A key theme in the story of twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple is the theme of growth. The story is preceded and concluded with references to growth, both natural and spiritual. The child grew and became strong (v40), and he increased in stature (v52). Moreover, both verses highlight his growth in wisdom and favour with God. Throughout the chapter we see growth as the Messiah is referred to as: a baby (v16), a child (v40), a boy (v43), and as Jesus (v52). By the next chapter he is introduced to the world as the baptized Christ.
Growing up is hard. It is marked by discovering who we are (identity), finding our place in the world (purpose), choosing beliefs and values (meaning and morality), and setting goals and accepting their corresponding responsibilities (destiny). All of these “big questions” in life are fundamental to how we see and understand the world we live in, and the life we are to lead. Not only does growing up require the taking on of these daunting challenges, its very nature implies change (generally not easy for any of us). For instance, we move from the comforts of our family home to establish our own.
Something to Understand:
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34,35)” Growing up combines the actions of letting go and taking on. As Christians we call this discipleship. Jesus roots his “growing up” completely in the Father. To be “in my Father’s house” was not just a statement of proximity, it meant to be “about my Father’s business”. In Luke’s gospel the first and last words we have from Jesus pertain to the Father (see 2:49; 24:49). His intimate, yielded, relationship to the Father is the source and circumference of all his life and ministry. How about you? Have you left your “home” for the Father’s? Have you turned from false constructions of identity, purpose, meaning, and destiny to root all in Christ, the source of all godly growth?