Finding the Child Jesus

Jesus at the Temple - by Brian Jekel

Jesus at the Temple
– by Brian Jekel

Losing, searching and discovering Jesus as a child parallels the Crucifixion, burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus as an adult. Looking at the stories in the first two chapters of Luke in the order given we can see that they all are about prophecy and fulfillment. The first chapter is about announcing the births of John and Jesus before their conception. The canticles of Mary and Zechariah praise God for remembering his holy people and delivering them. Through the whole second chapter of Luke we see in the birth of Jesus, the visit of the shepherds, and the presentation of Jesus in the temple, that these sequential scripture passages identify Jesus as the messiah and foretell of things to come[1]. So when it comes to the story of Jesus lost and found (Luke 2:41-52) we should expect it to be just as foretelling.

These are the similarities and contrasts between the Joyful Mystery of finding the child Jesus in the temple compared in part to the Sorrowful Mystery of the Crucifixion but mostly compared to the Glorious Mysteries of the Resurrection and Ascension:

  • The setting is the preparation for the paschal feast (Luke 2:41, Luke 22:1).
  • At the completion of the Passover the absence of the boy Jesus is not noticed(Luke 2:43). At the completion of Passover the death of Jesus is heavily bereaved (Luke 23:48).
  • In both accounts Jesus is missing for three days.
  • Mary and Joseph look for the boy Jesus among their caravan for an entire day but end up returning to Jerusalem (Luke 2:44-45) while the women of Jerusalem, after one day, come to the tomb looking to anoint the body of Jesus only to return to the disciples with the news that He is missing (Luke 24:1-9).
  • After three days Mary and Joseph find young Jesus sitting in the midst of the teachers (Luke 2:46). On the third day Jesus appears in the midst of the disciples behind locked doors(Luke 24:36).
  • The teachers, Mary and Joseph are all astounded at the actions and words of the Child Jesus (Luke 2:47-48). The disciples and the women of Jerusalem are all terrified, troubled and incredulous (Luke 24:38-43).
  • Mary and Joseph do not understand what the boy Jesus means(Luke 2:50). Jesus teaches the disciples, explaining the law and the prophets to them concerning the messiah’s mission to suffer, die and rise (Luke 24:45-58).
  • The epilogue describes young Jesus growing in wisdom and favor with Mary keeping the experience in her heart, whereas the epilogue of the Ascension describes the disciples continually in the temple praising God.
Luke 11:29-30
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
29And the multitudes running together, he began to say: This generation is a wicked generation: it asketh a sign, and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30For as Jonas was a sign to the Ninivites; so shall the Son of man also be to this generation.
Luke 2:41-52
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
41And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
42And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,
43And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
44And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
46And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
47And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
50And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.
52And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Luke 2:41
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
41And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
Luke 22:1
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1Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand.
Luke 2:43
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43And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
Luke 23:48
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
48And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts.
Luke 2:44-45
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
44And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
Luke 24:1-9
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
1And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared.
2And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre.
3And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel.
5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead?
6He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee,
7Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8And they remembered his words.
9And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest.
Luke 2:46
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
46And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
Luke 24:36
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36Now whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them, and saith to them: Peace be to you; it is I, fear not.
Luke 2:47-48
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47And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
Luke 24:38-43
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
38And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.
40And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and feet.
41But while they yet believed not, and wondered for joy, he said: Have you any thing to eat?
42And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb.
43And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them.
Luke 2:50
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
50And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
Luke 24:45-58
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
45Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
46And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day:
47And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48And you are witnesses of these things.
49And I send the promise of my Father upon you: but stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high.
50And he led them out as far as Bethania: and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.
51And it came to pass, whilst he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up to heaven.
52And they adoring went back into Jerusalem with great joy.
53And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
  1. Jesus said that no sign would be given the doubting generation except that of the sign of Jonah, implying that just as Jonah spent three days swallowed up in the belly of a great fish, so too would the son of man spend three days swallowed up in the belly of the earth; His grave (Luke 11:29-30). Therefore, the three days Jesus body lay in the tomb are a sign. []

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