional and spiritual maturity to do so.  “In the way he should go” means to take into account the child’s unique personality, gifts and desires.  It also means to train the child to avoid whatever natural tendencies he/she might have that would prevent total commitment to God (a weak will, a lack of discipline, a susceptibility to depression).  This promise means that if a parent takes the time, uses wisdom and love to instruct the child in the way of commitment to God, both by words and by their own example, taking into account the child’s own personality, they can be assured the child will stay committed to God as an adult. 

If you want your child to go to church, how often do they see you go to God’s house?  What is your attitude when you go?  “I have to go,” or “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go unto the house of the Lord.’”

If you want your child to love God’s Word, how often do they see you reading God’s Word?  What is your attitude when you read?  “I have to read,” or “I love learning more about God’s Word.”

If you want your child to worship God, how often do they see you worship God – both at home and at church?  Do they ever see you just stop in the middle of work and sing a song of praise or take time to pray?  Do they ever see you in church entering into worship with all your heart?  What is your attitude about worship?  “Hurry up and get on with it,” or “What a joy to worship our Savior.”

If you want your child to give to God’s work, how often do they see you giving?  What is your attitude about giving?  “I have to tithe,” or “It is a blessing to give to the cause of Christ.”

Have you taken the time to teach your child how to study the Bible, how to look up words they don’t understand, how to do research?  Have you taken the time to teach your child how to pray? 

Jesus Was A Normal Child

His parents were not alarmed when Jesus was not with them as they began their journey.  Obviously, they were used to Jesus playing and socializing with the other children from Nazareth. 

Jesus’ Knowledge Was Not Normal

He was found in the midst of the teachers.  News of the young boy who had such great understanding must have quickly spread among the teachers and leaders. 

He was listening to them.  Word akouonta denotes listening closely, attentively, deep in thought. 

He was asking them questions.  Even Jesus was teachable, thirsty for more knowledge.

He answered their questions. 

Example for us:  Every opportunity to learn the truth should be taken.  We should desire more knowledge and understanding of the truth.

2 Peter 1:5 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add (generously provide what is needed, to cover the costs) to your faith virtue (moral excellency and goodness), to virtue knowledge.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the might man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and know Me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these I delight (take pleasure in, cherish, be inclined toward) says the Lord.

Jesus’ Parents Misunderstood His Mission

Many may misunderstand us, including our own family.  Still, we must be obedient to the call of God on our lives. 

Matthew 10:36 – and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

Perhaps in raising Jesus for the past twelve years, Mary and Joseph had begun to forget who Jesus was.  Do we get too familiar with Him?  Do we forget who Jesus is?

Deuteronomy 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.

Jesus Clearly Understood His Mission

Jesus clearly understood at this time that He was the Son of God.  Even though Joseph was standing there, Jesus spoke of God as His Father.  At what age Jesus knew He was the Messiah, we do not know, but clearly by age 12 He was conscious of a unique relationship with God.  Again, we see that children can be used of God for Jesus was a man just like us. 

Jesus Was Still Obedient to His Earthly Parents

The word “subject” means “to stand under, submission, subordination.”  Even though He understood who He was, He submitted to His parents.  He was stronger in spirit and wiser and His real father was God Himself, yet he was obedient, setting us an example.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey (answer and respond, submit without reservation, listen attentively) your parents in the Lord, for this is right (conforming to God’s laws).

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey those who lead you and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Jesus Grew

He “increased.”  That word proekorten means to grow steadily, to keep advancing.  It is a picture of a pioneer cutting through the wilderness to reach his destination.

  • Mentally
  • Physically
  • Spiritually
  • Socially

We need to help our children grow steadily, keep advancing in all four areas above. 

We need to encourage them to learn all they can.  We need to do what we can to provide the resources they need to learn.  We need to be aware of what they are being taught in school and how they are progressing there.

We need to see that they have proper food and exercise so that they grow physically.  We need to make sure they are not “couch potatoes.”

We need to help them grow in their knowledge of God and His Word.  We need to help them understand what it means to be a Christian.

We need to help them develop the skills necessary to function in society at large.  We need to teach them to share, to say “thank you” and “you’re welcome”, to be aware of other people’s needs, to know how to conduct themselves in society.

While we reach a point at which we do not continue to grow physically, we need to also grow steadily, keep advancing in these four areas.

We need to never stop learning.  Science has showed us that those adults who use their mind to keep learning retain their mental capacities much better and for a longer time than those who quit learning. 

We need to take care of our physical bodies.  Our ability to minister for the Lord will be help or hindered by our physical condition as we age.

We need to develop spiritually – always growing in knowledge of God, His Word, and His Spirit.

We need to continue to develop socially – always learning more of what makes people act as they do, what helps minister to people, etc.