Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 7-8-
(16) Jesus 12 Years Old Visits the Temple
(Deuteronomy 16:1-8)  Luke 2:41-50


Luke records one incident from the childhood of Jesus that took place when He was twelve years old.  It revolves around the annual celebration of Passover.  Israel was given three feasts, which all males were required to attend: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  The feast of Passover was a memorial to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and to their adoption as Jehovah’s nation.  Directions for how the Passover was to be celebrated is given in Deuteronomy.  “Observe the month Abib and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night.  Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for His name.”  (Deuteronomy 16:1-2)  The background of the Passover is found in Exodus 12.  The nation of Israel was living in slavery in Egypt.  Moses had been chosen by God, to confront Pharaoh and to lead Israel out of Egypt, to the land of God’s promise.  Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites, so God inflicted the Egyptians with plague after plague.  The final plague was successful.  Moses told the people of Israel to kill a lamb and to paint the doorposts of their homes with the lamb’s blood.  God sent an angel of death into Egypt to kill the first born of every family.  But the angel was not to enter any house that had blood on the doorposts.  Pharaoh’s son was killed that night, therefore he finally let God’s people leave.

God wanted His people to remember how He had delivered them, so He instituted the Passover feast.  “You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place He will choose as a dwelling for His name.  There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt.  Roast it and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose.  Then in the morning return to your tents.  For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work.”  Deuteronomy 16:5-8)

The feast of Passover was held in only one place; Jerusalem.  All males were to go to Jerusalem at that time.

Joseph was an Israelite and he kept the law, and Jesus did too.  Therefore, Luke gives us this incident from the “silent years” of Jesus’ life.

Every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.  When He was twelve years old, they went up to the feast, according to the custom.  After the feast was over, while His parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day.  Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him.  (Luke 2:41-45)

At twelve, Jesus would have been considered a man, and according to Jewish custom would have been through the ritual of manhood; bar mitzvah.  As such, He did not have to stay with His parents.  They traveled in groups of friends and family.  The roads were full and were buzzing with activity.  Mary and Joseph probably thought that Jesus was traveling with His friends or with other family members.  They may have been consumed with discussing the events of the Passover, and did not notice that Jesus was missing until the end of the day.  The custom was for men and women to travel in separate groups, and when they came together, Mary may have said to Joseph, “Have you seen Jesus?”  He could have replied, “No!  I thought that he was with you.”  I am sure they were worried and that they probably asked all their friends and relatives if they had seen Him.  Mary and Joseph continued to search for Jesus as they walked the road back to Jerusalem.  They finally found Him, after a three-day search. 

After three days they found Him in the temple courts, setting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone that heard him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.  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.  (Luke 2:46-50)

When Mary and Joseph finally found Him, I am sure that they were both relieved and upset with Him.  That would be the natural reaction to what they had been through.  When they questioned Him, He replies, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my fathers house?”  He was not in Joseph’s house, He was in God’s house.  I like how this is expressed in the King James Bible, “How is it that ye sought me?  Wist ye not that I must be about my fathers business?”  If Joseph had been His father, He would have been trying to line up some carpentry business, but what He was doing was talking with the teachers, asking them questions from the scriptures.  I believe that they were questions that they could not answer.  Also, they asked Jesus questions and they were amazed at His answers.  At this point, Mary and Joseph did not fully understand who He was and what His work entailed.  Mary would ponder these things in her heart.

Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.  But His mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.  (Luke 2:51-52)

I remember how difficult it was for me to obey my parents.  I believe that I did my best, however a firm hand “applied to the seat of knowledge” helped me along.  I doubt that Joseph ever corrected Jesus in this manner.  He was obedient to His parents and He grew in wisdom (mentally), in stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially).  In every area Jesus Christ was growing into perfect manhood.

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