“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must b e in my Father’s house?”(Luke 2:49)


Jesus stayed behind in the temple listening and asking questions of the religious teachers for three days. He clearly didn’t regard his behaviour as disobedient or even particularly surprising. Mary’s first question seems very natural, she asks Jesus how he could have put his parents through three days of frantic worry. But to Jesus, it seemed obvious where he had been and why he would have been there. It also seems clear to me that any parent hearing an answer like the one Jesus gave would find it hard to understand.

Whatever actually took place on this extraordinary occasion, one point seems clear. Even aged only twelve years old, Jesus’s priorities were pretty firmly fixed. His first obligation was to his heavenly father. His next priority was to live obediently with his parents.


Luke 2:41-52 NLT

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travellers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and all the people.


Mary and Joseph didn’t know what to think about Jesus’s three day absence and they didn’t understand his explanation. They were clearly confused. I think they were torn between feelings of anger at his thoughtlessness and pride at his boldness and confidence. But Jesus wasn’t confused. Jesus aged only twelve years understood the way of things. Jesus knew that his father in heaven was the most important thing in his life and he had begun to study the scriptures. My goal is to keep a grip on my priorities and study, in the hope that like Jesus did, I might also grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and all the people.

Today’s readings:

Numbers 26:1-51, Luke 2:36-52, Psalms 60:1-12, Proverbs 11:15


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