The Gospel of Luke - Part 9: Lessons from Jesus' Youth

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for Connection Class Leaders at Hoffmantown church.)


The last time we met, you gave me three homework assignments.

  1. Wanda re-raised the question about the Decapolis. The Decapolis was a group of ten so called free cities east of Israel. Nine of them were east of the Jordan and one was west. On a map that I used several weeks ago, the map appeared to show a city east of the Jordan as being named Decapolis. Regardless of what the map appeared to show, there was never a city named Decapolis. I have found a list of the ten cities, and none of them are named Decapolis. Either the map was in error, or the name was on the map to indicate the area of the Decapolis cities. Decapolis was used to denote the area in which the cities were located and was used to refer to the group of cities, but never as one city.

  2. The next assignment was to determine if Jesus was trained as a carpenter. We know that his earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter. During the ministry of Jesus, at one point he returned to Nazareth and was teaching in the synagogue there. The people who heard him were amazed and raised the question “How can this be?” They said:

    Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? --Matthew 13:55

    So by this, we know that Joseph was a carpenter. It seems reasonable to think that Joseph would have taught his son his own trade, but of course not all sons turn out to have the trade of their father.

    The Greek word used in Matthew 13:55 is τεκτον [tek·tone] which is a worker in wood, a carpenter, joiner, builder. There is only one other time in the New Testament that this Greek word is used and there is no other Greek word used in the New Testament which is translated as carpenter.

    The fascinating thing about the other occurrence, which is Mark 6:3, is that Mark is describing exactly the same event and also is relating the question asked by the people who heard Jesus. Mark quotes it as:

    “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. --Mark 6:3
    Two things jump out by comparing what Matthew tells us and what Mark tells us. One is that Matthew calls one of his brothers Joseph and Mark calls him Joses. Most scholars think that Joses and Joseph were the same brother, using slightly different spellings of the Aramaic name.

    But the more pertinent difference between what Matthew tells us and what Mark tells us is that Mark says they said “Isn’t this the carpenter?” As Mark relates the story, it tells us that indeed Jesus has trained to be a carpenter as he was growing up. It is not possible to determine for sure if Matthew or Mark recorded the question correctly, but it is clear that they were recording the same question. Since the Matthew verse is the only one that tells us Joseph was a carpenter and the Mark verse the only one that tells us Jesus was a carpenter, depending on which one you choose to assume to be the accurate quote, the other person then may or may not have been a carpenter. Of course, if you assume that both were carpenters, both quotes would be true, but the recorder, Matthew and Mark just recorded the trait of the person they understood to be the subject of the phrase.

    It seems likely that both were carpenters, but I don’t think the text is absolute proof for either. The text clearly supports that at least one of them, Joseph or Jesus was a carpenter, maybe both.

  3. My third assignment was a question that was an offshoot of our discussion about the Jewish celebration of The Passover. George, or someone asked if there was Biblical basis for the Jewish ritual of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah. The answer is no.

    These ceremonies are a “rite of passage” from childhood into adulthood. For boys, it occurs at the age of 13, for girls it is at the age of 12. Some groups of Jews use the age 13 for girls also. Prior to adulthood, Jewish children are not required to obey the Jewish law and cannot participate in the formal rituals and celebrations. Once they reach adulthood, as celebrated by these festivities, they are considered accountable and expected to obey and participate. This celebration of “adulthood” is not based on Biblical Jewish law. It is a relatively modern tradition. As recently as 1900, these celebrations were unheard of. No party or celebration is required for the passage from childhood to adulthood to have occurred.

Now - back to the book of Luke where we stopped three weeks ago. During the last lesson, we added the details about the birth and early childhood of Jesus that we find in Mathew and not in Luke -- specifically, the visit by the magi, Herod’s attempt to kill the baby Jesus and the trip to Egypt that Joseph and Marry and the baby took to avoid Herod’s death squads.

Then we recapped what little we know about Jesus between his birth and the start of his ministry, 30 years later. We know he was raised in Nazareth and that he and his family traveled to Jerusalem each year for The Passover. That is about all we know, except that he may have been trained as a carpenter.

It was during one of those trips to Jerusalem to observe the Passover that his parents accidentally left him behind when they started back to Nazareth, but they had to return to Jerusalem to find him, where he was listening and questioning the teachers in the Temple. Luke tells us:

When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days 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. --Luke 2:45-47
At the end of the last lesson we were seeing what we can learn about what we should be doing as Christians, from what Jesus, as a 12-year-old boy, was doing.

We concluded that we need to be an aggressive learner, like Jesus was. He sought out the teachers and discussed things with them. We need to want to learn, we need to be an active, aggressive learner.

We also concluded that, like Jesus, we need to be a good listener. It is hard to learn if we are not willing to listen.

There are some more ways that we should be like the 12 year old Jesus. We need to ask questions.

They found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. --Luke 2:46
Jesus asked questions. Jesus asked questions of these teachers. In fact, Jesus asked questions throughout His ministry. In Mark 8, you can find 14 questions that Jesus asked in one chapter!  One of the greatest learning tools is to ask questions. We need to prioritize like Jesus
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. --Luke 2:48-50
Notice what all happened. In verse 48 it is his mother who addressed Him. You know the stages you go thru when one of your kids is missing? First fear, then relief and joy, then anger - Joseph was probably too angry to talk. Remember, he had already lost the race home.

Here’s a sequence of events and the situation that parents can relate to.

They were seeing Jesus in a new light, from a different perspective. They had known Him as their son. But now they were getting a glimpse that He was much more -- they saw His wisdom, His maturity, His heart for God. We also need to see Jesus in a new light. We need a fresh and deeper appreciation of who He is.

