Family Life

This passage was never intended to be a morality tale to teach children how to behave. Nor was it a hand book for child raising. This Jesus whose parentage was unusual to say the least and the circumstances of whose birth was outside the ordinary, at least according to the Lukan birth narrative, is placed by this passage in a normal family. At twelve his mother and father, his parents, take him again to the Passover festival in Jerusalem. This was, according to the text ‘as usual’. When the family started for home the assumption was that he was among the families, friends and neighbors who were on the same pilgrimage, you know, it takes a village.  

 

 

Luke 2: 41 – 52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

This passage was never intended to be a morality tale to teach children how to behave. Nor was it a hand book for child raising. This Jesus whose parentage was unusual to say the least and the circumstances of whose birth was outside the ordinary, at least according to the Lukan birth narrative, is placed by this passage in a normal family. At twelve his mother and father, his parents, take him again to the Passover festival in Jerusalem. This was, according to the text ‘as usual’. When the family started for home the assumption was that he was among the families, friends and neighbors who were on the same pilgrimage, you know, it takes a village. But a day out from Jerusalem he hadn’t checked in. What occurred was what any family would do – check with all the usual friends and families. Not finding him there, they back tracked to Jerusalem to continue their search.

Do you think Jesus was lost? Not from his perspective. When we’ve been in shopping malls or big stores and witness the trauma of a youngster in tears I generally don’t think of the child as being lost but rather the parent who was so lost in their own pursuits that the welfare of their child has been forgotten. Could it be that we are so comfortable going the way of everyone else that we forget to be about God’s business.

The story presents Jesus as a model young person, politely asking questions and listening – not lecturing the temple teachers as some apocryphal texts suggest. And it says he was very well received, to the point of amazement at his understanding. And evidently the teachers, in good form, asked good questions of him. When his relieved and still anxious parents finally discovered his whereabouts, his answer to them that he should be in my “Father’s house” and about my “Father’s business” created additional confusion. But what a challenge lay in his words for us. Is that to which God has called us of a high enough priority?

Our only little story of the middle years of Jesus growing up raises a challenge for us. And I’d like you to consider it and then respond. Why is it that our witness seems to lose human (and maybe divine) favor in today’s world? Is it because of the so called culture wars? Is it due to Biblical interpretation of homosexuality, the role of women in the church, issues raised by both pro and con abortion statements, implications of domestic partnership commitments and worship wars? What might we need to enjoy “divine and human favor?” Is the Kingdom of God “losing” and “declining?” Have we lost it? Are we anxious like Jesus’ parents because of uninformed, prejudicial, and/or legalistic attachments (under the Law) to Scripture quotations rather than “family response-ability” to the business of Jesus’ Father who would have none be “lost?” What will you do and be as son and daughter of the Father in his house and business?

 

 

 

 

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