41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.Luke 2:41-52, ESV
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
This story about Jesus’ childhood is both unique and intriguing. What happened between Jesus’ infancy and Jesus’ twelfth birthday? We don’t know. Luke omitted everything in Jesus’ upbringing between those two points. Are we missing something that we ought to have? No. I think it is natural for us to wonder about those early years but no gospel writer comments upon them. Luke was carried along by the Holy Spirit in the writing of this book and therefore has not left out something necessary. The Apostle John helps us to think about omissions in the story. He concludes his gospel acknowledging there was so much that could have been recorded, but not all things were necessary for all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. John wrote, “…there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25)”.
The Temple as a Theme…
What can we learn from omissions in the Gospel timeline? We can learn that the Gospel writers were not simply recording the life of Jesus as a historical biography but also as theological instruction. Simply put, Luke included what was necessary for our spiritual formation and omitted what was unnecessary for that purpose. Luke was forced to make editorial decisions? It seems that way. I doubt his Gospel account would have gained much traction in the ancient world if it was as long and detailed as it could have been. Omissions teach us that whatever Luke did include is significant. As readers, our job is to pay attention and uncover that significance as we seek to understand who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished.
Consider the setting of Jesus’ only appearance as an adolescent. In verses 22-38 we saw the infant Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem, and now in verses 41-49 the adolescent Jesus is in the Temple at Jerusalem again. Does this have significance? I think it does. Luke made choices of what he would include and omit in the writing of Jesus’ story and these verses that conclude the second chapter are important enough for Luke to communicate to his audience. What does Luke intend for us to take away from the repeating setting of the Temple? If we are reading through the entire Gospel of Luke we will need to keep a mental note of this significant place and pay attention to the development of the Temple as a theme from beginning to end.