As we have watch our grand children grow it’s been fun to see them go from laying down to rolling over, then pulling themselves up on things and beginning to move around the room holding on to one thing then another. Then comes the monumental day when they venture out and take that first step! It’s always so exciting.
Mary and Joseph would have watched Jesus learn all those same things. Imagine being the one to teach the God of the universe, the creator of the stars, to walk, talk and go potty on his own!
As a parent, during those formative years, I never pictured what I was doing as preparation for them to leave the home and to be on their own! I think I was just trying to survive and train them to become Godly kids. But, that thought makes me wonder how the parents of the Son of God felt. Talk about feeling inadequate!
The Passage: Luke 2:40-50
As Luke continues to build his picture of Jesus in his humanity, he alone describes Jesus’ human development. Jesus grew just like any other child. He had to learn to hold his head up as a baby. He had to learn how to roll over. He learned to walk. He learned to talk as he listened to his mom and dad and others. His parents even had to teach him to go potty on his own. The sovereign creator of the universe, as a human, had to be potty trained!
As Jesus grew, being a good Jewish father (well, step-father in Jesus’ case) Joseph would have taken Jesus under his wing and began to teach him the family trade. Joseph was a carpenter, so naturally Jesus became Joseph’s little apprentice. For most Jewish boys, their apprenticeship became official at age 12, in preparation for “becoming a man” which would become official at their Bar Mitzvah when they turned 13.
Being devout Jews, year after year, Mary and Joseph made the journey to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, as was commanded in the Mosaic Law (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:1-8). Under rabbinic law, only the adult males were required to go, but Mary applied the Mosaic Law to herself. And when Yeshua was twelve years old, His parents took Him with them (Lk. 2:42)
It was a wonderful week celebrating the Passover together. Jesus was almost a man now. So Joseph enjoyed having Jesus participate with him in offering the sacrifice and performing the ceremonies of the Passover. “From now on, you will need to do this for yourself” Joseph instructed Jesus.
While Mary missed having Jesus with her as she spent time with the other women, she was proud he would soon become became a “son of the law” and be responsible before the law for Himself.
As the events of the Passover wrapped up, Mary and Joseph began the journey back to Nazareth. The men traveling in one group and the women in another. Each parent assumed that Jesus was with the other. Joseph saw Jesus as still in the role of a child traveling with the women; and Mary assumed that Jesus, as a “son of the law,” had left the group of women and small children and was with the men. When they arrived at the appointed meeting place for the evening, they discovered that Jesus was not in the caravan! Can you imagine the conversation Mary and Joseph would have had when they discovered Jesus was missing? “We have lost the Son of God!”
After 3 days of searching, in desperation, as a last resort, Mary and Joseph go to the temple, not in search for Jesus, but to pray. As they enter the temple courtyard they see a circle of teachers huddled in a circle all talking intently with someone. A closer look revealed Jesus in the middle of them. He was the one they are discussing with.
Ken Gire described the scene so well, “Mary runs to him, a rush of relief and anger welling up within her. “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus looks at her in a way he’s never looked at her before. “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus was truly ready to make his apprenticeship under His Father official. Not his earthly step father, but His real Father! But, it wasn’t the time. So he returned to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph to wait until His time had come. (Luke 2:51-52)
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
If Mary and Joseph hadn’t considered their time with Jesus as preparation for his future ministry before, this situation certainly would have reminded them! Now, more than ever, I wonder if Joseph felt inadequate. On the one hand he may have felt intense pride in seeing “his son” debating the theologians of the day. But, then to realize, the immensity of the task of raising, teaching and training the Messiah to prepare him to become Israel’s teacher! I can’t imagine. As a good Jewish father, Joseph would have wanted to be instructing his family in the law of Moses and all the Old Testament scriptures. But, with Jesus, I am sure he would have had thoughts of inadequacy, “How can I teach the Son of God anything?” But that’s the role God gave Him! And Joseph was going to need help from Jesus’ real father to do it!
It reminds me of something i read in “The Indwelling Life of Christ” the other day. “Human beings are uniquely made with the capacity to be governed by God Himself dwelling within the human spirit in intimate identity with the human soul, so that God, within the human spirit, gains access to the human soul…. in this way according to His intended design and purpose, He governs our behavior, so that He in us is the origin of His own image, source of His own activity, dynamic of His own demands, and cause of His own effect.
God has created us to be functional only by virtue of His presence, exercising His divine sovereignty within our humanity so that out of our love for Him, we live in utter dependence upon Him. Moreover, the only evidence any of us can give of such dependence on Him is our unquestioning obedience to Him.
Joseph may have felt inadequate and overwhelmed when he really stopped to think about the task he had been given. But, it would have thrown him back on his heavenly Father. Joseph could find rest in Jesus’ real father, knowing that God alone is the source of His own image and the source of His own activity. Joseph was only God’s instrument in raising God’s own Son!
- What can I learn from this?
- What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
What do you feel inadequate for? What task has God given to you that feels overwhelming? For me, training people to do something i have never done myself is overwhelming. But, what God is saying to me from this passage is that He wants to be the source of that activity! He wants to be the source of His image being displayed. His image needs a carrier, an instrument that man can see! That instrument is me. You are His instrument to display his image and to carry out His activity!
It seems like there could have been other ways for God to bring His Son into the world, and raise Him up to be the Messiah for His people. But, he chose to use Mary and Joseph, in all of their inadequacy so that the power of God would be seen!
Later in “The Indwelling Life of Christ” Ian Thomas says, “A moment comes in the life of every child of God when God’s purpose for your life hangs delicately in the balance. Fulfillment will come only with the realization that you do not have in yourself what it takes. Death to all that you are in your own inadequacy is the only gateway through which you may enter into the fullness of all that Christ is, so that you may live miraculously in the power of His resurrection, crying out from the heart, “Lord Jesus, I cannot—but You can, and that is all I need to know. Let’s go!”
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
What do I need to declare to myself, what steps do I need to make, in order to implement and integrate what God is telling me?
- Every time I feel inadequate, help me to picture Joseph. Help me to remember you chose a man to raise your son! Because he was inadequate you were able to use him to be the source of your activity! Because he was inadequate, your glory was clearly displayed through his life!
- Help me today to remember that I am only functional when you are exercising your divine sovereignty within my humanity. Help me, out of love for you, to live in utter dependence upon you in everything, especially these tasks I feel inadequate for.
- Today I choose to live miraculously in the power of His resurrection, crying out from my heart, “Lord Jesus, I cannot—but You can, and that is all I need to know. Let’s go!”