Truth Quest Update: Jesus at the Temple
The Book of Luke records just two narratives about Jesus’ childhood: His dedication (Luke 2:21-40) and His time at the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). Both stories set the stage for Jesus’ ministry on earth as an adult. Today, our Bible story is about Jesus’ trip to the temple as a 12-year-old.
Mary and Joseph were faithful Jews. They had dedicated the baby Jesus according to the law of Moses, and they traveled to Jerusalem each year to celebrate Passover. God had commanded the men to appear before Him three times a year to observe certain festivals. (See Deut. 16:16.) Once a year, those who followed God’s law would travel to Jerusalem, often in large groups.
In Bible times, a Jewish boy became a man around age 12. His father would train him to take on all the responsibilities of adulthood, social and spiritual. Joseph was a carpenter, and he likely trained Jesus in his trade. When Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem, Joseph might have taken Jesus around the city to teach Him the significance of the temple and explain the purpose of the Passover feast.
Jesus’ parents started the journey back home after the feast. They assumed Jesus was among their traveling companions, but He wasn’t. Jesus had stayed behind at the temple. Mary and Joseph traveled for a day before they noticed Jesus was missing. They went back to Jerusalem and found Him at the temple. Mary—a frantic mother—asked her preteen son why He would treat them that way. Didn’t Jesus know they were worried sick?
Jesus answered Mary’s question with a question: “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Mary and Joseph did not understand Jesus’ answer. In all this, Jesus did not sin. Jesus went to the temple to worship. He is God’s Son, and He came to do God’s work. Jesus taught people, suffered, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead so that we too can worship God.