We have very little information about Jesus’ childhood. Luke is the only gospel writer who reveals anything about our Lord between birth and adulthood, and he shares only one incident that occurred after he and his family had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover.
And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:42-47)
At twelve years of age, kids should be playing sports and video games, griping about homework, riding bikes, going to camp, and making friends. But where do we find Jesus? Sitting among the scribes, listening and asking questions.
Don’t get me wrong. The application I’m making is not that kids need to grow up faster. If anything, our children are growing up too fast. Here are some stats reported in the Wall Street Journal several years ago:
- The crimes committed by these younger teens are growing in severity too: We are reading about murder, rape and drug abuse.
- Between 1988 and 1995, the proportion of girls saying they had sex before 15 rose to 19% from 11%. Boys remained stable at 21%.
- The past decade has seen more than a doubling of the proportion of eighth-graders who have smoked marijuana (10% today) and of those who no longer see it as dangerous.
- Suicide among tweens more than doubled between 1979 and 1995.
- Eating disorders such as anorexia and obsessive dieting are on the rise.
It would appear that while moms and dads are trying everything from face lifts to the newest skin creams to recapture their youth, their kids are piling on makeup, sliding into tight clothes, experimenting with drugs, and hanging out with older teens to feel older.
I didn’t bring up Jesus’ childhood to get kids to grow up. I wanted to make another point about sacrifice. Jesus wasn’t a normal kid. He gave up his childhood for his mission to save mankind from itself. And his childhood isn’t all that he gave; he gave up his life.
What Christ gave should inspire sacrifice in our lives. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Jesus died on a cross so that we would not have to suffer the penalty for our sins. Is it too much for him to ask us to put him first in our lives?