Jesus in the Temple at Age 12
(Luke 2:41-52 )

  "Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, in wisdom, power and love, Our God is an awesome God!"

Father God we rejoice in You today and praise You for all your goodness to mankind. We see Your wisdom and glory as our creator, and we stand in awe of You. We are thankful for your many blessings and pray that you will help us focus on them, and not the minor problems that the devil tries to magnify to us. Jesus, we adore and worship you, and praise you for your sacrifice for us. We look to you for salvation, healing and deliverance. Holy Spirit we praise you that you have convicted us of sin and brought us into the Kingdom of God. Instruct us tonight we pray. Open our hearts and teach us more about God.

satan we bind you and rebuke you and command you OUT of this holy place. We come against your devices and schemes to deceive distort and sow discord, and we declare them null and void in Jesus name.

We declare that no weapon formed against us shall prosper and that we are victorious in Jesus name! Greater is HE that is within us than he that is in the world. Praise be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus! For I am persuaded that neither death or life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord! Hallelujah!

Last time we were talking about Jesus being presented at the temple and how He fulfilled the Old Testament law perfectly. We also talked about how that Simeon and Anna prophesied over the baby and declared Him to be the promised Messiah and light to the Gentiles (that's us). We also talked about why God sent His Son as a tiny baby who had to grow up just like we do, and suffered just like we do. One reason that Jesus shared our humanity is because through His death He will destroy the works of the devil.

Another reason is so that we could KNOW that He is able to sympathize with our infirmities, illnesses, problems and struggles. Now God can do that anyway of course, but since Jesus took on human flesh, He made it very plain that He lived like we did.

don - ot...God truly made a sacrifice in doing this...this shows the extent of His love

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Since Jesus was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, when he died he bought us back from the devil, and because Jesus is victorious over satan by His resurrection, we are too! Until we come to Jesus, we are held in slavery by our fear of death! But since Jesus now holds the keys of death and hell, we need not fear it, and we are delivered from bondage to fear.

As we said last week, not a lot is revealed about Jesus' childhood. Tonight we are going to start where we left off, and look at Jesus at age 12.

Luke 2:41-42 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.

Now Jerusalem was where the Temple of God was, and this is where sacrifices were made to atone for or cover over the people's sins. "The Law required every Jewish man to attend three great national feasts: Passover; Pentecost and Tabernacles. Passover was the feast that celebrated the Exodus, when Moses led God's people out of Egypt. Jesus fulfilled this festival when He died on the cross and became our Passover lamb sacrificed for our sins.

Z - Blessed be the holy Lamb!

Pentecost, is also called the Feast of the Harvest, was celebrated 50 days after Passover, and was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and the Church was born. Tabernacles, or Booths, also called Feast of Ingathering, was celebrated for the latter harvest, and WILL BE FULFILLED when Christ comes again and gathers us to himself. Hallelujah! So as a devout Jew, Jesus celebrated these feasts as commanded and not only celebrated them, but WILL FULFILL them!

Emma† - Praise The Lord!

Z - Alleluia!

Passover was known above all as THE feast. Over two million people crowded Jerusalem to celebrate it each year. "The travelers customarily took the longer road; crossing to the east side of the Jordan, to avoid Samaria. For the boy Jesus it would be a pleasant trip in a caravan with other families from Nazareth

Exodus 23:14-17 "Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Passover]; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. "No one is to appear before me empty-handed. "Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field. [Pentecost] "Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. [Tabernacles] "Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.

We DO celebrate Passover - some call it Easter. We DO celebrate Pentecost - most Churches have a special service on Pentecost Sunday. But most do not celebrate Tabernacles. But we WILL celebrate Tabernacles when we are gathered up in the air - the Rapture! Glory! It sends chills up my spine. Praise you Jesus! ARE YOU READY TO FLY??????????

His too (again!) - Praise the Lord. I feel an anointing in here.

tally7 - Yes, Yes I am ready to fly

Can anyone tell me what a caravan is and why Jesus family traveled with


aquarius - isn't it when a bunch of people travel togaetheer

monkey - isn't it kinda like a wagon train...*S* where all kinds of families travel together....????

Travel in Biblical Times was extremely dangerous for many reasons. There were robbers that preyed on lonely travelers (remember the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a robbery victim?), there were animals that preyed on travelers, and traveling conditions were unsafe - with heat, lack of places to stay and so forth. So people traveled in caravan - yes, like a wagon train - for protection and companionship. So Jesus and his family traveled from their hometown of Nazareth to Jerusalem by the long way to avoid Samaria. Does anyone know why they wanted to miss Samaria?

The Jews hated the Samaritans because the Samaritans had erected their own temple and claimed to be the only true Children of God. Kind of sounds like today, doesn't it? We have "CHRISTIAN" groups that hate each other and say that only THEY are right. So the Jews avoided Samaria at all costs.

