Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 6, 2015

Advent 2015 :: Jesus as a boy

I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to have Jesus as a schoolmate, teammate, or friend as a young boy.  You can certainly see Him being the fair one, the considerate one, the loyal one in a pack of friends.  You can see Him always coming right home when He’s called for dinner … but was He?

There is only one story told of Jesus as a boy.  It’s a story with which every parent can identify.  Many of us can relate to a moment where panic sets in over the suggestion of a lost child.  “I only turned around for a second!” … “I thought she was with you!” … “Ummm, where’s Mikey?”  That feeling is on the “Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare” Top 10 list.

The story begins as Mary, Joseph and Jesus make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover.  They stay for a full week and celebrate the sacred festival.  I can only imagine the sights and sounds of Jerusalem at Passover.  It must have been an amazing place to be as a twelve-year-old boy.  At the end of the festival, Jesus’ family begins their return home.  It appears from scripture that there is a whole host of family and friends who are traveling back to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph.  No doubt an easy setting in which the absence of a child could go unnoticed.  Verse 43 of Luke chapter 2 notes that Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, choosing to sit in the temple, listening intently to the teachers and asking questions.

As they neared the end of the first day’s journey, Mary and Joseph have some reason to take notice of their son.  Perhaps it was time to ready himself for bed or all sit together and enjoy a meal, but whatever the reason Jesus was nowhere to be found.  Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and after three days finally find Jesus in the temple.  They are understandably upset, and they question why Jesus has treated them this way.  How could their obedient and faithful boy have acted so recklessly?    “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you,” Mary says.  Take careful note of Jesus’ response:

 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus seems shocked that his parents didn’t immediately go to the temple upon returning to Jerusalem.  They wandered the city for three days.  How could they not have thought to look in the temple?  Mary and Joseph had angels visit them to announce God’s plan.  They knew who this Christ-child was.  Jesus seems to be asking, “Where else would I Am be?”  The answer seems so obvious.

The NIV has a footnote which offers an alternate translation of the last several words of Jesus’ second question.  It reads:

Or be about my Father’s business

It is in these words that I find the resounding declaration of this solitary story of Jesus as a boy.  It is a declaration to his parents and to anyone else who has ears to hear.  I Am is not like any other child.  I Am was not here to follow a path prescribed by anyone other than his Father.  Jesus was sent here by God for a singular purpose, and He would never allow anything to deter Him from fulfilling that purpose.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:38

Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?
Luke 2:49b

Our daily readings for the past several days were intentionally chosen.  They tell stories of the God-Man who was not here to follow any other path than the one God chose and authored for Him.  The God-Man who began His ministry by retreating to the desert to face intense temptation.  The God-Man who (with the absolute power to resurrect and heal) waited two days to go to a friend He deeply loved who was dying.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
John 11:5-6

Who does that?!

Jesus chose the desert and temptation.  He chose to wait until Lazarus had died to visit him.  He chose to stay behind, as a twelve-year-old boy, to sit under, listen and question the teachers in the temple.  He chose a brutal death and a very brief, but very real, separation from God.  All because He was here to do the will of the Father.  All because it was the only way to redeem us.  All because there was no one else who could pay the price for our sin.

So what does Jesus as a boy speak into our lives?  Why be reminded of His singular and uncompromising commitment to God’s purpose for His earthly life?  Because in everything Jesus did, He set a pattern for us to follow.  We have a kindred choice.  We can decide to live our earthly lives consumed with, and controlled by, the things and priorities of this world, or we can be always about our Father’s business.  We can choose the distractions and pleasures of the temporal, or we can completely sell out in the work of the kingdom.

In this season of Advent, may your life and walk be challenged by the truth of Jesus as a boy.  And may you run in the singular direction of His purpose for your life.


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