Text: Luke 2:41-52
After the angels went back into heaven, after the shepherds went back to their flocks, after the magi went back to where they had come from, after Mary and Joseph and their their son went back to Nazareth, what happened then? Did Jesus grow up just like any normal child?
In v52 we have nearly 30 years of development summarised in one sentence: ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’
What was his favourite lesson was at school? Don’t have a clue. But surely he must have loved to think and learn about all kinds of things for we read that he ‘grew in wisdom.’
What his favourite sport was? No idea. Well, it seems that he was healthy and strong, for we read that he ‘grew in stature’.
How much time did he spent reading the Scriptures and praying? Not sure. But we do know that he learned to love and serve the Lord, for he ‘grew in favour of God.’
What was the name of his best friend? Don’t know. But we do know that must have got on really well with other people, for he ‘grew in favour of men’.
And that’s pretty much all we are told about the boyhood of Jesus. Remarkable, perhaps. But remarkably normal. In fact, very similar things are said of others, including Samuel, and John the Baptist.
There was just one thing from all these years that really stood out. It was every parent’s nightmare – a lost child.
Each year, Joseph and Mary would go up to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. One year, they took their eldest son, Jesus. He was twelve, just one year before his coming-of-age.
When the time came to make the three-day trek home to Nazareth, they would have travelled in a big group, in order to keep safe. The women and children would have travelled in front, and the men at the back. Mary probably supposed, ‘he’s nearly a grown-up now, he’s with the men at the back.’ And Joseph would have thought, ‘he’s still a child, he’s with his mother at the front.’ What a fright they both had, when they met up at the end of the day, ‘But I thought he was with you!’
Back they trudged to Jerusalem, and hunted around until they found him. There he was, happily discussing the things of God with the religious teachers in the temple courts. They were amazed at his wisdom and insight. But even more amazing was what he said to his parents.
v49 “Why were you searching for me?. Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house [about my Father’s business]?”
I don’t think that any Jew had ever spoken of God like that before.
No wonder v50 says that Mary and Joseph ‘did not understand what he was saying to them.’ Even though they both loved the Scriptures and had longed for the Messiah. Even though they had each had a private visit from an angel. Even though they had been visited by those shepherds and those magi. Even though they had heard remarkable prophecies from the lips of Simeon and Anna when they had presented the baby Jesus in the Temple. They didn’t understand.
But Mary, bless her, ‘treasured all these things in her heart’, v51. Until, finally, she understood.
Not when she cradled the infant Jesus in her arms did she understand.
Not when she watched him grow to be a man did she understand.
Not when she heard his amazing teaching and saw his astonishing miracles did she understand.
Not when she stood near to him as he hung on that terrible cross would she understand.
But when she heard the news that his grave could not hold its victim. Then it was that she was counted among the believers, who prayed and waited for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then, finally, she would have understood.
And we too, who also sometimes find it so difficult to understand, may learn to trust in him, and love him and serve him, and know that it is true.
For that child, so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above.