We have one story about Jesus when He was a child. He was twelve. It was at the time of the Passover, when Jews from the surrounding towns and villages came to Jerusalem to celebrate God’s rescue of their nation.
One day into the return trip of Jesus’ family and relatives to their home in Nazareth, they realized that Jesus was not with them. It was one of those typical, “Well I thought he was with you” moments. Obviously worried, they returned to Jerusalem and spent three days looking for Jesus. Three days. That’s a long time to not find a twelve-year-old in a big, crowded city. That’s three nights going to sleep without finding Him. How do you do that? We had an incident this week with our Chandler that kept us up all night. I can’t imagine spending three days and three nights like that. His parents must have been a wreck by the time they found Him in the temple.
Mary took it personally, like any good Jewish mother would: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48) As if Jesus was purposely trying to make their lives miserable.
Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Jesus wasn’t exactly concerning himself with their problems. He was operating way beyond them. He was already making use of his divine nature, while growing “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) When they finally found Him, He was “in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.” (Luke 2:46-47)
We can tell a lot right here about the teaching tactics Jesus was to use throughout His ministry — something we could all learn from.
First He listened. If you have something you want to convey to someone, you start by listening to them. You don’t just start in with your stuff. You first find out where they are; who they are; and what they know. By this, you are also making them important. Many Christian leaders are so anxious to get to what they want to say that they skip this step. Skipping this step belittles people and makes you appear arrogant, even if you are not.
Then He asked questions. Questions are far more involving than answers. Questions invite engagement. You can spout answers and never engage someone, but if you ask them questions, they have to join in the conversation. Jesus was asking questions that He knew the answers to, but He wanted to hear what they had to say. He wanted them to do their own thinking.
Then finally He got to the answers. This is brilliant. If you do this right, people will be begging you for the very thing you wanted to tell them all along.
“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” If you’re looking for Jesus today, you’ll find Him in the temple, which is in you, and you’ll find Him doing the same things He did when He was a boy. He’s listening to you, asking you questions and giving you answers.