Lukeby Mike Raiter
Balancing love and commitment to our family with our primary obligation to our heavenly Father is often among the toughest issues we face as Christians, one that the Lord Jesus himself encountered.
Jesus had the privilege of being brought up in a family who loved and served God. His parents displayed their godliness by travelling annually to Jerusalem for the Passover. It was a 120-kilometre trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem, taking three or four days. For safety, people would travel in groups.
Jesus is 12 years old, which according to Jewish custom is the last year of childhood. Luke now presents us with a family crisis, as Jesus’ parents discover on the journey home that He isn’t with them. He is still in the Temple, talking with the experts in the law and leaving them amazed at His wisdom and understanding (vv. 41–47).
A worried Mary asks Him why He has caused them such anxiety. We now come to the heart of the story. For the first time in the gospel, Jesus speaks and informs His parents that His relationship with His heavenly Father must take priority (vv. 48–49). While Jesus will remain with them in Nazareth, loving, submissive, and obedient, this incident in the Temple is a turning point in His relationship with them. While they remain His parents and He their child, from now on His heavenly Father must come first.
Of course, Jesus was unique. His relationship with His heavenly Father was a special one, and His calling from God unique. Nevertheless, for many Christians, a commitment to Jesus has serious implications for their relationship with their family. We too must be about our Father’s business. God’s mission for the world is our mission. God’s plan to redeem the world is one that involves us all, and it must come first, even if it conflicts with our family’s desires. We still love our family, but above all, we honour our true heavenly Father.
What do we learn from this story of the uniqueness of Jesus as both the son of Mary and Joseph, and the Son of the heavenly Father?
What does it mean to “honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), especially when you are older or have left the family home?