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The Quiet Years


Luke 2:41-52 Princeton Christian Church 02 January 2022

We have very little information from the Bible about Jesus’ childhood and young adulthood. With the little bits we do have we can learn that Jesus was an example in the areas of respect for His parents, obeying God His Father, and continually growing spiritually.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the TV show of Art Linkletter. He included, in his show, a segment titled “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” Some of the things they said as Linkletter interviewed them were probably embarrassing to their parents. Kids say whatever happens to be in their head at the time.

As an example: A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. She tried to make the matter clearer when she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into my head, and I would turn red in the face. The class understood the explanation. She went further and asked: “Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn’t run into my feet?" One boy in the class answered: "Cause your feet ain’t empty."

On another day, it was school picture day, and the teacher was telling the class they could buy a copy of the picture. She said, “Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, ’There’s Jennifer, she’s a lawyer,’ or ’That’s Michael, He’s a doctor.’

And, as you know there is always that one kid who has to comment. This kid shouted out: “And there is the teacher: she’s dead!”

We never know what might come out of a kid’s mouth at any time.

The question today is about one particular child. Do you ever wonder what Jesus was like as a child?

The childhood of Jesus is sometimes referred to as “the hidden years” or the “years of silence.”

After the events of His birth, the Scriptures tell us very little about the life of Jesus as a boy, a teenager, or in His younger adulthood, before he began his ministry. And this lack of information causes us to wonder about that time.

What was Jesus like as a child? Did He travel with his parents to places besides Egypt? How old was he when his family returned to live in Nazareth? Did Jesus know He was God as a youth? Did He have miraculous powers and do miracles as a child?

There are so many questions that the Bible just doesn’t answer. We have to remember that the Bible wasn’t written to satisfy our curiosity and to answer all our questions. The Bible was written to tell us what we need to know to believe in and obey God.

But why is the Bible so silent about the childhood of Jesus? It could be that the Gospel writers wanted our eyes to be focused on the ministry and teaching of Jesus that he began around age 30. By the way, it is interesting that in the Jewish culture at the time, a man had to be 30 years old before he could be considered a wise, well-learned, mature rabbi worthy of respect.

Another possible reason for the lack of information about Jesus’ earlier life was that if we were told more details about Him, like how He dressed, what His favorite colors were, or His favorite activities and foods, then we would try to imitate Him in things that are unimportant. And that would take our attention away from the most important things about Jesus.

Jesus’ childhood was probably very normal. This is another reason that the Gospel writers had no reason to write about his childhood or adolescence.

Throughout history, people have been wondering if Jesus performed miracles as a child. The first recorded miracle of Jesus in the Bible is found in John 2 when He turned the water into wine. In the second century, there were some books written which contained fables about Jesus performing miracles when he was a boy.

These miracles included things like breathing life into clay birds He had made, and being able to speak as a newborn, and bringing down tables of food from heaven, raising a childhood friend from the dead. If Jesus really did these things as a child, then His fame would have spread long before the miracle at Cana.

Jesus must have been an exceptional boy and young man. Remember He was without sin in His life – from birth to crucifixion.

Prior to His ministry, He was probably well-liked in the community and in His family. Nevertheless, living with a sinless person must have had its challenges for His family. Imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus as your brother. Jesus was perfect, but His parents and siblings were not perfect. That could cause some conflict among the siblings. Especially when their mother, Mary might have asked them “Why can’t you be more like Jesus?”

Let’s look at Luke chapter 2 which is the only incident recorded in the Bible about Jesus’ childhood.

We learn from these verses that Joseph and Mary were very consistent in their obedience to God’s commands. Every year, Joseph and Mary would travel from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. We are told that Jesus was 12 years old and that He went with them.

Jesus was at the age that was an important transition point in the life of Jewish children.

The bar mitzvah took place the Saturday before a child’s 13th birthday. It represented the transition between childhood and adulthood. So as Jesus attended the Passover in His 12th year, He no doubt was preparing for His responsibilities as an adult Jewish male. He was preparing to take responsibility for his own obedience to the Law. He was coming out from under His parent’s faith and was ready to express a faith of His own.

Luke tells us what happened next: (Luke 2:43-45) “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. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.”

Try to picture the typical traveling practices of the time. People were not driving their own cars. They didn’t have reservations on a plane or train. Obviously, they would have noticed Jesus was missing if they were in their own car or if they were boarding an airplane or train.

As it was, thousands of people were leaving Jerusalem at the same time after the feast, and all of them were leaving in community and family groups. Some were on carts or donkeys, but most were on foot.

As the families traveled together in groups, the kids, just like kids today, would be walking together in different parts of the group. When the group stopped for the night, the parents would check on the kids. When Joseph and Mary did so that night, they discovered that Jesus was missing.