His too (again!) - but where does it say they went out of their way to miss Samaria?

Shimmer - Christian pitted against Christian is a division that could cost the Church!

His too, it doesn't say it in this passage, but you remember when Jesus talked to the woman at the well? He said I MUST go through Samaria, and his disciples were upset with that (John 4). It was customary for Jews NOT to go through Samaria. That's why when Jesus talked about the Good Samaritan a lot of people were offended.

From time to time the pilgrims would break out into song, chanting some of the pilgrim songs (especially Psalms 120-134) Then, as they came through the Kidron Valley and tip the Temple hill they would chant Psalm 24, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart " Jesus was the first one to enter the Temple who could really fulfill this verse.

Then as they approached the Temple gates they would continue the same psaIm, "Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." Pilgrims would still be singing this same psalm in expectation of the King of glory when, 21 years later, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the lowly King, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Luke 2:43-44 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.

During this particular journey to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus was 12. "It was customary for large groups of pilgrims to travel together for safety. The women would go on ahead with the younger children, and the men would follow in another group. As Joseph and Mary returned from the feast in Jerusalem; Joseph probably assumed that Jesus was with Mary and the children, and Mary assumed that Jesus, now twelve and a man, was with Joseph."

"They . . . went a day's journey": does not mean they traveled an entire day before they missed the lad. An ordinary "day's journey" varied from 18-30 miles. But when a party started on a journey, the first day's journey was invariably shorter than the usual distance. This is a very ancient custom and is still practiced.

Shimmer - I always wondered how they could have missed him! thanks for that info!

When everything is ready for the caravan to move, they slowly march on, but halt for the first night at a distance of from three to eight miles from the place of starting. The reason assigned for this is that if anything has been left behind through mistake or forgetfulness, some one may easily return and get it in time to join the caravan the next day.

I can appreciate this. It seems that I ALWAYS forget something important when I pack for a trip! They must have had some oldtimers back then too!

So Mary and Joseph made the short journey of the first day, traveling only a few hours, then halted for the night. The first stopping-place for nearly all traveling parties who now leave Jerusalem for the north is el-Bireh, supposed to be the ancient Beer or Beeroth. It is 8-10 miles from the city; a three hours' journey. There is a tradition that this is where Mary and Joseph halted and missed Jesus when the family gathered together.

Even today in Judaism, a boy becomes a man at 12 and goes through a ceremony called Bar Mitzvoth, which means "Son of the Commandment", where he officially becomes a man in God's sight, and responsible to fulfill the law himself. Girls today have Bas Mitzvoth, which means "Daughter of the Commandment". That's why a lot of Churches consider 12 to be the "age of accountability" when one is responsible to God for their own soul.

Luke 2:45-46 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Why do you think Jesus stayed behind? Was He being disobedient to his parents?

Z - I think He was engrossed in hearing an learning in the temple

Emma† - no, He was fulfilling God's plan and obeying God

His too (again!) - No, it was God's plan.

Shimmer - OT-do you think he stayed behind because he wasn't aware they were leaving?? I mean, sometimes we get caught up in stuff!

Glory! - He was doing his father's business

He certainly must have been told by Mary that He was a special child, destined to be Israel's Messiah. She may have even sang her song to Him when He was a child. We really don't know how aware He was of His specific mission at this time. But perhaps He felt that, like Samuel, He was to be given to God for Temple service at a young age. This is just speculation, but He felt that " . . it is necessary (as a duty) for Me to be in My Father's house and [occupied] about my Father's business" (v. 49).

casper - Mary grounded him for the next 20 years

His too (again!) - But when did God tell him this?

don - this was the beginning of His training

His too, we aren't really told WHEN, but certainly by this time He had an understanding of a higher calling on his life.

Mary and Joseph searched everywhere else first, before they came to the Temple. Knowing what a special child Jesus was, why do you think this was the LAST place they searched for Him?

Shimmer - OT-it's like searching something's ALWAYS found in the very last place you look!! *smile*

Emma† - maybe because they were thinking of him as a typical boy? who would be running around playing instead of in the temple.

Shimmer - seriously, perhaps although aware of His higher calling, the timing was theirs, not God's?

The Bible doesn't say, but I think that they just could not comprehend why Jesus felt He had to be in MY Father's House (this is the familiar address - like "My daddy's house").

Luke 2:44-46 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. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

First they looked in the caravan among their relatives and friends. He was not there. Then they went back to Jerusalem and searched for THREE days! They must have been frantic by then.

