Jesus grew up as a normal boy, enjoying the
same things that other children of His age did: exploring the
countryside; finding where the foxes had their holes; how the
birds built their nests; playing hide-and-seek with His
brothers and buddies; sharing secrets with His siblings; bringing home wild
flowers for His mother; scraping His knees on rocks; doing the
many other things that parents down through the ages have seen
their children do. Despite stories we may have heard of Jesus
performing miracles while He was a child, there is no record
of His doing so. He grew as a typical child, doing the duties
that children are expected to do, and no doubt helping Joseph
in his carpentry.
Each year Hebrew men were required to make three
pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Exodus 23:14-17 - "Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)- Feast of
Harvest (First fruits of their labors)- Feast of Ingathering
(after the final harvest)- Three times a year all thy males
shall appear before the Lord God."
Thousands of devout Jews poured into Jerusalem, from Syria,
Chaldea, Egypt, Rome, Antioch, and many other places. On many
occasions whole families would make the trek for the feast of
the Passover. Children scrambled in and out among the crowds,
the smaller ones clinging shyly to their mothers' skirts as
they trekked their way to Jerusalem, while older boys and
girls ran around finding old acquaintances, and making new
ones. It was a joyous occasion, one that the whole family
looked forward to. Mothers, busy with the care of their
families, seldom had time to do much socializing, but they did
find it satisfying to be able to be able to compare
experiences with each other. And Jesus was amongst the group,
sometimes running with the other children and sometimes
walking beside His parents.
During the first twelve years of Jesus' life, His knowledge
of the Scriptures increased. He was a diligent student,
eagerly studying the Hebrew laws. This was Jesus' first
recorded trip to Jerusalem, and He was looking forward to the
Passover observance and to seeing the Temple that He had heard
his parents talk about. While other children may have fidgeted
during the formalities, eager for the ceremonies to be
finished so that they could run and play, Jesus sat spellbound
by all that the Scribes and Priests were saying. Everything
that had been mulling around in His mind was coming together.
He had so many questions He wanted to ask the learned men that
were reading the Scriptures to the group.
The Passover ceremonies were over. It was time for the
families to disperse and begin their long treks back to their
individual homes. Again the roads were swarming with
travelers, refreshed in spirit, but eager to get back to their
normal lives. Children ran playfully around, chasing each
other, glad to be active again. It was a jolly and spirited
group that enjoyed fellowship on their journey home, Mary and
Joseph among them. It was now the end of the first day on the
road, time to make camp. Parents called their children to them
to settle them in for the night. Mary and Joseph, expecting
that Jesus was amongst the group of children, had not worried
up until now. But He had not shown up. Where could He be? They
began to ask around to the many others who had children near
to Jesus' age. "Have you seen Jesus? Has He been with your
No. No one had seen Jesus. Where could He be? As they
checked around at the many camps, without finding Him, their
worry turned into panic. What could have happened to their
Son? Forgetting how weary they were, and forgetting how eager
they had been earlier, to get back to the rest of their
family, and ignoring the fact that it was now dark, Mary and
Joseph headed back to Jerusalem.
How could this have happened? How could they not have
noticed? Their emotions went from annoyance to worry. Jesus
was old enough to be responsible for His actions. He knew that
it had been time to go home. Surely He saw the families
grouping together. So what could have happened to Him? Had He
gone the wrong way, following a group of travelers going in
the opposite direction? Surely not! He was an intelligent
Boy. In their normal parental concern, they forgot that Jesus
was the Son of God. To them He was their son, under
their care. And they were responsible for His well being. Oh
where could He be?
As a new day began to break they had reached the outskirts
of Jerusalem. Where, in this vast city would they begin to
look? It was now almost three days since they had seen their
Son. As the weariness of their bodies increased, so did their
panic. Where was Jesus? It wasn't until the day was nearly
over that some of the thoughts that Mary had kept stored in
her heart began to trickle into her mind....
"Let's go back to the Temple." she suggested. "That would
be a logical place to find Him."
As they hurried toward the Temple, Mary and Joseph
discussed how Jesus had sat enthralled during the ceremonies,
listening to the Scriptures being read. They became silent,
hastening their pace.
Entering the Temple, they heading straight to where they
had last seen Jesus. There He was, "sitting in the midst of the teachers, both
listening to them and asking them questions."
Relieved beyond words, they stood for a few
moments, listening to Him, amazed at His knowledge, watching
as the astonished Scribes and Priests asked Him questions.
Mary went up to Him. And as a worried mother is bound to
do, she began scolding Him. "Son, why have
You done this to us? Your father and I have sought You
Jesus just looked at her, and with the simplicity of a
child, but with the maturity of an adult, He said, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I
must be about My Father's business?"
This was the first time that Jesus had made a distinction
between His earthy father and His Heavenly Father. And to
Joseph and Mary the meaning of these words did not immediately
register. But as Mary always did, she kept these things stored
up in her heart. Their meaning would become clear at a much
Still stunned by His wisdom, the Priests and Scribes bid
farewell to the Boy Jesus, as He obediently went home with
Mary and Joseph.
For twelve years Joseph had been Jesus' father, and until
Jesus was fully mature, or until Joseph died, he would carry
on being His father. Jesus continued to mature, both
physically and spiritually, growing in favor with God and