Luke 2:42-51 :
When he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it, but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they didn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him. It happened after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.”
He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” They didn’t understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth. He was subject to them, and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
This is a very interesting part of Jesus’ life growing up. I believe that it is communicating something important about religious tradition and love.
Notice that Luke carefully informs us that the days of the feast were over according to the rules. Rules spell out our duty and after a while they can be followed without involving the heart much. At the young age of 12, Jesus was already separating between traditions and love. Why not stay in the Father’s house as long as He wants, rather than as long as the custom says? I can feel for Jesus’ parents in that running around town for a day looking for Him was probably very frustrating, but, it is true, that the temple should have been the first place to look for the Son of God, and we don’t stay at our friends and families houses for a specific number of days and leave right on time if they ask us to stay.
We know that Jesus was not disobeying his parents because He couldn’t sin, so He is already giving us a lesson here. There are times when what God wants and what parents assume are different. It is interesting that the way to deal with this problem is the same for children and parents. Both should be focused on love not tradition.
Parents need to remember to see things from God’s perspective not just from a traditional one as they train their children. Children should be obedient to their parents as to the Lord. If what parents say goes against the love of God, children must love God first and do what He wants. Jesus “was subject to” His parents because that is what His Father wanted Him to do. He was also right that His Father’s house was worthy of more attention than mere tradition required. It is important for both parents and children to really love God! At this point, young Jesus had much more to show the world about true love and devotion to God.