The Gospel of Luke: The Boy, the Father, and Submission (Part 2) Luke 2:41-52

Luke chapter one through two can be qualified as a time lapse, as it is with all the chapters in the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When Luke started his gospel, he set the stage, sharing to anyone who reads his gospel, that God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin who was called Mary.  Luke chapter one and two is about the infancy of Jesus (this also includes John the Baptist infancy story).  However, in the latter part of Luke chapter two verses thirty-nine through fifty-two is about Jesus as a teenage boy until he reaches adulthood.

These verses do not include any miracles. There are no angels visiting people to share with them good news like the angel Gabriel did with Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds. included in these verses.  There is nothing supernatural about these verses. However, the significance of these verses is the relationship he has with God the Father and his earthly parents.

Twelve years passed from the time Jesus first visited the temple as a baby and this was the same time Simeon, a devout Jew, bestowed a blessing upon Jesus.  You can read Simeon’s praise of Jesus in Luke 2:29-35.  And this was the twelfth year for Joseph and Mary to visit the temple as a couple and it was the same length of years that they became parents to Jesus.

Why where they there at the temple?  Why Joseph and Mary along with the young boy Jesus completed the pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem?  What motivated them to travel “eighty miles [from Nazareth], lasting us to three to four days” to reach the temple (MacArthur, 2009)? It was their custom to visit the temple every year.  It was their heart desire to be with God’s people, more importantly, to be with God.

They were there to commemorate and celebrate the Feast of the Passover.  The Passover was Israel’s national holiday.  This holiday was celebrated to remember that God allowed a death angel to kill every firstborn child of the Egyptians, but the Israelites who scarified a lamb and place the blood of the lamb over the doorpost, the death angel Passover that home which sealed Israel deliverance from Egyptian enslavement.

According to Exodus 23:17, God commanded all Jewish males to travel to Jerusalem to partake in the Passover.  They were to do this every year.  Some of the Jewish people traveled two-hundred miles or more to make it to Jerusalem.  Their pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem exemplifies their devotion and obedience to God and His Word.  Their custom to travel to Jerusalem was at their expense, it costed them time and energy and they were financially poor, but they were rich in heart, because they knew being fellowshipping other believers strengthen their walk with the Lord. They were the Jews who belonged to the faithful remnant of God in Israel because they believed by faith and not by works (cf. Romans 11:6).  Therefore, they were willing to traveled as many miles needed to celebrate the Passover. They were the ones who followed Hebrews 10:25: “Not neglecting to meet together”; the KJV says, “Not forsaking the assembly” (KJV).  Their devotion was not only in word but it was demonstrated in their deeds.  They were not j modern Christians is that they

If you had the ability to fast forward your life up to twelve years would you do it? This is exactly what Luke did in his gospel as he wrote about the life of Jesus.  Verse forty-two says, “[Jesus] was twelve-year-old, and they went up according to custom.”  That day was a momentous day for Jesus.  He was twelve years old and it was the Feast of the Passover. Whenever Jewish boys turns twelve-year-old it means that they were now becoming morally and legally held accountable to the Law of God.  It means that under God’s Law, that is the Mosaic Law, they were at the edge of being considered as legal adults.  This is why Mary who was thirteen at the time married a fourteen-year-old boy named because they both were considered as legal adults to be betrothed to each other. In the United States eighteen-year-old teenagers are considered as adult under the judicial laws in America.  If an eighteen-year-old commits a crime they would be charge as an adult, compared to a sixteen or seventeen-year-old who would be charge as a child.  So, the point Luke is making is that Jesus was becoming of age, he was becoming a man, and he was soon to be morally and legally held accountable to God’s Law because he was twelve and eventually, he would turn thirteen years old.

Once Jesus turned thirteen his parents Joseph and Mary would have commenced a ceremony known as a Bar Mitzvah which literally means son of the law or son of the covenant.  And this ceremony signified that he was a legal adult and equal to his parents.  When he turned thirteen years old, he was no longer a boy but a man who was to be responsible to God’s Law.

This is different from our society, we believe and act accordingly that thirteen-year-old boys are boys, not men. But Jesus was no ordinary boy, he was and will forever be God, the Second Person of the Trinity.  Many twelve and thirteen year of boys are ignorant, self-conceded, and maturing in a life of sin; they are bad little boys. Jesus matured in holiness as a young boy.  He had to face the temptation of lust, greed, anger, jealousy, all kinds of covetousness, but he faced those temptations without ever sinning.  He was the perfect child that every parent wanted, every parent wishes their children was like Jesus.  He was everyone’s little angel, figuratively speaking.

Most people recite passages like Psalm 119:43 which says “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.”  Passages like Psalm 119:43 wasn’t written for Jesus, it was written for sinners, it was written for you and me.  We are the ones who need understanding, we are the ones who have broken God’s Laws. Jesus is the author of God’s Laws and there was not a never a moment in Jesus life where he didn’t uphold God’s Laws. Can you say that you have not broken God’s Laws? If not, trust in Jesus as your Savior because he is your only hope of salvation.  Nevertheless, this is what it meant for Jesus to be a twelve-year-old boy who was held accountable of upholding God’s Law.

The priests would have been slaughtering animals every hour, they would have been covered in blood from head to toe and the temple walls would have been splattered with blood.  The Feast of the Passover lasted eight days and each individual and family had their own animal to be offered to the priest, so the number of animals that was slaughtered could have ranged up to fifty-thousand or more.  That was the screen of the Passover but it was also the fate of a twelve-year-old boy named Jesus.  While he and his parents were celebrating the Passover and presenting their own sacrifice to the priest to be slain, they didn’t know that their own child, Jesus Christ, was and is the ultimate sacrifice for their own sins and the sin of the world.  They possessed the only sacrifice that would do away temple sacrifices.  And I am sure Jesus knew and foresaw his own death, He knew within eighteen to twenty-one years that
God the Father predestined him to be slaughtered as a sacrificial lamb (cf. Acts 4:28), to die upon the cross in the place of underserving sinners.  This is why John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  In the book of Revelations, it says, “everyone whose name have not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelations 13:8).  Jesus Christ was that lamb who was slain and his mind as a twelve-year-old boy understood the gravity of his own death.

