Lesson 3: Beginnings

You will say to me, ‘You are my Abba, my God, my rock and my deliverance.’ And I will appoint you my firstborn, higher than all the earth’s rulers. I will maintain my love for you forever and my covenant with you will never fail. I will establish your line forever and your throne as long as the heavens endure.

– Psalm 89:26-29 (TIB) 

Devotion: Read Luke 2:41-52. This is the only story in the gospels of Jesus’ “hidden years,” the period between his infancy and thirty years old. Many cultures have legends that Jesus travels to their land during this “silent” time. Most likely, Jesus spends it as a carpenter (Mt 13:54-56).

This story presents another interesting, but unanswerable question: when does Jesus know or discover he is Messiah and incarnate God? Few believe he is always omniscient (all-knowing). If that were the case, the infant Jesus was fully self-aware and simply waited patiently for 30 years to begin his ministry. Can Jesus experience full humanity if he knows everything? Most believe he becomes aware of his identity at a particular moment: in the Temple at 12; in baptism (3:21); during the wilderness temptations (4:1, 14); at the transfiguration (9:28); etc. Others believe he never has absolute assurance until death, but like all humans, he acts on faith. This idea agrees with the atonement theories suggesting Jesus lives the faithful, sinless life we are called to live. Is the answer to the question of Jesus’s self-awareness important? If so, why? Do some answers change the power of Jesus’ life or teachings? How does Luke 2:39-40 contribute to this discussion?

Personal Worship Option: Read Romans 8:15-17. God gives us our true identity. Are you embracing what God says about you? Do you live out of that identity? Spend time praying as the child of God you are. Begin by confessing any “masks” you wear for the world.

Dig A Little Deeper:

2:41 If possible, faithful Jews travel to Jerusalem for three major feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles/Booths (Deut 16:13-17). Large groups would travel together for safety (2:44). What are the positive effects of requiring pilgrimages? Are there negative effects?

2:42 A Jewish boy officially reaches manhood at 13 years old. What are the confusing signals our culture sends regarding when a child becomes an adult?

2:46 If there is a connection between the three days in this story and the time Jesus spends in the tomb (9:22), how does that change our reading of the passage? The implication is Jesus knows the Torah and is not in opposition to it. He is discussing how to interpret and apply it.

2:48 Jesus’ parents assume he acts like a normal boy, and Mary mildly rebukes him. This is different from how Jesus is presented in many apocryphal gospels where he performs miracles in his youth. Mary refers to Joseph as “your father,” setting up Jesus’ response.

2:49 “In my Father’s house” or “in my Abba’s house” can also be translated “about my Abba’s business.” Does this translation change how you hear his response?

2:50 This verse suggests Mary and Joseph do not understand Jesus’ incarnation or role. The reference to “Father” (2:49) brings into question Joseph’s role in Jesus’ life. Is he Jesus’ parent (2:41), father, foster father, mentor, or something else? What makes someone a “father?”

2:51 Jesus submits to Mary and Joseph’s authority as parents. This is the last reference in the gospels to Joseph. Tradition says he is much older than Mary and passes away between this story and when Jesus reemerges at thirty years old to begin his ministry.

2:52 If Jesus is born omniscient, how can he grow in wisdom? Does this reference suggest he becomes aware of his role as Messiah and divinity at a later time?  

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