We know very little about Jesus’ childhood or young manhood.
When Jesus was twelve years of age, Joseph and Mary were headed back to Nazareth from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. They must have assumed Jesus was hanging out with relatives in their caravan. But he wasn’t. Unbeknownst to them, he’d lingered behind at the Temple. He was bringing amazement to religious leaders through his “better-than-bar-mitzvahed” spiritual understanding (Luke 2).
Then, when his parents found him, and after a brief dialogue, Jesus went home with them. We’re told he was a compliant child—the Son of God submitting to these earthly parents. He was obedient to Joseph and Mary, even when He may have known He knew better than they did.
The research historian, Luke, tells us Jesus’ parents didn’t know what to think. They had asked him why he had stayed back in Jerusalem when their clan was heading North. His response was wrapped up in an enigma, “I was doing my Father’s business.”
Losing him at the temple wasn’t the only thing lost on his mother and father. But then we read in Luke 2:52 that he grew in four ways—mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially—all under the supervision of his parents. Despite their incomprehension, they still provided a great environment for Jesus’ development and growth.
It makes us wonder, “Are we raising the kids God placed in our household like Joseph and Mary raised their extra-ordinary, first-born Son? Are our ordinary kids growing and flourishing in all four areas under our supervision?”
First, we could ask ourselves if we are providing for them to grow in wisdom, in insight, and intelligence.
Education isn’t something just to leave with the professionals. Intellectual development is for us to direct. Teachable moments are for us parents to capitalize on. From infancy to adulthood, we can provide an environment for learning.
Second, are we nurturing our kids’ physical maturation?
Ancient carpenters hauled and installed heavy beams of wood, not just 1x2s. Certainly, Jesus’ hands were calloused; his shoulders were muscled.
We can plan all kinds of occasions for our kids to work and to play; to eat and to sleep. Under our roofs and in our yards, they can grow healthy and strong.
Also, am I, as a parent, steering my child’s affections toward God?
I can guide and instruct them to look up and to seek approval from God. I can show them how to find blessing from God, like Jesus did. I can show them how to have a close relationship with our heavenly Father and how to find favor with God.
Finally, are we showing the young’uns who share our last name how to navigate interpersonal relationships?
Are they learning from us how to build friendships that are good and mutually uplifting?
We should be teaching them to be respectful, courteous, kind, and considerate, so that they’re worthy of human favor. Not unlike their vertical relationship with God, their horizontal relationships with family and friends can grow, too.
Parents, are we providing a rich environment for our kids to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially, like Jesus’ parents did?
With God’s help, we can.
You see, the implication from Luke 2:52 is that Joseph and Mary were Jesus’ teachers, sports coaches, youth pastors, and social directors.
That’s a great model for all parents.
That’s about all we know from the first decades of Jesus’ life. It’s all God thought we needed to know. It must be important.