The Scriptures are remarkably silent regarding the childhood experiences of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God provides little fodder for our deep-felt curiosity regarding family life in that village home in Nazareth. In fact, there is little reason to believe that home life in Joseph and Mary’s family was all that unusual or extraordinary. The Lord’s conception was supernatural and miraculous, but his childhood was, it would appear, quite unspectacular and relatively routine.
In Luke 2:41-52 we are, however, given a rare glimpse into one incident in the Lord’s earthly family, and there are several instructive lessons in the narrative for us to carefully consider.
The Cultivation of Good Family Habits
Joseph and Mary faced many of the same pressures we do in struggling to raise a young family. It hadn’t been an easy start for them in marriage and family life – in fact, even now, twelve years later, some people in the community still whispered snidely about the circumstances surrounding the birth of their firstborn. They faced the challenges of secular living, with Joseph working hard in the carpentry business to support his family, and Mary toiling constantly in the home, trudging through the incessant, unrelenting, repetitive tasks that any mother faces in the daily grind. They likely had a home not unlike many of ours where there was pressure, stress, sibling rivalry, and many other discouragements and distractions.
Luke is careful to point out for us, though, that in the midst of these pressures, Joseph and Mary had established spiritual priorities and cultivated structured habits for the spiritual welfare of their family. He says “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41). I’m sure there were times over those twelve years that circumstances really militated against their going up to Jerusalem. Children were possibly sick some years at Passover time. Other years, the carpentry business was maybe booming, with backlogs of work and production deadlines to meet. On other occasions, it was tempting to just take some quiet time with the family rather than make the long trek to Jerusalem for another repetitive feast. But the Holy Spirit carefully records that they went every year – not some years, not most years – every year! This was a home where the parents were united in their spiritual vision and their priorities for their home. Nothing would take precedence over being where the Lord’s presence was, and where the Lord’s people gathered.
How is it in your family life? Are meetings of the local assembly the top priority for you and your children? Are you and your family regular attendees at the Bible conferences in your area? Does all other family activity revolve around these non-negotiable anchor commitments? If someone were to provide a commentary on your family life could they truthfully say, “They’re always at the local assembly meetings” or, “That family reads and prays together every day”? Or is it sadly possible that secular demands, recreational activities, social ties, or educational pursuits have gained the upper hand in structuring our family lives, and spiritual activities are sporadic, inconsistent, and unimportant?
A habit is not something formed overnight – it represents a repetitive pattern of behavior that becomes so entrenched that it becomes almost involuntary. Habits play a large role in shaping values. Bad habits can be indescribably destructive – but good family habits can have a profound influence on shaping the perspectives, values, and priorities of the children we are raising in our homes. May we as parents learn this valuable lesson from the Lord’s earthly family, and structure our family lives around repetitive, committed, constructive spiritual activities. In so doing, we will be imparting invaluable lessons to the children we are raising for the Lord.
Dealing With Parents Who Just Don’t Understand
At times, one of the great frustrations you as a teenager face, as a child growing up in a Christian home, is that your parents just don’t seem to understand! There are situations where you know that you are right, but your parents “just don’t get it,” and insist that you follow their direction even when you are certain that you are right and they are wrong. What should you do?
The truth is that in many, many cases there is a strong likelihood that your parents may, in fact, have greater insight than you do, and they may actually be right – contrary to what you may feel. But notwithstanding that – this incident in the childhood of Jesus shows us a valuable lesson in how we must respond to our parents even when we don’t think they’re right. If ever there was a situation where a child knew more than his parents, this was it! Jesus knew that “He must be about His Father’s business” (v 49) and He was genuinely amazed that Joseph and Mary would have been searching for Him with such anguish (v 48). Yet knowing all of that, the narrative says, “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.”
His submission to His parents was not because they were right – it was because they were His parents. God’s standard requires that children obey their parents and respect their God-given authority, and the Lord Jesus in His perfect humanity perfectly fulfilled this righteous requirement.
Consider your attitude toward your parents and your interaction with them. When you submit to them (even when you’re convinced that you’re right and they’re wrong!) you’re actually submitting to the Lord and pleasing Him! When you are rebellious to them, you’re actually rebelling against God! It’s not a competition to see who’s right or wrong in a situation; it’s a divine principle of submission. However much you may think you know, remember that the Lord Jesus knew everything, and yet when it came to this situation with Joseph and Mary, His earthly mother and father, “He went with them” and “was subject to them.”