At the Temple: About His Father’s Business
Jesus among the Doctors by James Tissot, ca. 1890.
“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).
What was Jesus like as a boy?
This paragraph offers us the only glimpse we have into Jesus’ childhood. The biblical record moves from his infancy to the beginning of his public ministry at the age of 30 with only this episode in between. While there are many things we would like to know about Jesus as a young boy and as a teenager, this is all we are given.
It’s fairly easy to imagine that a child might disappear for a few hours in the great crowd of family and friends making the long journey from Jerusalem to Nazareth, only to reappear at supper time. That part of the story is understandable. It’s also conceivable that a mischievous boy would hide or even run away.
But that’s not what Jesus did. He stayed behind in Jerusalem to discuss weighty matters with the “doctors of the law.” They were the scribes and priests who spent a lifetime studying the written law and the oral commentary.
Jesus’ reply to his worried mother reminds us about the higher priorities of life: “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). We aren’t surprised when the next verse tells us they didn’t understand what he was saying.
It was a solemn reminder that even as a young boy Jesus was conscious of God’s divine call on his life. At this point, we do not need to inquire into how much Jesus understood about his future destiny. On the divine side, he certainly knew all things. On the human side, he grew in knowledge as he grew up. Even at the age of twelve, he knew he was not like other boys. He was called to his “Father’s business,” and that must be attended to, even if his parents did not understand.
We also must be about our Father’s business. Here is a good question we should ask ourselves: “Am I busy doing my Father’s business? Am I walking in the steps of Jesus?” As J. C. Ryle says, “Never is a church in so healthy a condition as when its believing members aim high, and strive in all things to be like Christ.”
Lord Jesus, help me to follow your example by doing my Father’s business today. Amen.