When is disobedience not disobedience?
Luke 2: 41-52
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’
49 ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house?” (v49)
This passage is full of intriguing details. Why were Mary and Joseph unaware that Jesus had remained behind in Jerusalem? Would any parent have left without checking? When they eventually find him, his mother greets him with anger: “Why have you treated us like this?” Yet we are told that she treasured these things in her heart; not a typical response to childish disobedience. He has been thoughtless, selfish - disobedient in our terms. Yet, we are told that when he went home to Nazareth he was obedient to his parents.
Just as yesterday’s reading contrasted loving our life and hating our life, today’s reading contrasts the world’s standards of obedience with obedience to God. Jesus was obedient to his heavenly Father, whose parental demands trumped those of his earthly parents. Jesus had the wisdom to know when disobedience to one was obedience to the other.
give us the wisdom
to know when obedience to you
demands that we be disobedient
to the rules and regulations of this world.
Give us the courage
to reject petty regulations
in favour of the laws of the Kingdom.
Give us the desire
to spend time in your presence
when all around us
things of the world are demanding our attention.
As we spend time with you
may we too grow in wisdom and in stature.