(Note: These out of the blue blog posts are for the purpose of providing devotions to our local Vacation Bible School leaders in an easy-to-reach transmission. Just didn’t want any of my people to fall out of their chairs with alarm at my resurfacing after 5 years of silence!)
Read Luke 2:41-52
Raise your hand if you like to wait.
In the first of our VBS’ passages, we recognize a theme of waiting not only in Jesus’ life but in those around Him.
Luke 2:41-52 describes Jesus’ possible inaugural trip to the Temple in Jerusalem with His family immersed in a massive caravan from His hometown of Nazareth. This was a remarkable annual pilgrimage for the Passover followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Jesus is 12 years old. He’s in preparation for the notable age of 13 when Jewish boys become responsible for their religious commitments, grow into full members of the religious community and observe religious ordinances personally. At the age of 12, Jewish boys began learning their father’s trade. They were entering more intensive training as preparation for their future. How interesting that it was at this age, the Messiah may have been formally introduced to His Father’s professional, public occupation.
Mary and Joseph would likely have been traveling according to custom with women in the front of the caravan and men in the back. Jesus’ absence on the return home would have been innocently unnoticed with one parent assuming He was with the other, or even both thinking He was with the children. Mary and Joseph, by all accounts, were attentive, loving and faithful parents.
We might wonder why they would have searched anywhere but the Temple for their Son, knowing He was a Divine Gift through their own first-hand experience with the virgin birth. Yet, 12 years had passed since that miraculous event. Do we not we struggle to wait mere seconds to warm food in a microwave? Imagine your pause button being jammed 12 years. Surely, time had blurred the excitement and anticipation. Jesus had, no doubt, been a faithful son yet also demonstrated nothing remarkably miraculous which would spur their methodical, parenting pace into a giddy-up gallop. We might imagine their devoted Jewish family trotting steadily along for these 12 years. Waiting but not idle.
Jesus is eventually found, and we gain a sense that He has a strong attraction to the Temple, the teachings, the learning and the absorbing of Truth. Picture Him, the Word, in the midst of the teachers and the pupils. We can imagine, since He was without sin, His attitude was of respect and sincere submission to the authorities. Once approached by His worried parents, His attitude was honorable and reverential to earthly authorities. In those days, of course a child would be in his father’s house. His response was neither snarky, sarcastic nor condescending. Where else would the Child be but in His Father’s house? Nevertheless, although now holding a captivation with the Temple, His position in life was still as a son to Mary and Joseph.
Jesus returned home with them and waited. He would wait 18 years before stepping into His Messianic role.
While Jesus waited, we picture Him growing into maturity. At some point, Joseph disappears from the story. Jesus, as the firstborn Son of the family, would take full responsibility for caring for His mother and siblings. Don’t let that panoramic portrayal slide absentmindedly from the canvas of your imagination. Jesus seems to have lost the “daddy” who’d attended to His needs, taught Him the Scriptures, and likely loved Him excessively. The grieving Jesus was by His mother’s side as she buried her husband and mourned. He loved and served and grew while He waited.
In today’s passage, we’re enlightened with an illustration of a faithful family and even a Perfect Savior slowly walking through a purposeful process. We sense order, submission, devotion and trust. The All-Knowing Father gently reveals a necessary gradualness of revelation to Mary and Joseph, and seemingly to the fully-human Jesus.
Bible scholar, Alfred Edersheim wrote, “[Mary] was learning to spell out the word Messiah, as each of these matters taught her one fresh letter in it, and she looked at them all in the Light of the Nazareth-Sun.”
PRAYER: Father, prompt us to slow our souls to enjoy the steady gait of Your pace, trusting You in the wait and deeply enjoying each experience as every fresh letter of Messiah is taught to us while walking in Your rhythmic stride.