Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mary Knows III - The Temple

How will we react when our assumptions 
are turned upside-down by Christ's words?
...they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:46-51


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Temple

This portion recounts the well-known incident which occurred when Jesus was twelve years old. It is a window into his childhood. Imagine the astonishing things that Mary and Joseph beheld as Jesus grew up. Imagine their shock as they observe the differences between Jesus and his siblings. It must have been an incredible experience. It may have also been terrifying.

We know that they were making their annual family trip to Jerusalem for Passover (v. 41). On the way back, Mary and Joseph realize that their assumption was incorrect; Jesus was not in their caravan. He had been left behind. Or he had intentionally stayed behind, as the case may be.

Notice the role that understanding places in this narrative. It serves as the catalyst for all the action and reaction in this account. Jesus' understanding was on full display and he left the people amazed. Mary and Joseph's lack of understanding was also on display and they were filled with anxiety. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost when all the while he was home. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was mistreating them, but he was busy treating others to his understanding. Mary and Joseph thought they were doing their parental duty, but Jesus was with his Father the whole time.

These are not the only reversals in the passage. Remember The Annunciation, when Mary submitted herself to God's will. Here, Jesus subjects himself to his parent's lead and goes to Nazareth despite his proclamation that he was already at home. Surely, this reversal must have struck a chord within Mary's heart. Verse 51 tells us that much. How many times did Jesus' words and actions produce a rebuke in Mary's heart? I imagine there were countless instances which Mary treasured. Did she understand everything as it was going on? Assuredly not. But she treasured these experiences, sometimes that's all we can do.


I see rebuke in this passage. Not a harsh, abrasive rebuke, but a gentle, loving one. Jesus does not resist his parents. Jesus just does his thing and lets his parents experience his truth. Isn't that how Jesus works today? Does he not move subtly in our lives, letting us know where we err without making us feel stupid or inadequate?

Once we are given the necessary information, it is up to us to make the decision. Are we going to submit to his will, or are we going to ask him to submit to ours? He will not force us to obey, he asks us to be willing to obey. Sometimes, as we strive for understanding we learn some things that we cannot unlearn. We will be forced to make difficult decisions. We may be rebuked. It simply goes with the territory.

In the end, Mary reacts to this incident the same way she reacted to The Advent—she treasures it. She holds on to it like a precious jewel. How will we react when God's way is contrary to our way? How will we react when our logic contradicts divine logic? How will we react when our assumptions are turned upside-down by Christ's words? Will you treasure it? Or will you look for an interpretation that suits your lifestyle? Will I outright reject God's word or, worse, cram it into my own perception of good Christian behavior?

God help us as we seek to know him more. There are going to be difficult times when our lifestyles will be challenged. May we truly treasure God's word even when it is an inconvenient truth.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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