"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?"Why didn't Jesus' parents understand? Of all those who knew Jesus they should have seen it pretty clearly. How could they not understand that he was the son of God and when he was speaking of the Father he was speaking of his father - God Almighty.
But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2:49-50)
Not only had Joseph and Mary, at this point, spent 12 years raising Jesus as their son, but they were visited by angels before his birth informing them of the greatest news ever given: the Son of God was coming to earth to save his people. Their son would be the promised Messiah, the Savior of the World.
Read or listen to the entire account by Luke of Jesus at the age of 12 hanging out with some Jewish teachers in the temple courts.
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:30-35)
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21)It is so easy to say they should have understood what Jesus was saying here, but we have been blessed with hindsight. We have the written word of God spelled out for us in black and white. We have the words of Jesus and the events that surrounded him laid out before us through the eyes of 4 different people. We have God's plan for humankind laid out before us in letters written by some of his followers. All written down under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
As I think about what they did know I can better appreciate why they may have not immediately understood. Yes they had been told through angles who Jesus was and why he came. They had been told essentially the big picture, but Jesus had not yet started explaining his mission to everyone and he wouldn't for another 17 years. Not to mention there was no cross, death, or resurrection to put it all into perspective.
When I look at what I understand about God and his son Jesus I know I am missing much even under the light of the whole of scripture. I can read parts of scripture over and over again and not really understand. Light bulbs do go on here and there and my understanding grows as I study, pray, and apply what I read in the Word to my life. Seeing the lack of understanding by Joseph and Mary in this account helps me to realize that complete understanding does not come all at once, if ever really in this life.
I think we have a tendency to look at faith like an academic exercise where we sit down and study the Bible during a certain period of time and then take a test, earn some kind of religions certification, and then we are done. We are now faith literate and we can now apply it all. The more I read the Bible the less academic I find it and the more challenged I feel in my faith. The more I see a intangible interconnection between the words of God, a personal relationship, and life application. A connection between reading, believing, and living but not in a neat simple sequential fashion, but in a more seemingly random, back and forth, sometimes messy, sometimes surprising fashion.
My understanding of God's plan seems to become more clear at the intersection of belief and life. To put it another way for me clarity has somehow come through learning, believing, and living all at the same time. Learning what God has said through the words in the Bible, believing those words, and living out what I believe.
| More on the Essential Jesus journey. |
Photo credits: The first image in this post is titled "Question Mark ?" and was uploaded to flickr.com on May 4, 2005 by Leo Reynolds. The second image in this post is titled "Really Random" and it was uploaded to flickr.com by Dan Morelle on Oct. 28, 2007, 2:13AM PDT.