They probably looked at each other and said, “I thought Jesus was with you.” Some of us might have said that very thing to our spouse when we have seen a child was missing. This was a parent’s worst nightmare.

As parents, we all know the trauma of not being able to find our child at the park or the store. And even it if is only momentarily, you know the terrible feeling that comes over you. We panic, our heart beats rapidly, we frantically search, we call out their name. We are desperate to find that child. And then when we find them – do we punish them or hug them?

So, the Bible says that they began looking for Him among their friends and relatives, and then they retraced their steps to Jerusalem. Luke tells us: “After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers. 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.’ ‘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.” (Lk. 2:46-50)

Joseph and Mary found Jesus where they least expected Him, in the temple among the teachers. That is where all 12-year-old boys would be, right? No, they probably expected to find Him playing somewhere or maybe exploring the city of Jerusalem.

Everyone was amazed at the depth of His questions and answers, including His parents. But once they got over their amazement, they began to ask why He had stayed behind. Mary said, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Lk.2:48b)

Jesus’ answer to her I am sure was totally unexpected. His answer was respectful but puzzling. “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:49) Jesus was essentially saying, “Mother, based on your own experience and the confirmations given you, you have to know who I am and why I have come to earth.”

So, Jesus reminded His parents that He was first, and foremost, the Son of God and that He must carry out His “Father’s business.” His decision to stay behind was based on His faith and purpose.

All this was completely logical to Jesus, but Luke tells us that they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (Lk. 2:50) This once again shows us that as blessed as Mary and Joseph must have been, they were far from perfect.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Luke gives us all the information that we really need to know about Jesus’ childhood and young adulthood, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Lk. 2:51-52)

In verses 51-52, Luke summarizes the next 18 years. Mary added this experience to the list of things she had to ponder about her son. Jesus went home with them and was an obedient son.

In the process, He grew and matured in a perfect and well-rounded way – intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. These verses confirm the rather normal childhood and young adulthood of Jesus.

Although He could have used His status as the Son of God, Jesus did not draw attention to Himself while He grew and developed and awaited the ministry and sacrifice that lay ahead.

What can we learn from “The Quiet Years”?

First, there are a few interesting “firsts” and “lasts” that come from this episode.

1. It is the first and last, meaning the only, biblically recorded incident from Jesus’ youth.

2. In this account are the very first words of Jesus that are recorded in Scripture.

3. In this account is the last time Joseph is mentioned in the life of Jesus. (It is commonly felt that Joseph must have died sometime after this incident but before Jesus began His public ministry.)

We have the beautiful example of humble obedience and respect for our parents. We marvel at the fact that God became human, but not just human.

God became a child and then a teen who submitted himself to earthly parents. It may have been hard for you or me to submit ourselves to our parents because we thought we knew more or better than our parents, but think about Jesus. Jesus did know more and better than His earthly parents, yet he was obedient to them.

We also have the beautiful example of obedience and submission to God. For Jesus that meant that He should submit Himself to Mary and Joseph – that was God’s will. But when their earthly authority conflicted with God’s heavenly authority, then Jesus had to follow the absolute sovereign authority of God.

Most of the time we can submit to God’s authority and to earthly authority, whether it is our parents, teachers, or government, without there being a conflict.

But when following earthly authority would cause us to disobey God, then our allegiance to God supersedes our allegiance to people.

We need to occasionally do a check on ourselves to ask, “how am I doing in leading a life of obedience and submission to God?

Then we have the beautiful example of a commitment to spiritual growth. It seems evident to me that staying behind at the temple was one example of Jesus’ determination to grow. We don’t know all that Jesus did to contribute to His growth during the quiet years, but Luke tells us that He did grow – intellectually, spiritually, and socially.

So, if growing was so important to Jesus, shouldn’t it be important to us as well?

What are some of the means that God has provided for our growth?

The Scriptures are certainly essential to our growth, so we should allow nothing to keep us from them.

Edification (building up of one another) and instruction provided by others in the body of Christ is essential to our growth, and this requires regular attendance and participation with the church.

Prayer is another vital means of fellowship with God which leads to our growth.

Sharing the good news with others – this not only leads to their salvation, but also to our growth.

Finally, obedience to what we know to be the will of God is key to our further growth. Will we make a commitment to let nothing keep us from these vital means of spiritual growth?

This passage helps us put our faith in Jesus; to give us perspective and understanding of His life.

As we close, we need to look at Hebrews 5:8-9 which tells us: “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…”

Jesus is the source of eternal salvation. He is the only way to God and to heaven.

Will you put your faith in Him? Will you live a life of obedience to His teachings?

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