Luke 2:49 says: “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
1. To do the Father’s work—John 10:37.
2. To proclaim the Father’s words—John 17:8.
3. To reveal the Father’s character—John 1:14, John 1:18.
4. To glorify the Father’s Name—John 12:28.
5. To carry out the Father’s will—Luke 22:42.
6. To unfold the Father’s love—John 16:27.
7. To bring to the Father’s house—John 14:2.
This passage is one of peculiar interest, as this account which it gives is the only circumstance mentioned of our blessed Lord from His childhood till He was thirty years of age. And while it contains much matter for deeper reflection, it bears at once on the surface this information—that He was living in strict obedience to the law of Moses, and in wonderful lowliness and meekness, was being brought up as any child of human parents might be.
I. Our Lord does not appear before us in His childhood like the child Samuel, dwelling always in the Temple, removed from the ways of common men; but He is disclosed to us in very great humility in the ways of common life, as ordinary children are brought up in subjection and retirement, differing only in that quick understanding in things divine which arises from the love and fear of God. Of this, perhaps, one reason was that our Lord has called upon us to imitate Him more especially in meekness and lowliness; and humility is best secured and guarded in the most ordinary stations of life, and in the most common circumstances of obscurity and poverty. Another reason for our blessed Saviour’s thus taking upon Himself this ordinary condition as a child may be this: in order that all men in their station in life may be able to imitate and follow Him, which they could not do so well if He had appeared as one set apart from other men, as some of His own prophets and servants had been. A third reason may be that our Lord thus learned, as man, to sympathise and have a fellow-feeling with the lot of mankind; in all their infirmities, in all their trials; to be a Child among children, in a condition not differing from theirs,—this was the choice of His love for them.
II. We hear nothing more of our Lord’s childhood, but it is quite enough if we know and receive this. It at once raises the common life of us all, especially of all children, up to heaven. If God, then, was so wonderfully present and hiding Himself in that lowly condition, in things that appeared outwardly like those of other children, and the usual ways of life, He may be now also spiritually present in the hearts and lives of children who are born again in Baptism as the sons of God, although the world knows nothing of it.
(Williams, Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. i., p. 119.)
We have here—
A glimpse of our Lord’s outward life in childhood. The evangelists tell us almost nothing of the events of our Lord’s outward life during His first thirty years. There was perhaps little to tell. One day would pass much like another, and the words of St. Luke with reference to the childhood of John the Baptist were probably true also of the childhood and youth of our Lord: “He was in the desert, till the time of His showing to Israel.” Our Lord passed through a truly human development, and was thus in all things like unto His brethren. The outward scene of this development was the quiet household circle of Joseph and Mary. Of their life St. Luke has only one thing of importance to tell us: “And His parents went every year to Jerusalem to the Feast of the Passover.” Yet this simple fact is sufficient; it gives us a concise summary of the calm piety which ruled the spirit of the family life in Joseph and Mary’s home. In those few words the evangelist paints for us, in this picture of the life in which our Lord grew up, the three noblest things which, since the Fall, our earthly life has had to show: piety, household virtue and happiness, patriotism.
II. On one of these yearly journeys an event happened which gives us a glimpse of the inward life of our Lord during His childhood. In the Temple, whither He went with His parents, He felt Himself at home, far more than in Nazareth. Here He felt as if in His Father’s house; here were the scenes of dear memories and work. “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” How is it that ye sought Me? Since I was not with you, where could I be but in the Temple? Ah, yes, if we rightly understood the heart of Christ, we would never be in perplexity, never in error, where we have to seek Him, when He is lost to us. Wist ye not—have ye not heard it from the mouth of angels, shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna and above all from the words of prophecy—that I must be about My Father’s business? Another Father than Joseph seeks Me; I am not alone your son, O Mother! but the Son of the Highest. My true element is the life of direct communion and nearness to Him, about His most direct charge and business; yes, even in His house. “I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.”
(R. Rothe, Nachgelassene Predigten, vol. i., p. 239.)
References: Luk 2:41, Luk 2:42.—Preacher’s Monthly, vol. i., p. 45. Luk 2:41-52.—Clergyman’s Magazine, vol. ii., p. 16; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 56. Luk 2:41-52.—Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 159.