The Young Jesus: No Ordinary Child
As I am preparing my lessons for my class this fall, I have been reading through the assigned texts for the course I will be teaching. As an adjunct professor for this introductory class I am required to teach certain areas of interest that have been organized into modules. One of those modules is about Jesus. As we all know, there have been many books written about the Son of God. Many people have many different opinions about who this man was and what made his life more significant than the lives of others.
From scripture, we know that there is very little written about his childhood. The only reference made to this notion can be found in Luke 2:41-52, where Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the Temple. This story is unique among the canonical gospels because it is only found in Luke. If you are unfamiliar with this story I encourage you to take a moment to read it. Mary, Joseph, and the young Jesus were in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast as it was a custom of the Jewish faith. Once the feast was over, Mary and Joseph left (unbeknownst to them at the time that Jesus was not with them) and made their way home. After some time, they journeyed back to Jerusalem in search of their son. After three days, they found him in the Temple conversing with the teachers and asking them questions. Much to Mary’s relief, they had found him but there was concern displayed from the loving Mary as to why her son would do such a thing. The twelve year old Jesus told her, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I would be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NAB) That is quite a profound response for a pre-adolescent. Nevertheless, he left the Temple with his parents and he remained obedient to them.
Even though this story is quite brief it has a profound message to convey. It is very clear that Jesus was no ordinary child. Luke 2:40 says, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” (NAB) The writer(s) of this Gospel emphasized that the young boy was wise beyond his years. Those who listened to him in the Temple were surprised by his answers and the questions he asked. What also makes the young Jesus unique is that he had a very clear understanding of what his purpose was in life. He told his mother, Mary, that he was in his Father’s house. This can also be translated to mean “my father’s work.” Jesus acknowledged his divine relationship with God and also his obedience to his heavenly father. As a young boy, Jesus knew what his life would require more of him.
This story also conveys another powerful message. Jesus was raised to be obedient. The story presents the young boy as a faithful Jewish boy, who was raised in the traditions of Israel, and fulfilling what the law required. There were many Jewish laws and traditions that were to be followed and by observing these Jesus was being obedient to his faith. Not only that, even though Jesus was obedient to his divine responsibilities, he was obedient to his earthly parents.
We may not have a lot of information on Jesus, as a young boy, but we do know this: 1) He was wise beyond his years, knowing his full purpose, and 2) he was obedient, not only to his heavenly Father but also his faith and his earthly parents. These are qualities that you will see in the average twelve year old in the 21st century. No matter the age one thing is for certain: Jesus was certainly a special young man.