This isn’t a scientific observation, of course, but I believe that the words uttered most in this past week as family and friends gathered to celebrate Christmas were something like “They grow up so fast!” Families seeing cousins they haven’t seen for at least a year, friends talking about their kids and grandkids, and people looking at family pictures on social media marvel at the growth of children they knew when they were born but now are having kids of their own. They grow up so fast! Perhaps we see more of the gradations in the growing up process now with all the pictures on social media, but even then, we turn around and the kids we know as infants are living out their careers in what seems to be the blink of an eye.
It would help us raise kids if we knew how Jesus acted as a boy, but, just as there are almost no references to the birth of Jesus in other New Testament records, there are no other references to his childhood than today’s passage in Luke 2 that I know of. We know about 3 instances in the early life of Jesus: He was circumcised, his earthly parents brought Him to the Temple for the purification service where He was blessed by both Simeon and Anna, and the time He amazed the teachers of the Law in the Temple. As nice as it would be to have more information, this is all we have. “When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” (Luke 2:48-51a NIV)
The first two instances don’t teach as much about Jesus as it does about the faithfulness of Joseph and Mary in obeying God. Simeone and Anna don’t say much to us about Jesus because we already know His story, but their proclamations may have had an impact on those who were in the Temple that day. The story of Jesus teaching in the Temple, though, shares some important insights into the nature of Jesus. First, He knew who He was. His Father was God, and so, when His parents left Him in the Temple, He felt at home. Second, He was raised in a loving extended family. Mary and Joseph weren’t so worried that they couldn’t see Him when they left Jerusalem because they were pretty sure that He was with someone in the group. Little did they know that He had gone into the Temple to teach those well versed in the Law. Finally, we see that He was obedient to His earthly parents. The next thing we rea about Jesus was His trip to the Jordan where He would once again invoke His obedience as He was baptized.
While we don’t know a lot about Jesus’ childhood, we know two things that are important: first, that Mary and Joseph were obedient to the Law, and second, that Jesus was obedient to His earthly parents. We learn from this that we are to be obedient to God as parents. Obedience may be a bit harder since we’re free from the Law. We must make an effort to seek God’s plan for our lives, instead of following a list of rules and regulation. We must be obedient to His leadership while recognizing we live under grace. We also have the responsibility of teaching our children how to seek out God for themselves and learning how to be obedient in the process. We have one other task as parents today, one that Mary and Joseph didn’t have to worry about with Jesus, we must be able to show God’s grace to our kids when they fail. Kids may not always be perfect, but they’ll always remember how we reacted when they weren’t. They grow up so fast, why spend that time doing anything other than loving them?
Lord, kids do grow up too fast. Help us as parents to learn how to be a parent from You – with grace.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.