This word astonished (also translated “amazed”, “marveled”) is important. It’s used over and over again to describe how people responded to Jesus. It is the Greek word εκπλεσσω [ek·ples·so] - to be struck with amazement, astonished, amazed. Here are some of the places that the same Greek word is used relative to Jesus.

Luke 2:47 - And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

Luke 4:22 - And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Luke 4:32 - and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.

Luke 5:9 - For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken.

Luke 5:26 - They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Luke 9:43 - And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.  ...  everyone was marveling at all that He was doing.

Jesus was amazing. He is amazing.

There’s a lesson for us in this. People were constantly being surprised by the things Jesus said and did. He didn’t fit their expectations. If we are really studying the Bible, really learning about Jesus, we’ll experience the same thing.

Then in verse 49, the 12-year-old Jesus says -- “Why were you searching for Me?… I had to be in My Father’s house.”

"Had to" is from the Greek δει [dei] - "it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper". It was a necessity established by the counsel and decree of God.  Where else would He be? Jesus wanted His parents to understand His priorities.

Someone has said that "Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.”

I don't think Jesus intended His words to be a rebuke. I think He was just pointing out the reality that directed His life and would direct His ministry: His Father's will:

John 4:34 - Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."

John 5:30 - I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Jesus wanted His parents to understand His values and priorities. He was pointing out that the first place they should have looked for Him was in the temple.

The most important relationship in your life is your relationship with God:

Relationships need to be cultivated in order to be sustained. You’re not going to just automatically be closer to God. In fact, the natural drift of our lives is away from God.

Researchers say that almost everyone wants to get closer to God. Research shows that people who never go to church or have any Christian upbringing still have a strong urge to get closer to God.

A couple had been married for 26 years. As they were driving down the road, the woman began to long for a time when they had more romance in their relationship. She said to her husband, “Do you remember when we used to sit real close as we drove down the highway?” His response was, “I haven't moved.”

If you want this year to be a great year, you’re going to have to move. If you’re going to be closer to God this year, you’re going to have to make a conscious choice to spend time with Him. There’s no substitute, no shortcut...

How often does God have your undivided attention?

Quiet Time - are you having one? If not, this would be a great application to make. If you’re already having one, what can you do to “upgrade”?   Maybe to “two-a-days”?

Here are Three Keys To An Effective Quiet Time:
  (1) A Regular Time
  (2) A Readable Bible
  (3) A Receptive Heart

The next thing we need to model after Jesus is that we need to submit like Jesus

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 2:51
Even though Jesus was right, even though Jesus was always right, He still was submissive toward His parents. Jesus' attitude toward His parents is a great example for us in our attitude toward spiritual leadership. Jesus was still submissive because His parents were in a position of authority over Him. His submission was not based on His faith in them but His faith in His Father.

Jesus made a conscious choice to go with His parents. Think about it - remember who we’re talking about. Jesus was sinless; Jesus was the Son of God. And here He is submitting to His parents.

Jesus’ obedience to His parents was rooted in His obedience to God, to His heavenly Father. He didn’t submit to them because they deserved to be obeyed or because they knew more than He did. He submitted to them because that’s what God the Father wanted Him to do.

Submission is a very important quality to God:

Jesus’ Example:

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 2:51
James gives us that instruction:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. --James 4:7
Paul tells us the Church submits to Jesus:
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. --Ephesians 5:24
Paul tells us to submit to Spiritual Leadership:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. --Hebrews 13:17
We are told to submit To Government:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed. --Titus 3:11
We are to submit to Masters (Employers):
Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative... --Titus 2:9
We are to submit to one another:
...and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. --Ephesians 5:21
Wives are to submit To Husbands:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. --Ephesians 5:22
Children are to submit To Parents:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. --Ephesians 6:1

Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. --Colossians 3:20
Submission is a Christ-like quality that God desires to see in the life of every believer. Notice that Jesus was submissive to His earthly parents, in dying on the cross He was submissive to governing authorities, and He was submissive to the will of His Father. Jesus modeled this quality for us and He expects His disciples to imitate Him.

What are some wrong ideas people have about what it means to be submissive?

What truths does God tell us that should help us have a submissive spirit? What attitudes are part of being submissive the way God desires? We also need to remember that God places clear limits or boundaries on submission.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge..." --Acts 4:19

But Peter and the Apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men". --Acts 5:29
And lastly, we need to grow like Jesus
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. --Luke 2:52
Notice how Jesus grew and developed in all areas: Jesus kept increasing (growing) - that’s the example He left for us.

"Kept increasing"  =  προκοπτω  [prok·op·to] - to go forward, advance, proceed, to increase, make progress. - In this case, to live & thrive, to develop toward maturity

Notice that Jesus kept growing - that’s significant, isn’t it? The problem with a lot of us in our relationship with God is that we stop growing. Either consciously or unconsciously, we reach a point and say, “This is good enough for me.”

Goals can help:

Goals show you’re moving in the right direction, show you’re making progress.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air. --1 Corinthians 9:26
In the Living Bible it says:
So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I'm not just shadow-boxing or playing around. --1 Corinthians 9:26 (LB)
The musical “Oliver” is based on the novel, “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. In the musical, the boy Oliver is in an orphanage where the only food is gruel and the kids are never given enough to eat. So after one meal, Oliver goes up the cruel headmaster and asks for something that gets him into all kinds of trouble - he asks for more. He was still hungry and wanted more food.

Let me encourage you not to settle for mediocrity in your own relationship with God. Don’t settle for what’s good enough for others. Unlike the headmaster in “Oliver”, God wants you to ask for more!

God wants us to partner up with Him in the process of making us more and more like Jesus.

What’s our responsibility?

It’s what we’ve been talking about - making right choices:


Next week:

We will continue our study of Luke, starting with Chapter 3. To prepare, read Chapter 3 of Luke.