Shimmer - after THREE days???

aquarius - a 12 year old listening to preaching for 3 days wow

His too (again!) - Just think, He already knew the answers to those questions>

Glory! - No, Jesus was not playing but they expected him to be playing

As a mom, I can imagine what must have been going on in Mary's mind. What if He got hurt? What if He got killed? What if He was kidnapped and sold into slavery?

Shimmer - talk about an anointing; who fed Him? where did He sleep??

aquarius - after three days I think a normal 12 year old would be frantic too

prodigal son - I wonder what questions He was asking?

Three days they looked high and low, street after street, in the market place, out in the fields, asking, searching, looking. Must have been in a panic. They found Jesus sitting among the teachers (doctors) in the Temple courts. (one of the courts, side rooms or porticoes attached to the Temple). During the Passover, it was customary for each of the great rabbis (teachers) to gather a little group around him and proceed with lecture and discussion, questioning the people and answering their questions. Jesus took the humble place of a student sitting at their feet, listening to them and asking them questions.

Luke 2:47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Emma† - Maybe Mary wasn't ready to accept the fact that it was time for Him to start fulfilling scripture.

aquarius - so he humbly sat as a student but really taught

casper - spirit was his food

aquarius - goes to show you to be a teacher and a leader we must be willing to learn ourselves and be humble

The way that rabbis taught was usually through question and answer. We see Jesus using this technique with this disciples. For example, once He asked them, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Their answers showed their knowledge (or lack of it).

Jesus said that whoever wants to rule must first serve, as He did. Again and again the teachers were astonished (amazed) at His understanding (intelligence, practical discernment; grasp and comprehension of the subject.).

What was the secret of Jesus great wisdom at age 12? Is this understanding available to us?

Psalms 119:97-104 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Do you want to be smarter than your teachers? *S* meditate on God's word! Do you want to have more understanding than the elders? Obey the Lord!

tally7 - Isn't it so awesome when we meditate on his word!

This was Jesus secret of wisdom and it is available to all of us.

Paul wrote to Timothy about "how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus". (2 Timothy 3:15) The scriptures made Timothy wise and led him to Christ. Do you believe that they will do the same for you? The Bible is a rare and unique book which imparts treasures of wisdom, and you do not have to have a college degree to be able to find the precious gems of insight and knowledge.

Now there are some people who read the Bible and don't understand it or mis-apply it. Why? They are not led by the Spirit of God. So these two things - the Word and the Spirit guided Jesus into wisdom and knowledge, and will do the same thing for us!

tally7 - You only need to hunger and thirst

It says hate every wrong PATH - the old saying, we hate the sin, but love the sinner. This refers to paths WE might take, we hate or avoid the wrong ones. Even thought those with "critical spirits" might be walking on the "right" path, they are not walking in LOVE. We are to be IN the world, not OF the world, shining as lights in darkness.

Luke 2:48 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."

tally7 - Just a thought..we should not feel bad because we are infants in his word but we should just desire to grow daily

casper - faith and hope will go away but love last forever

His too (again!) - like I said, too much judgement in those attitudes to be right.

Luke 2:48 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." Mary rebuked Jesus for His actions because of her motherly concern and anxiety.

Luke 2:49-50 "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.

There was a conflict here, because Mary was seeing him still as a child, and Jesus was obeying his calling. They didn't understand each other.

Shimmer - OT-sounds like the typical "generation gap" thing we all experience at the turning point of our kids' change from child to adult...

Now many teens (or pre-teens) would use this as an excuse to rebel and do their own thing. After all, Jesus was listening to God, wasn't he? Jesus seemed surprised over their anxiety and the fact that they did not look for Him first in the Temple. He felt that they should have known that His concern over His Father's business would draw Him there. There was; in fact; a divine compulsion upon Him, a necessity, a burning passion which finally took Him to the cross. The same necessity is mentioned about thirty times in the NT in relation to His mission, work, sufferings, death, sovereignty, and final victory. But Mary and Joseph did not understand it, nor did they yet comprehend the full meaning of the overwhelming truth of the divine Sonship of Jesus.

Remember that Jesus was tempted in all points just like us. There must have been a temptation here to rebel, after all He WAS the Son of God! Shouldn't he know better than his parents what He should do????? What was Jesus response? Did he rebel and tell them HE was right?

Luke 2:51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

So how did the Son of God handle the age old "generation gap" - he submitted to his parents authority. Isn't this amazing? He was the Son of God but he obeyed his parents! Nevertheless; He went down with them and was [habitually] obedient to them, and stayed out of the limelight, so to speak, until He was about 30.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Red Farmer - That could be an example to some of the youth of today, huh OT?

Z - to all of us, red farmer!! Respecting authority..whether it be our parents..or bosses!!

The most notable thing about Jesus as a teenager was the perfect respect and obedience that He gave His mother and Joseph. He was subject to them (v. 51-52), continuing to be submissive and obedient, voluntarily yielding to them in love.

