Red Letter Year: 6/24

Luke 2:36-52

36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

39 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40 There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.

45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.

51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.


Luke is the only Gospel writer who tells us anything of Jesus’ childhood. In a brief story, Luke gives us a good deal of insight into this family. It is easy to feel both the panic of the parents who have lost their boy for three days and the boy’s pull toward independence. We know quite well how both of those feel. Luke was the most skilled writer of the four, we will have many chances to admire his word craft.

Having read Mark and Matthew already, it should surprise us a little to find Jesus having a friendly, engaging discussion with Jerusalem’s religious leaders. Here they find him amazing; they are impressed with his understanding. Elsewhere they find him threatening and for the most part they refuse to acknowledge his understanding of Scripture. We don’t know the content of the discussion here, but it seems safe to gather that the religious leaders weren’t threatened because Jesus was a 12 year old boy, not a man come to challenge the status quo they enjoyed at the expense of so many. But a few religious leaders who took time to listen to adult Jesus teach came away amazed and impressed, and at times convinced by Jesus. Perhaps most of the religious leaders were automatically not threatened by a boy and automatically threatened by a prophet, the teaching of each notwithstanding.

We find the same dynamic at work today. Many people bristle at the idea of Jesus (often because of bad experiences with his followers) without ever giving serious regard to his teachings. Other people accept some idea of Jesus (often because of upbringing) without ever giving serious regard to his teachings. Both need actual exposure to what Jesus taught. The first may find they are not so offended after all. The latter may find they were never nearly as offended as they should have been.

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.