Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Apparently, mankind has been curious about Jesus’ childhood and has desired to “fill in the blanks” concerning His temperament, personality, and activities during those formidable years. Most famously, the apocryphal (literally, “hidden writings,” not claiming or meeting the test of inspiration) “Gospel of Thomas” writes detailed, lengthy accounts of what Jesus did and how Jesus was as a boy. Mary Jane Chaignot summarizes this book, saying, “The gospel portrays Jesus as already endowed with special powers, but still having the mind of a child – a child who didn’t always use those powers wisely” (reference). Truly, a reading of this “gospel” (you can find the entire text: here) contradicts the idea of a sinlessly perfect Savior who could be our substitute and is at odds with the little we do see in the inspired writings of the gospels. It reflects humanity’s tendency to make God in his own image (see Psalm 50:21). Having said that, we benefit from what Luke is led to share with us from an incident when Jesus is twelve years old (2:42). “At the age of 12 a boy was prepared for his entry to the religious community which took place when he was 13” (Marshall, NIGTC, 126).
HE WAS FAITHFULLY TRAINED BY HIS PARENTS (Luke 2:41-42)
Luke reveals another fact consistent with what we’ve already seen from Joseph and Mary. They were faithfully obedient to the Law’s demands and commands. Every year, they went to the Passover feast (41). Did you know the entire nation of Israel neglected to properly observe the Passover from the days of Samuel to the time of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:21-23)? That means that such spiritual greats as David, Solomon, and Hezekiah failed in this regard during their illustrious reigns. Jesus’ parents made sure He was there every appointed time. That’s where we find Him in this account. By application, what a lesson for us as parents interested in the proper training of our children. At its best, this is difficult as we compete with the world’s message and appeal. We cannot afford to lose ground by keeping them from the fellowship of God’s people. Joseph and Mary were stewards of a precious soul.
HE WAS ENGROSSED IN LEARNING GOD’S WORD (43-47)
Jesus obviously did not restrict His study of Scripture to the “assemblies,” though. His family stayed the prescribed time in Jerusalem for the feast (seven days, according to Exo. 12:15), but Jesus, unencumbered with the time concerns of adults, stays behind (43)–not to play or get into mischief, but to sit in the temple among the teachers listening to them and asking them questions (46). His level of comprehension and depth of explanation amazed these experts on the Law of Moses, the best of the best (47). Seeing the spiritual focus of twelve-year-old Jesus, I am convicted to push myself to more intensely long for the nourishment of God’s Word (1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:2).
HE WAS IN SUBJECTION TO HIS PARENTS (48-51)
Luke tells us of the distress His family felt when they discovered He was not in the caravan of their relatives and other fellow-pilgrims making the long, arduous journey back to Nazareth. They go back and search for Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple (44-46). Anyone who has even briefly lost their children at the mall or left them at the church building can well imagine what Joseph and Mary must have felt. This special child with which they were entrusted is lost! Where did He sleep those few nights He was alone? How early did He arrive and how late did He stay? When His parents do find Him, they find Him content and apparently unaware that they were looking for Him. His answer perplexes them, that He was being about His Father’s business. They felt mistreated, but nothing in Jesus’ reply demonstrates disrespect or dishonor. Luke reinforces this both with the statement of fact, that “He continued in subjection to them,” and the statement about His character (52). The One who would later demonstrate such amazing preaching and power was properly preparing Himself. That preparation included being what He should be in the home.
HE WAS GROWING IN EVERY GOOD WAY (52)
There are biblical statements which are incredibly comprehensive. The five fundamental demonstrations of nature, time, force, motion, space, and matter, are revealed in the first verse of the Bible. Here, the four areas of human development, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social, are evident in the life of young Jesus. He “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (52). Parents, this teaches us about the responsibility we have to encourage the balanced development of our children. We cannot afford to neglect any of these areas. Do not downplay or downgrade the importance of learning and an education which does not come at the expense of faith. Help them to take care of their physical bodies, with proper nutrition, exercise, and teaching them to work and play. Make sure they are socially well-adjusted, not just with peers but also those older and younger than them–able to properly interact with strangers, acquaintances, and friends. Most of all, strive to develop their knowledge of the Bible and faith in the God who loves them. It’s a difficult balancing act, but it can be done! Like Jesus, our children need to grow in every good way!