Fifty-Two Weeks of Jesus has kicked off with a look into “His Early Years.” Truth is, it terms of sheer content, the gospels don’t give us much to look at. If you put any stock in apocryphal writings, you get some fanciful stories of Jesus that don’t paint him in a particularly good light. In our trustworthy accounts of the young Christ, we get him born, blessed, worshipped and hurried off to security in Egypt before Herod’s death made it safe to return to the homeland. His dad the carpenter sets up shop in Nazareth and raises Jesus and the family there.
There is only one story in which Jesus is an active participant; the annual journey to Jerusalem in his twelfth year. Then the Bible goes silent for nearly two decades. (John Prine has some theories about Jesus’ missing years, but like the other narratives I mentioned, I wouldn’t put much stock in them.)
Turns out that in all the hub-bub of heading home, Mary and Joseph manage to leave Jesus behind at church. It sounds implausible that good parents would do that, but I can attest they can. Don’t ask me how I know; I just know. While they were looking frantically for the boy – took them three days – Jesus wowed the crowd with his scriptural acumen and gave the first hint that he was aware of his divine identity. Upon being found and scolded by his mama we get the first words of scripture ascribed to Jesus. He basically tells Mary to chill, because she should have known what he was up to. Depending on how you translate his response, he says, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? Or perhaps you remember the more familiar quote, “Be about my father’s business.” Then Mary got all misty-eyed and Luke tells us that Jesus kept on growing, folks liked him, and God did too.
Before we fast forward eighteen years to Jesus at the Jordan, we need to go back to that question again. Either way you understand it, it begs both a question and a response. What’s so important about the Father’s house? What all falls under the category of “the Father’s business?” And more importantly, how do we as followers of this Jesus called to respond. Pretty heady stuff in response to the knee jerk response of preadolescent prodigy. Why was that important to Jesus – and to the inspired writer who made it a point to make sure we heard about it? Why should being in the father’s house and about the Father’s business be priorities for the faithful two millenniums later? And why has such behavior fallen out of favor for the faithful and faithless alike?
Lots of questions emerge from just that one query. The answers – well, I want you to think about it. I will too. Ponder those things in your heart till Sunday. Then join us at the Father’s house Sunday and let’s see what we can make of it. In our 52 Weeks of Jesus, things are about to get rolling. But I think we need to get our arms around this story before we hustle on to the rest.