Luke 2:41-52 (ESV)
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Luke continues the account of Jesus’ early years. Mary and Joseph were godly parents, and they obeyed the Law by going to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover. The Passover itself lasted a day, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted for seven more days, followed it. Often, the entire eight-day period was referred to as the Passover. So according to the account, when Jesus was twelve years old, he and his family journeyed with a group to Jerusalem, participated in the Passover festivities, and began their return home, as was their custom. One day into the trip back to Nazareth, Joseph and Mary realized Jesus was missing from their large group. This must have been totally out of character for Jesus, who clearly always did everything right. His parents were “in great distress.” It took Joseph and Mary a day to get back to Jerusalem. They must have been nervous and even panicked, wondering what could have happened to Jesus. After another day of scouring Jerusalem for him, they finally found him. He was in the temple, asking the teachers questions and listening to their answers. His parents were astonished, literally “struck out of their senses” (v. 48). What was he doing? Mary asked him why he had treated them so thoughtlessly. Jesus replied by asking Mary, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus suggested they should have known exactly where he was.
This can seem like a particularly strange story. It appears as if the flawless, God-man acted selfishly and disrespectfully toward his loving parents. But that’s not the case. Evidently, by the age of twelve, Jesus knew who his true Father was and his true purpose. When they returned home, Jesus remained obedient to the parenting of Joseph and Mary as he continued to grow in favor with not only man, but God as well. At twelve years old, Jesus passionately longed to learn about God and the things of God. He knew God was his Father, and he wanted to know his Father as intimately as possible. If we are followers of Jesus, then God is our Father too. Do you long to know God like Jesus did? Set aside extra time this week to read and study the Scripture. You’ll never regret the time you spend getting to know more about your God.