214 - Jesus Grows Up
AUGUST 2 - Nº 214 Matthew 2:12-23; Luke 2:39-52
When Herod realized that the Magi had left Israel without reporting back to him (see #213 - August 1), he was furious! His plot to kill the new “king” had been ruined. So, he came up with a new one. First, he used the Magi’s account of when the star had appeared to calculate the child’s age. Then he decided to kill all the baby boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. Such a wide-spread massacre was sure to include the new “king!” Jeremiah had prophesied more than 650 years before that Jewish mothers would weep for their children that would be annihilated (see Jeremiah 31:15). This was the second time that this one prophecy had been fulfilled. Jewish mothers had mourned deeply for the little ones they lost when King Nebuchadnezzar’s troops invaded Jerusalem between 589 and 587 BC (see #184 - July 3, #185 - July 4, #186 - July 5). Now, they mourned again over the babies slaughtered by King Herod. A few years later Herod died. Again, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him that it was safe to return to Israel from Egypt (where they had escaped—see #213 - August 1). So, Joseph moved his family back to Nazareth, a small village with about 400-500 inhabitants. Jesus grew up there. He was a strong, healthy child filled with wisdom. And God’s grace was evident in his life. It was customary for all Jewish boys to go through a bar mitzvah when they turned 13. At that age, they were considered old enough to enjoy the religious rights and accept the religious responsibilities of an adult. This “rite of passage” usually took place during the Passover Festival at the Temple in Jerusalem. It included tests of the boy’s character and knowledge. When he passed the tests, there was a huge celebration. Jewish boys often accompanied their parents to the Festival the year before their bar mitzvah so they could observe and learn what to expect when it was time for them to participate. In keeping with this tradition, Jesus joined his parents on this pilgrimage journey when he was 12. Since the trip from Galilee took several days, Jesus and his parents traveled and camped out with a large group of family members and friends from Nazareth. When the feast was over and it was time to return home, Jesus stayed behind at the Temple. Mary and Joseph were unaware of this. They traveled a whole day thinking he was with others in their group. That evening, they looked for Jesus and could not find him. They immediately rushed back to Jerusalem and searched anxiously for three days. They finally found him sitting in the Temple with the teachers. He was listening intently and asking questions. Everyone who heard him speak was amazed at his knowledge and his ability to answer the questions others raised. Even his parents were astonished at what they saw. But Mary ran over and asked, “Son, how could you do this to us? We have been so worried about you!” Jesus replied, “Don’t you realize that I need to be in My Father’s House doing what He wants me to do?” But it was difficult for his parents to fully comprehend what he meant.
Jesus clearly understood who he was! He was the Son of God! Because of this amazing fact, he needed to be where God wanted him to be—doing what God wanted him to do! Do you understand who you are? Do you realize that if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you, too, are a child of God? Are you where God wants you to be right now? Are you doing what He wants you to do?