Mary Finds Jesus at the Temple

Jesus has grown up in the intervening years

Jesus has grown up in the intervening years

Over a decade has passed since we last saw Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph.  The family was fleeing to Egypt the last time we checked in with them.

We’re not told what happened in the intervening years. At some point the family has returned to their homeland from Egypt.  We do know they returned after the death of Herod. Jesus childhood home is identified as the town of Nazareth, which was located in Galilee.

By this point Jesus most likely already had siblings.  We know he had sisters, although their names are unknown.  He also had four brothers that we know of, James, Joses {a form of Joseph}, Judas and Simon.

Jesus was now a pre-teen, but we know that he was perfect.  So he wasn’t mouthy and rebellious the way many children this age are. More than likely he was already apprenticing with Joseph in the carpenter’s shop by this age.

Jesus goes with his parents to the temple

Jesus goes with his parents to the temple

Can you feel his excitement at going to the temple?

Luke 2:41-52 (KJV)

Now 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 after the custom of the feast.

Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for Passover.  In the Jewish law, the twelfth year is classified as the dividing line between childhood and youth.

Wikipedia says, “On completing this year a Hebrew boy was called a son of the law, and also a son of God. He was given special opportunities for religious instruction, and was expected to participate in the sacred feasts and observances. It was in accordance with this custom that Jesus in His boyhood made the Passover visit to Jerusalem. Like all devout Israelites, Joseph and Mary went up every year to attend the Passover; and when Jesus had reached the required age, they took Him with them.”

The family traveled with a caravan of others from their town

The family traveled with a caravan of others from their town

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

 

Today we are frantic when we are unable to find a child, but Mary and Joseph were not too worried.  They were probably part of a large caravan of family and friends travelling together for the feast.  Not until a full day had passed and they were unable to find Jesus among their kin and friends travelling with them did they become concerned.

Mary and Joseph searched three days for their son before returning to the temple

Mary and Joseph searched three days for their son before returning to the temple

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

Only when they were unable to find him did they turn back to Jerusalem to search for him.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

 

Three days passed before his parents found Jesus in the temple.  When they did locate him he was talking with a group of knowledgeable men.  Other versions of the text refer to these men as teachers.  Children of this age are not expected to be teaching.

The found Jesus teaching in the temple

The found Jesus teaching in the temple

The Four Gospels commentary says, “Mary and Joseph stood as much in awe of these renowned national teachers as peasants do of kings, and were therefore astonished that their youthful son presumed to speak to them.”
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

 

Notice that it was Mary that approaches Jesus and reprimands him instead of Joseph.   Jesus had clearly been told when the caravan would be leaving and that he was expected to join them on the journey home.

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Mary rebuked her son and we hear his first recorded words

Mary rebuked her son and we hear his first recorded words

These are the first recorded words of Jesus.  He has disobeyed his earthly parents to obey his heavenly Father.

The same commentary says, “Mary, knowing all that had been divinely revealed to her concerning Jesus, should have expected to find him in the temple.”

Jesus is speaking here of his heavenly Father and not his earthly father, Joseph.

Can you imagine the confused looks on the faces of those that were gathered around?

50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Jesus returned home with his parents and we have no recorded record of him for the next two decades

Jesus returned home with his parents and we have no recorded record of him for the next two decades

Our commentary goes on to say, “It may seem strange that Mary, knowing all that she did concerning the birth of Jesus, etc., did not grasp the meaning of his words, but we are all slow to grasp great truths; and failure to be understood was therefore a matter of daily occurrence with Jesus….Christ spoke plainly, but human ears were slow to comprehend his wonderful sayings. We need to be watchful lest our ears be censured for a like slowness.”

I know there are times I’ve been slow when God has tried to reveal things to me.

Although, the text seems to implicate that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was saying, what about those others that were gathered around.  Imagine the confusion on their faces.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

They left and Jesus continued to learn and grow.  We don’t see him for almost two decades.  During this time Joseph has invariably died and Jesus is preparing to begin his earthly ministry.

Photos Courtesy of FreeBibleImages.com

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