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Luke 2:41-52 1
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.


Here in Luke, we find the only real story of Jesus’s childhood. It seems like a Hollywood movie, “Home Alone 2,” Joseph and Mary forget the Messiah in Jerusalem after a holiday trip. Days go by and Jesus is found in the temple, holding His own, having discussions with the church leaders. Maybe the most shocking point of this story comes from Jesus’s response to his mother when she finds him. Mary says, “how could you do this to us [paraphrased]” Jesus responds, why were you looking everywhere, where else would I be but in my “Father’s House.” What is shocking is that both Mary and Joseph knew the circumstances of their son’s lineage. It is almost as if after twelve years of childhood, His earthly parents were forgetting that Jesus is “the Son of God.” It is easy for humans, for Christians, to become accustomed to life and let their guard down. It just takes a few seconds and we find ourselves searching for what we consider most precious.

It is for the honor of Christ that children should attend public worship. His parents did not return home till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. Mary and Joseph had created a Godly household, making the annual pilgrimage to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.  They did so with a crowd of people from their village, and considered it good to be there, not an obligation of faith. This story reminds us that when we become too comfortable with the world around us, we can easily lose sight of Christ. When we discover that loss, the response must be to turn back and find Him. And where do we look? We must go to the place in which He has put His name; there we hope to meet Him again.

Mary and Joseph found Him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; Jesus was sitting there, listening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with Him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine Truth. Children need to be exposed to the Word of God, be taught the gospel’s message, and feel free to ask questions of their elders and teachers so they may increase their own knowledge.

Whether because of sorrow or joy, we all should know where to find Jesus. As Jesus answers his mother, “I had to be in my Father’s house.” Although Jesus was the Son of God, He was also subject to his earthly parents. Jesus’s ministry would not start for another 18 years. Yet, He obediently returned to the guidance and council of this parents. There is no substitute for Godly parenting. Jesus needed it and so does every child in today’s world need it.

In the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, Jesus is the model for the apostles who are the leaders and models for the church. In the broad sense, then, the last line of this passage is a model for Christian education and child raising: to encourage children to increase in wisdom and in stature (the latter a preferable translation to “years”). Wisdom and stature refer to the capacity to discern God’s real purposes and to respond accordingly.

Items for Discussion

  • Have you ever lost a child or while a child have been lost yourself?
  • How is it that one knows when they are lost?
  • What are the dangers of being lost but not knowing it?
  • How does a child (or adult) learn discernment?
  • What do you think that Jesus, the Son of God, learned by His years with Mary and Joseph?

Discussion Challenge

  • What type of life must a person lead so that they never leave Jesus behind?




  1. NIV New International Version Translations