Jesus in the Temple

Grew up in Nazareth

The Bible tells us about Jesus’ miraculous conception and his birth in Bethlehem. We’re told that afterward, because of threats to Jesus’ life, Mary and Joseph had to take Jesus to Egypt for a time, then later the family returned to the land of Israel. (See Matthew 2.) Surprisingly, the Bible is silent about the rest of Jesus’ growing years—except for one incident when Jesus was 12 years old. His parents traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (one of three important religious festivals devout Jews were required to observe each year). Jesus—and many others—traveled with them. After the Passover, they began the journey home.

Unknown to them, Jesus had remained in Jerusalem, where he was spending the time in the temple, learning. When his parents discovered he was missing, they rushed back to Jerusalem, anxiously searching for him. When they found him, Jesus, he gently reminded them that he wasn’t just an ordinary 12-year-old. He was also the Son of God: “Why were you searching for me? … Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

But then comes the amazing part. He heads back to their home town, Nazareth, and we’re told that Jesus “was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51). Imagine! The true God, the all-powerful one, the wise one, gave obedience to human parents! He listened to—and obeyed—human beings! They should have been obeying him! Yet he obeyed them! WHY? Why would the true God give obedience to human parents?

Here’s why—it’s what we needed him to do. You see, God’s standard to enter heaven is perfection. God doesn’t say, “Do the best you can,” God doesn’t say, “Try hard, I’ll overlook the rest.” God does say, “Be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Perfect? Yes, perfect. That’s God’s demand. And no matter how hard we try, you and I don’t match up. So what did we need? We needed a Savior who could live a human life. Because Jesus was human he could live a human life; because he was God he could live that life perfectly, and live it in your place. In other words, because Jesus is true man and true God, the life he lived has been credited to you.

So as we watch Jesus obeying his parents, he’s not just doing that for himself; he’s doing that in your place. As we see him showing perfect love for his fellow humans, he’s not just doing that for himself—he’s doing that in your place. We couldn’t do it—he did it! The results? Now God can look at you and me who believe in him and say, “You’re perfect! You’re holy!” No, not because you were or are, but because Jesus lived a perfect life—in your place—and God has graciously credited that to your account.

Jesus DID it! For me! For you!

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