This post is written by Rachel Myrick as a companion for Unit 19, Session 2 of The Gospel Project for Adults, Volume 7: From Heaven to Earth (Spring 2023).
When I was 12 years old, my good friend from church invited me to walk to her house with her after school. She didn’t live far from our middle school, and my 12-year-old brain didn’t even consider that (1) I didn’t have my parents’ permission, (2) her dad wouldn’t be home to take me to my house until 5 pm, and (3) I had the key that would let my older brother into the house when he got off the high school bus. Did I forget to mention this was in 1994? Oh, and I lived in Great Falls, Montana. There was about 3 inches of snow on the ground, and it was about -20 degrees outside. When it finally dawned on my pre-teen brain that I probably should call my mom (who would have just gotten home at 4:30) to let her know where I was, I was shocked to find out I was grounded until my birthday—three months away.
Now that I’m a mom, I can only cringe at my lack of wisdom. If either of my boys did something similar, I’d also ground them for three months. If anything, my mom probably grounded me a month for each year that I’d taken off her life from the sheer terror of wondering where I was.
When Jesus was 12 years old, He stayed in the temple when His family began the trek back to Nazareth. Before we scold Mary and Joseph for negligence, it was common in Bible times for large caravans of families and relatives to be separated by gender.1 The women and children would be together, and the men would be together. Jesus, on the cusp of manhood, could have been with either group. It is very possible that Mary thought Jesus was with Joseph, and Joseph thought He was with Mary. In either case, it took them a day to figure out that Jesus wasn’t with their party.
I was “missing” for two hours, and my mom was fit to be tied. As parents, we can only imagine the anxiousness Mary and Joseph felt after three days of searching. We heartily understand Mary’s words when she finally found her firstborn, “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (Luke 2:48). Jesus’s response brought them up short: “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” (v. 49). The Bible assures us that Mary and Joseph didn’t know that, and they didn’t understand what Jesus meant. Perhaps after years of feeding Jesus, teaching Him to speak, watching Him learn to walk, and even potty-training Him, they simply forgot that He was the same yet different than their other sons. Jesus was uniquely fully God and fully man. He was like us in every way, yet without sin. Everything Jesus did, even as an infant and youth, perfectly fulfilled God’s righteous requirement set out in the law of Moses.
What was confusing for Mary and Joseph is good news for us. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. His life of perfect obedience and sinlessness pleased the Father and proved that He is the worthy sacrifice for sin. All who trust in Jesus receive life and forgiveness through His death and resurrection and are credited with His perfect righteousness.
1. Mal Couch, Luke: Christ the Son of Man, Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series (AMG Publishers, 2006), 55.
Rachel Myrick is the content and production editor for The Gospel Project for Adults.
Bobbi Vaughn says
I love the leader helps, but I get so frustrated trying to find them each week that I often just go on to another resource.
Can you stream line the process like you did for the scripture handout? If that could be right there in the teacher book, it would be wonderful!!
Daniel Davis says
I’ve recently cleaned up the way the blog posts are tagged so this should be easier now. On the main page for the site, if you hold your cursor over the menu option for “resource library,” “additional resources” will come up. Clicking that option will take you to the post for the volume with all the leader helps catalogued by session. And we will still be making the weekly blog post for each session’s links. My apologies for not getting the previous week’s post out on time.