Luke 2:41-52 (NKJV)
41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Last week we noted that one of the lessons children teach us most readily is that they are under authority, dependent on the care of others. Consequently, we spent our exhortation last week examining the responsibility of those in authority. What is our task as parents?

But children there is an important lesson for you to learn from our text today. Your parents are in authority. They are in charge. And this is no less true when they are wrong than when they are right. Just as the calling that God places on your parents is to lead the family and so bring honor to His Name, the calling that He places on you is to submit to the authorities in your life and so grow in favor with God and men.

Notice this very distinctly in our text today. Jesus is 12 years old – the actual age of some of you and the approximate age of others. He and his family are on a trip – in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. When the family leaves Jerusalem, Jesus remains behind – spending time in the temple learning and growing. Meanwhile, his parents leave town thinking him to be in company with others in the caravan. When they finally search for him, he is nowhere to be found. And now his parents are anxious. They return to Jerusalem. Three days pass before they finally find Jesus – sitting calmly in the temple, not a care in the world, listening to the instruction and asking penetrating questions.

His parents are understandably frustrated, amazed. “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Where have you been? Jesus responds with equal surprise – didn’t you know that I’d be here going about my Father’s business? But they didn’t get it, they didn’t understand. Jesus’ words did not click.

Now let me ask you a question: who was right on this occasion? Whose analysis of the situation was correct? You see, here we have a classic time when Jesus could have said, as young men and women are wont to do, “Mom and Dad, you just don’t understand.” He could have said that and spurned their authority, doing what he perceived to be right – which on this occasion was right. But guess what young men and young women – he didn’t.

What did he do? Luke is quite explicit. “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them… And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Though Jesus was correct, though His plan was acceptable, He subjected Himself to his parents and consequently he grew in favor with God and with men.

So, children, what does God expect of you? He expects you to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ who willingly subjected himself to the authority of his parents even though he understood the situation better than them. He honored his father and mother and so he grew in favor with God and with men. No he didn’t get to stay at the Temple; no he didn’t get to have many other stimulating conversations with the teachers; no he didn’t get to hear their kudos personally. But he got something even better – God’s favor and men’s respect.

So young men and young women – what do you want most? Do you, like Jesus, desire the favor of God more than anything else? Do you, like Jesus, desire to earn the respect of those around you? Then achieve both by imitating him and submitting yourself to your parents. Yes, Dad, Yes, Mom, I will do as you say even if I disagree.

Reminded that we have frequently been disobedient sons and daughters, scorning the authority of those over us, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.