There was no rebellion against the authority of the home where God had placed Him. Son of God though Jesus was, He claimed no exemptions from any of the responsibilities obligations and burdens of human life. Note also that in the childhood of the human race, man (Adam) failed at the point of obedience. Jesus did not fail.

For about 18 years in a small town in an insignificant country, the Son of God, Jesus, toiled in the carpenter's shop, probably being the sole support of His family after Joseph died, since He was the eldest Son. But He was content to wait on God's timing.

Remember that Jesus knows what waiting is. Do you get impatient with God's timetable in your life? Do you feel yourself chafing under the burdens of everyday life; feeling forgotten; unimportant, left out? In GOD'S time, you will be noticed. In GOD's time, you will come into your ministry. Just be content where God has placed you now, serve Him, learn His Word, be faithful in the little things, and in due time, He will exalt you and make you ruler over many.

Mary and Joseph had seen some exciting things from the time of Jesus' birth announcement by Gabriel to the visit of the Magi; but apparently after that, things quieted down. Mary and Joseph had a family, and life went on its daily rounds in the carpenter shop.

Matthew 13:55-56 "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"

As we have seen, they were amazed when Jesus stayed behind in the Temple. Apparently they had "forgotten" what Jesus' mission was to be . How about you? Can you remember a time when you were excited about what God was doing in your life; about promises or prophecies you believed He had given you? But since the excitement has quieted down, have you forgotten them?

Don't let the cycle of day-to-day life dull your enthusiasm for Christ! He has not forgotten you, nor has He forgotten His purposes for you. In His time, He will honor your patience and obedience, and will perfect His purposes for you.

It amazes me every time I think about the Son of God willingly being obedient to earthly parents! There is no evidence that He fretted or chafed under their nurturing. Obedience and submission to authority is one of our hardest lessons to learn, isn't it? And it is my feeling that the majority of the problems in the church world arise because people do not want to submit to each other and to the pastor.

tally7 - Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,....

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Our Lord is our example and we should follow Him. 1 Peter 2:21 says: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." There is a neat Christian classic called "In His Steps" (can't remember the author) where a pastor literally tried to do what Jesus said, as in inviting the poor to a banquet.

Red Farmer - OT, question: what do we do if they ever tell us to do something we know God would not like, such as lie?

The bible says (6:1) Children obey your parents IN THE LORD for this is right. If they ask you to do something against God's word, maintain your respect for them, don't "cop an attitude", but you are not required to obey them in sin. The point is not who "right" in parent/child relationships, but for the child to be respectful. ATTITUDE is key.

aquarius - when Mary pondered them in her heart does it mean she took pride in it or was proud of Jesus

I believe Mary was too humble to be proud like that, I believe that it means she thought about them, remembered them, and tried to understand them. LATER, when Jesus had died and Luke interviewed her for his book, she told him things he could have heard from no one else, out of the treasures of her heart.

Philippians 2:3-8 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

Our attitude, whether we are old or young, should be like that of Jesus. He did not act out of ambition -striving to BE better than others - or conceit - thinking that He WAS better than others, but in His humility (the Son of God!) He considered the needs of others before His own.

He did not hold on to his equality with God, He did not exalt himself because of it, but took on the form of a servant and was obedient, even to death. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us strive to have the same attitude that Jesus had - of humility, obedience and submission - so that God will be well pleased with us!

Meanwhile, there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned "in the Carpenter's Shop". If Jesus had to learn submission and obedience in the everyday grind, what about you?

Hebrews 5:7-9 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

If your prayers aren't being answered, do you have the same attitude of "reverent submission" that Jesus had? Are you chafing under some discipline right now? Remember God disciplines those He loves for your good.

Father God thank you for your Word that has gone out tonight. Let us follow in Jesus steps. Let us be obedient and humble to you, and to think of others as Jesus did. Let Jesus be an example to all of us of "reverent submission", and let us humble ourselves under your mighty hand, that you might exalt us in due time.

Z - yes Lord, may our hearts be pure and humble before You

Blessed Comforter, Holy Spirit, water the seeds implanted tonight and let them grow into good deeds and your fruit we pray. IN Jesus Name AMEN!

Lord, thank You for all those gathered here tonight. Thank You for Your Holy Word and the understanding You give us as we study. Bless each one this week, blessed Father. In the name of Jesus. AMEN May the blessings of our Father, the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit reign in your hearts! AMEN

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice!

Return to Luke Homepage

*Picture Sources:

Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Handbook. Revised by Gary N Larson. Moody Press, Chicago, 1966: 1984.

The Family Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. by Pat Alexander.  Chancelor Press, London, 1988.

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Original Lesson 7/20/98
Revised: May 02, 2001.