A Holy Example


Luke 2:49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”


Jesus had gone with his parents to Jerusalem to participate in the religious festival. It is here that we get a glimpse of the sanctified twelve year old, already providing for humanity a vision of life in the kingdom. Jesus is preparing a holy highway for those who will follow after him and giving us various snapshots of the holy life. His entire life becomes a holy example for us to follow.

What Jesus provides for us is total transformation as children adopted into his family. We are to take on the family resemblance and this brings us back to Jesus as a twelve year old.

From an early age Jesus was aware of the intimate relationship between himself and God as his heavenly Father. He realized that this relationship was of utmost importance and was to be the priority of his life. While this was the case, he did obey his parents and it is in this that we find his humility. The greater became subject to the lesser — Jesus subjected himself to the leading of Joseph and Mary. He revealed humility which was appropriate for a twelve-year old!

The entire incident is also an anticipation of the resurrection narrative and the three days in which he will be “lost” — and those who love him won’t understand or know where he has gone.

When Jesus is found by Joseph and Mary he is in the midst of teachers where he, this boy, is sanctifying and instructing them — by asking them questions. The questions are appropriate for a twelve year old boy to be asking because it reveals a lack of arrogance on his part. At the same time we already see Jesus’ teaching style where, by his questions, he is really probing the doctrinal understandings of the religious leaders. He was asking questions but also providing answers, an example of holy wisdom, knowing what to ask and what to answer. This was to be a foundational education for him as he would later be able to reveal the kingdom to those who were willing to listen.

And this becomes for us just a little glimpse of what it means to be a sanctified twelve-year-old. A holy example for you and for me.


What can we take from Jesus’ holy example?

Even at a very young age we may begin to understand the mysteries of partaking in the divine nature. This is not just something for the wise and aged, but instead, is God’s intention for us all - to be his holy people! Why do we wait to talk about these kinds of spiritual depths until people are older? May this should be the common conversation for Christ-followers, that God’s intention is for all of humanity to be intimately related to him, united with him, and growing as holy children.

Jesus learned obedience to the kingdom and the structures of this world. The holy life is not about chaos, but about order. This was reflected in Jesus’ daily life as well as his later preaching life. Not too much is written about these early years which would lead us to be that they are rather ordinary. Leading a holy life on a daily basis can be a part of the ordinary. Not everyone is called to do the extraordinary, but instead may be challenged to live the holy life in what may seem as the regular routine of life. The reality, however, is that nothing is truly routine when it is united with God.

Looking back there really was nothing routine about those early years of Jesus’ life for nothing is wasted on God. Everything he was doing was pointing in the direction of a new life lived in God. This included his desire to learn and to teach. Our passion to know God and share him with others comes to us from Jesus himself. When we know him intimately we want to ask more and more questions, getting to know him on a level that simply overflows to the world around us.

Yes, he was just a little boy who seemed to have strayed away from his dad and mom but so much more was happening. The potential wrapped up in that little boy is the holy example for us to follow. Paul said to follow him as he followed Christ. We are challenged to follow in the footsteps of a holy pre-adolescent who ultimately changed the world.


Lord, may I follow you and your holy example.  Amen.


  1. "The greater became subject to the lesser" is indeed an important lesson in humility. We sometimes find ourselves in situations where we have more knowledge or experience than those in authority. Rather than undermining their position by asserting ourselves in a way that can be harmful, we should choose to "lead from behind" for the edification of the relationship and the growth of the person holding the official leadership role.


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