Summary: This story from Jesus’ childhood, confronts us with the challenges of prioritizing our lives so that we, like Jesus, are about our Father’s business
Luke 2:41-52 ”Discover the Christ Who Is About His Father’s Business”
Growing up is never easy. Each one of us has stories to tell of super highs and crashing lows. We vividly remember the struggle of trying to figure out who we were and what life was all about. We also, with perhaps a little shame, recall the hurt feelings and strained relationships that our growing up and becoming our own person caused.
Knowing what we went through may give us some insight and understanding in to this story about Jesus. Those of us who are older not only can cut the twelve-year old Jesus a little slack, we can also sympathize with Mary and her angst. The younger ones among us see Jesus’ struggle as their struggle for independence and identity and offer the words of encouragement, “You go, Jesus.”
There is a significant difference between Jesus and ourselves, though. We seek to declare our independence and individuality. Jesus sought to declare his independence and at the same time his servitude.
TRAINED AND NURTURED
No one knows when Jesus realized that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, and what that entailed. We know that introducing himself as the Son of God to his grade school classmates probably wouldn’t have won him any friends. We have several stories of Jesus’ childhood in writings that were never accepted by the Church. This is the only canonical story of Jesus between his birth and the beginning of his ministry. Certainly, he has had a glimpse of who he is by the time he was twelve and this scene takes place. Jesus clearly knows that he is to be about his father’s business, but he may not know exactly what that business entails.
No matter his inside connections to God the Father it is important to note that Mary and Joseph made sure that Jesus was raised in the religious traditions of the people of Israel. They observed the Passover Feast by making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year. As a proper Jewish family, we assume that they also observed the many religious rituals and traditions that were customary during that period of history. Perhaps one of the reasons that Mary was chosen to be the mother of God, and Joseph his adoptive father was because the Lord knew that they would bring up their child within the community of faith.
During Jesus’ first twelve years he heard the story of the Exodus over and over again. The Exodus is the central historical event for the Jews. In this way it is similar to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection for Christians. When Jesus heard this story, he learned about God’s steadfast love and how God moved in history to answer the prayers of his people and bring them into the Promised Land.
Jesus’ actions were based not only on his relationship with God the Father, but also on his understanding of God’s steadfast and overwhelming love.
Jesus was obviously a gifted theologian and had an interest in religious subjects. His gifts and talents naturally led him away from Joseph’s vocation as a carpenter and toward that of a rabbi and teacher.
Based on his talents, and passions, along with the love of God of which he had heard, Jesus determined that he had to be about his heavenly father’s business. He needed to spend less time in the carpenter’s shop and more time in the temple precincts. The truth that he was the Son of God, the Messiah—the one who was chosen to save all of humankind—would mold and shape his life. With the knowledge of who he was, Jesus decided that he would be intentional about the direction of his life.
At the same time, Jesus was still obedient to his parents. After spending some time with the renowned teachers and rabbis in Jerusalem, he returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth. His life with them was lived in the shadow of who he was and what he was called to do.
A YEAR OF GROWTH
We are in similar positions to Jesus. We too have heard of God’s love and the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. In our baptism and our relationship with God we have become children of God and God’s lights and witnesses.
We are invited to see the center of our lives as being about our Father’s business. This is a vastly different perspective than viewing religion as simply something that we do on Sunday. God nudges us to allow the understanding that we are people of God and servants of God to mold and to shape who we are and what we do. Such knowledge should affect how we live out our vocation, the type of parent or child we are, our spending priorities, and our outlook on life.