The Gospel of Luke

Coming of Age

This devotional is written by Luke Johnson. I love a good Christmas joke. What did Adam say the day before Christmas? "It's Christmas, Eve!" (written before Christmas, posted after Christmas)

Luke 2:41-52

The Boy Jesus at the Temple

41 Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 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."

49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father's house?" 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.


Today's passage has all the hallmarks of a coming of age drama. Our protagonist is a soon-to-be teenager (read adult in Jewish culture) who decides not to do what his parents want, and then greets them with apparent sarcasm when they eventually find him! "Why were you searching...Didn’t you know..."

On the surface we would assume this is Jesus' coming of age story, but it is actually Mary's. What is astounding, even from His first recorded words in the Bible, is that Jesus already very clearly knows who He is, and what that means for Him. Ironically it is his parents who don't understand, and have to learn what Jesus' identity means for them. Mary (who probably provides the account to the Gospel writers) treasures this encounter up in her heart as she pieces it together with what she heard from the angels 13 years prior.

Given Luke Chapter 2 covers events occurring 13 years apart one after another, Jesus' response to Mary is somewhat curt "Why are you searching...don’t you know..." as if she should remember the previous promises given to her like she had read them two minutes prior! It took a further 17 years until Mary saw the fulfilment of God's promises to her in Jesus. Christians "come of age" when they realise who Jesus really is and what that means for them. Often God speaks to us about our identity and our futures when we initially meet Jesus but sometimes God's promises take years to come to fruition for us, like they did for Mary. Jesus' point to Mary and to us is that once we've realised who He is, and therefore who we are made to be, why do we continue to doubt or question?

If you have unfulfilled promises from God today and are searching for answers, meditate on Jesus' question: "Why are you searching...don't you know..." 

No Comments