Verse forty-three says, “And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem” (2:43). As I have stated, the Feast of the Passover lasted for eight days and Joseph and Mary stayed for the entire eight days, but the feast ended and it was time for them to travel eighty miles or more back to Nazareth, according to verse forty-three.

We should not always complain about traveling from one location to another because we have automobiles that helps us to travel faster and further than people in biblical times. If you walk from this church to the City of Cleveland, it will take you approximately 12 hours or more. Now imagine Mary and Joseph traveling from Jerusalem in a caravan and returning to Nazareth in the same manner.  That equals to one-hundred sixty miles for one round trip.

Luke adds tension to the story by telling us, as they were returning to Nazareth, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem and his parents assumed that he was with their relatives, neighbors and acquaintances but he was not. They traveled typically in groups, women and children would be ahead of the group and the men would have been right behind them.  And they thought that Jesus was with another group. The text says, “But supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem searching for him” (2:44-45)

When I was a teenager, my family took a family vacation to Florida.  When we arrived at our destination, we all went to our hotel rooms.  My nephew and cousin and my cousin were around the age of five and they wondered off by themselves near the hotel rooms.  After my family that they were missing, we all started searching for them. We knock on every hotel door, called out their names and we couldn’t find them.  After fifteen to thirty minutes of searching for them, we found them located by someone’s hotel room, which was a room that we passed by walking, they standing there by themselves crying for their life.  I believe that they were taken against their will, only God truly know what happened. Imagine not knowing where your child is or who they are with.  Every good parent would search anxiously for their child until they are found.  This was the exact feeling that Joseph and Mary had after they realized that Jesus did not return to Nazareth.  Mary must have felt that she was the worst parent in the world to lose the Son of God.  How can you lose God’s Son?  No, I am teasing.  I am sure she felt that she needed to find her first born child and so they journeyed by to Jerusalem to do so.

Was Jesus being disobedient toward Mary and Joseph? Did he know that his parents were worried about his well-being? How could he do such a thing?  He was not disobedient toward his parents by staying behind in Jerusalem, nor was his parents irresponsible for not knowing Jesus whereabouts (MacArthur, 193).  Jesus was not a delinquent young boy; he was not like one of those kids on the Dr. Phil show complaining about not having enough money to purchase the latest iPhone or fancy car or clothes.

In Ephesians 6:1-4 says,

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Mark 7:9-11 says,

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,


Jesus never acted in a manner in which his parents questioned him behaviorally, there was not need to because he was the perfect child. He always honored his parents despite any traditions.  Ephesians 6:1-4 and Mark 7:9-11 doesn’t apply to Jesus, it was written for us.  If your mom or dad ever discipled you by means of spankings or verbal correction, that means you have broken God’s law by not honoring your mother and father.

What prompted Jesus to not returned to Nazareth when his parents expected him to come back?  Because he was more obligated to honor his heavenly Father more than his earthly parents.  Another way of understanding this is as follows. It is always important to be obedient towards your parents because God place you with them to be their child. But what if my parents are not married and divorce, or in same-sex relationship, or my parents are atheist?  What shall I do then? You should honor your mother and father, but if your parents are parenting your contrary to God’s Law then you should obey God instead of your parents (e.g., Acts 4:19).  What I just explained to you wasn’t the case for Joseph and Mary, but Jesus knew within him that staying behind was more important because, I believe, his heavenly Father compelled him to do so.

Verses forty-six and forty-seven says, after Joseph and Mary searched for “three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  And when his parents saw him, they were astonished.”

They found him in the temple listening, understanding and providing answers to theological questions.  Again, he was listening, understanding, and answering.  He was amongst wise and teachers who memorized and studied diligently God’s Word.  When people had theological questions, they would go to teachers or Rabbis, a person who was a scholar to asked.  In today’s society most people do not care to listen, understand God’s Word, in fact, most Christians cannot provide a decent answer for why they believe the Bible (e.g., 1 Peter 3:15); most Christians do not read God’s Word for understanding; most Christians find more satisfaction in this world than God’s Word.

This wasn’t the case for Jesus.  Paul said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  Jesus was the humble student became the teacher who amazed everyone by his understanding and answers of God’s Word.  Psalm 119:99-100 says, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.”  Is this true for you? Are people amazed by your understanding of God’s word, or do people turned away from you because of your ignorance of God’s Word?

The teachers were amazed by Jesus and so was his parent after finding him the temple.  They were astonished by what they observed that day in the temple while Jesus was learning and teaching in the same setting.  They were not expecting Jesus to be in the temple with all the teachers of Judaism, they probably expected him to be wondering around searching for them.

If your intentionally left somewhere without your permission, what would you do? What would you say to them after searching and finally finding them? Would you be ecstatic that you found your missing child? Would you be angered at your child for wondering off?

Well Mary was not only happy that she found her son, but she was also upset at her twelve year of boy.  This is totally understandable, isn’t?  So, she said to Jesus, according to verse forty-eight, “Son, why have you treated us so?” And, “Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”  From Mary and Joseph’s perspective, Jesus needed to start explaining why he stayed behind.  Remember, they traveled for three day so that they could find him.  Mary’s was basically saying, “How could you do this to us?” Or, “What were you thinking?”  She asserted an admission of guilt upon Jesus.

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