Al Earley | Mom, didn’t you know I would be in the temple?

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

As we begin a new year, if you are likely to make any resolutions, they will most likely deal with your faith, family, or health. Today, I want to think about the link between faith and family, and why these are so important in our lives. And why getting faith and family right is a lifelong challenge.

To start, we look at the only story about Jesus’ youth. If we look at Luke 2:41-52 we will learn very little about Jesus’ home life. We learn he went to Jerusalem annually. He was a child prodigy in regards to religious matters. This is the last time Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, is mentioned. And he has a sense of who he is as God’s son.

His parent’s think Jesus is with the group they are traveling with, and they go one day’s journey before they realize he is missing. It takes one day to get back to Jerusalem. Then for three days, they search in the largest city of the country, during Passover, the busiest time of the year. When they finally find him at the temple Mary exclaims, “Child, why have you done this to your Father and me? We have looked for you, filled with anxiety.”

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Jesus’ response is interesting, “Didn’t you know I’d be in my father’s house?” Oh, that we should be so lucky, that our children would long to be in church as Jesus longed to be in the temple.

The words of Mary, “We looked for you filled with anxiety,” seems to be her fate during Jesus’ life. Surely, she would be filled with anxiety because she loved him like a son instead of like the son of God, born to reveal the will of God. Look at the way Jesus and his mother interact at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), Jesus won’t speak to Mary and his brothers when they come to speak to him (Matthew 12:46-50), and he preaches to choose faith over family if family should ever make you choose (Luke 14:26).

This is not unique. All the Bible families struggle with huge issues of murder, adultery, choosing favorites, withholding love and the inability to raise good kids. The best guidance the Bible has on parenting includes texts like Colossians 3 (selected), “Put on as God’s chosen ones, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience… Forgive one another, just as the Lord has forgiven you. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Catholic Monk Henri Nouwen uses a powerful image of the relationship between parent and child. Children are like special guests in their parent’s home. Perhaps to treat them otherwise creates a dependency that is unhealthy for both child and parent, and interferes with God’s plan for the children he has called us to raise. Does this image of a child as a guest not sound meaningful for Jesus Christ and his parents?

“Above all clothe yourselves in love.” The parent’s job is never done.”

That is why Mary is at the cross of Jesus to watch Him die. Here we see a glimpse of Jesus’ love for his mother, as he speaks to the need he must have always sensed in her. “Woman, behold your son.” And to the beloved disciple, he makes complete that which he could never be, “Behold, your mother” (John 19:22). He could never truly be her son, what with the world to save, a death to die. And beyond that, He would be present in generation after generation giving strength and courage to all the parents with broken hearts and dreams, so that they may continue to love unconditionally the children/guests God has granted them to raise. It is noteworthy that by making sure John took care of Mary, it insured she would be present to receive the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room on Pentecost (Acts 1:14).

How does your faith affect your relationships in your family? Do you need to treat your children more like guests given to you by God to raise for Him? Do you clothe yourself in love when relating to your family? I hope your resolutions this new year will help you be more holy, beloved, compassionate, kind, lowly, meek, and patient, forgiving, and above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Happy New Year! 

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