Did You Know? — The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9
• Luke is the only Gospel to include a story from Jesus’ childhood.
• This story is a transition from the birth of Jesus to the ministry of Jesus.
• In the King James Version of The Bible, Jesus talks about “his Father’s business” not his “Father’s house.” (v. 49)
The Gospel of Luke 2:41-52 (New Revised Standard Version)
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended, and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming 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. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents[a] 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.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years,[c] and in divine and human favor.
Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading
Gospel of Luke 2: 41-52 (New Revised Standard Version)
When my children were little, they delighted in hiding from me. When my two toddlers hid in a clothing rack in a city department store, their frantic parents were relieved to hear their laughter coming from within the hangers and clothing.
Another time, my eldest, only six, fell asleep in her closet. We searched the neighborhood only to discover her sleeping peacefully on her favorite quilt surrounded by her stuffed animals.
What makes sense to children doesn’t always work for their parents. In the two situations I mentioned, the girls couldn’t understand why we were so upset. Their behavior made perfect sense to them.
Such is the case with the 12-year-old Jesus. Jewish tradition recognized males as adults at 13. Jesus was still technically a child when he stayed at the Temple not asking his parents’ permission to remain as the family traveled home after the Passover pilgrimage.
According to the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, these verses contain a hidden gem in translation. While the NRSV translates the famous verse 2: 49 as “in my Father’s house,” the KJV refers to his “Father’s business.”
In both versions, the pre-teen Jesus seems surprised that his parents don’t understand that he would be in his Father’s house or doing his Father’s business. This is a moment indicating Jesus is leaving childhood and moving toward ministry. He is thinking for himself, developing his identity and aligning with his divine Father.
While the parents search frantically, their son is finding his true self. This week, the Gospel invites us to consider what each of us is searching for in the New Year. Are we drawing closer to God? How do we identify as followers of Christ when it is clear who he follows?
Grace and Peace,