Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
Luke’s is the only gospel with a story of young Jesus in it. I find it fascinating! It is so hard for me to imagine Jesus as a child or teenager. You can’t really picture Him going through His terrible twos, or dealing with puberty and acne, or any of the other stages normal people go through. And for good reason! As this story shows, Jesus was not a normal boy.
But why include this story? While certainly interesting, at first glance it doesn’t seem to have much of a point. Let’s look at it this way. So far Luke’s aim has been to assure us of two things: 1) Jesus is the one foretold by the prophets (and so is John), and 2) He is the Son of God. Every story we’ve read so far has pointed in one way or another to these two things. This story functions to end any remaining doubts.
Jesus is God’s Son. He did not grow into the role of Messiah, He was born that way. Even as a child He spoke with wisdom and authority in the Temple! At only twelve years old He amazed the teachers with His understanding. Just a boy, He already understands who His Father is, and probably who He is as well. This story shows us that Jesus did not just wake up one day and decide He wanted to be King of the Jews. His path was chosen for Him before He was even born. He was favored by God from the day of His birth, and that favor only grew as He became the man who would change the world.