Summary: It's easy for us to lose sight of Jesus, but in faith, we will always know his presence with us.
Several years ago the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on the Stages of Aging. In the article, the doctor described a case study he had presented to his students when teaching a class in medical school. He described the case study patient under his care like this:
“The patient neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, respond to her name. I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort to assist her own care. She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others.
“Her food must be pureed. Her shirt is usually soiled from almost incessant drooling. She does not walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she wails until someone comes to comfort her.”
After presenting the class with this challenging case, the doctor then asked his students if any of them would like to volunteer to take care of this person. No one volunteered. Then the doctor said, “I’m surprised that none of you offered to help, because actually she is my favorite patient. I get immense pleasure from taking care of her and I am learning so much from her. She has taught me a depth of gratitude I never knew before. She has taught me the spirit of unwavering trust. And she has taught me the power of unconditional love.”
Then the doctor said, “Let me show you her picture.” He pulled out the picture and passed it around. It was a photo of his six-month-old baby daughter.
I like that story for several reasons. For one thing, it shows us how essential it is to have all the facts before we make a decision. But more importantly, I think, it shows us the importance of perspective. And this story reminds us that our children have so much to teach us if we will just tune in and pay attention; even as the child Jesus had some things to teach his parents; and us too if we will tune in and pay attention.
So let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in this early passage from Luke’s gospel. As Luke opens his gospel, he has made some amazing affirmations about Jesus that help us to understand just exactly who and what Jesus was. From his infancy throughout his childhood and into adulthood, Luke shows us that this is the Christ, the Messiah, our Savior. And here, we are given this glimpse of a twelve year-old boy who confounds his parents, the religious leaders, and many others, even to this day. The point of this passage is not so much to teach us how to be better parents or how to follow God’s will, but Luke has included it here to remind us that this is the Christ: to give us perspective, understanding, and cause for faith.