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Here is a lesson in worry from our Master Jesus. Jesus wasn’t worried. He wasn’t anxious. He was just doing what He knew to do which was be in His Father’s house.

His parents were worried. Jesus was not. I should be concerned about doing my Father’s business and not worry about anything else.

Jesus continued to grow this way. Stuff just did not faze Him because He was listening to His Heavenly Father and just doing what He heard Him saying.

May I be about my Father’s business and grow in His favor. May I worry about whether I am pleasing him.

Here are the key ideas:

  • Jesus challenges us to focus on pleasing God. There is nothing more important.
  • God’s goal for us is to grow in wisdom.
  • Our growth should focus on what God thinks about us.
  • We can go from weak to strong in Jesus.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

English Standard Version. (2016). (Luke 2:48–52). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. 

The annual trip for the Passover was one of the highlights of the Jewish year, one of three annual festivals that were celebrated in the capital. Most families that lived some distance from Jerusalem, such as Jesus’ parents, went to only one feast a year.

  • Passover fell in the Jewish month of Nisan (late March and early April).
  • The feast celebrated the birth of Israel’s freedom at the Exodus.
  • Men were required to attend, but women were not, so Mary’s going shows the depth of the family’s piety. The trip from Nazareth normally took three days.
  • People traveled in caravans for protection. We do not know if men and women and children were separated during the journey.

On this occasion, Jesus remains behind in Jerusalem. Only after a day’s travel do his parents discover he is not with the group, for they do not find him with relatives. They undoubtedly assumed Jesus was somewhere in the throng, though the text itself does not explain how he could go unmissed for a day.

By the time they find their son, he has been missing for three days—one day out with the caravan, another day back, and one day looking for him. They discover Jesus among the teachers in the temple, listening to them, asking questions, and giving reply.

In that day, it was not unusual for students to gather at the feet of the rabbis to discuss theology, often in a question-and-answer discussion format.

  • Even at this young age Jesus has amazing knowledge of the things of God.
  • In fact, those listening to him are astonished at his understanding, a reaction that will occur later to Jesus’ miraculous work.
  • Already early in life Jesus values the pursuit of comprehending God, as he increases “in wisdom and stature”.
  • His approach to knowing God and seeking understanding pictures how we should pursue the same, even at a young age.

Any parent reading this account understands what happens next. Jesus’ parents are overwhelmed by what has taken place and move to recover their son. A frustrated mother asks her budding adolescent how he could have behaved this way, leaving his parents with a major anxiety attack.

Jesus’ reply is just as direct: “I must be about the … of my Father” (lit. trans.). This elliptical saying has been variously understood. The NIV’s rendering about being “in my Father’s house,” is the preferred way to render this idiom.3 Jesus’ point is that his career must be about instruction on the way of God, for the temple was not only a place of worship but was also a place of teaching. Jesus has a call to instruct the nation. Though he is twelve now, a day is coming when this will be his priority.

The reference to his Father is also crucial, since it infers an intimate personal relationship to God that drives him. Early on Jesus understands that he is called to do his Father’s work. By saying “I had to be,” Jesus begins to undertake such a path, a route that one day will mean he will go his own way. Luke loves to mark key sayings with dei (“it is necessary”) to show the presence of the fulfillment of God’s plan. Here is the high point of the infancy narrative, as Jesus explains his call in his own words. In the meantime, he is obedient to his parents.

All Mary can do is ponder such events in her heart, something Luke’s reader is to do also. We should recall that Jesus makes it clear that those who know God have, in a sense, two families—the biological one in which God has placed them and the spiritual one they have because they know him.