And Jesus Grew…

First Sunday of Christmas

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26  •  Psalm 148  •  Colossians 3:12-17  •  Luke 2:41-52

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.

When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Luke 2:41-52 New Living Translation (NLT)


This account of Jesus at twelve years old is the only boyhood account we have of Jesus’ life. Luke tells us about Jesus birth and then his dedication. For the most part, the Gospel writers pick-up Jesus’ life and ministry when he begins his public ministry, namely his baptism.

Luke gives us an idea that Jesus was a normal human boy except that he seemed to have extraordinary knowledge for a twelve year old. I can only imagine the panic in Mary and Joseph when the found out that Jesus wasn’t traveling with other family in the caravan. It took them three days to find Jesus. They backtracked to Jerusalem and found Jesus sitting among the teachers of the law – not only listening – but asking questions – and they were amazed.

I think the frantic and panic shows up in Mary’s voice, “Why have you done this to us?” It reminds me of a story from sixth grade:

I’ll never forget many years ago, I was sitting in music class in sixth grade. Even then I loved music. We had a substitute that day, but she knew about music and was teaching us about theme and variation, using Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. She was playing the different variations, an unknown to me, I was humming along, but not the melody – the harmony – without music in front of me. To me this was a natural thing and I didn’t even realize I was doing it, when the teacher asked the class, “Who is doing that?” She looked right in my direction. I was one of those kids who kept his nose clean even when we had a substitute. She asked me, “Do you know what you are doing?” Really, you’re asking me…I’m sitting innocently listening to you, my thoughts. She said, “You’re humming. Do you know what you’re humming.” Singing harmony was very natural to me, so I had no idea what she was getting at. She said, “You’re singing harmony!” I already knew that, but was glad I was off the hook. She told the class what I was doing was humming an alternate part and she used it as part of the lesson.

Jesus probably didn’t even realize what was happening – He was so in the moment that he didn’t realize that he had upset his parents. He tried to explain, but then was obedient and returned with his earthly parents.

I think this is a great example of the humanity of Jesus – Jesus who was fully God and yet, he was a normal twelve year old boy. Many years ago, the Wesleyan Church had something called CYC or Christian Youth Crusaders. It was like Pioneer Girls or Brigade Boys. Our theme in CYC was found in the last verse of our passage today and a reminder that we need to grow in our discipleship, even as Jesus did…

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Luke 2:52
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