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Learning from Jesus’s First Words

When Christ Speaks, We Should Be Ready to Listen

What Jesus says is important to us as his followers. The passages in the Bible that we need to pay the most attention to are the words of Jesus. Some Bibles even highlight Jesus’s words by putting them in red. We call these red-letter editions. People often focus on the final words of Jesus. But what about Jesus’s first words?

Let’s look at what the Bible records as Jesus’s first words. This doesn’t occur when he first learns to talk, and it’s not the first words he speaks when he begins his ministry. Jesus’s first words recorded in the Bible happen between these two times.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus

Jesus’s first recorded words occur when he’s twelve, and it’s the only story the Bible gives us about Jesus’s youth. In this account we see the balance between his divine side and his human side.

Jesus goes with his parents to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. When the festival ends, his parents head home, traveling with a group of others headed in that direction. They assume Jesus is with the caravan. He isn’t. He stays behind without their knowledge.

After traveling all day, Mary and Joseph discover that Jesus is missing. They’ve lost their son, one of a parent’s most dreaded nightmares. Yet for them it’s even worse. They also lost the Son of God.

Panicked they head back to Jerusalem. They search. And they search. After three days they finally find him.

He’s in the temple having a deep spiritual conversation with the religious teachers. He listens to what they say and asks insightful questions. The twelve-year-old amazes everyone with his depth of understanding.

His parents are astonished too. Yet they’re also irritated with him for causing them needless worry.

Jesus’s First Words

Young Jesus responds incredulously. “Why were you searching for me?” he asks. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).

These are the first recorded words of Jesus.

From the perspective of tween Jesus, his parents shouldn’t have spent three days looking for him. The temple should have been their first stop. In his mind, it was a given. In their mind, it was the last place they expected to find their twelve-year-old son.

Jesus doesn’t address the fact that he didn’t head home with them and caused them untold worry for three days. Like many who aren’t yet fully mature, he knew he was safe, so there was nothing for anyone to worry about.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? Click To Tweet

The human side of Jesus missed spending time with his Father, Father God. The temple may have been where he best felt he could make a spiritual connection with Papa. It was also an ideal place to find other like-minded Jews who could teach him about Scripture and guide him forward on his spiritual journey.

But Jesus’s parents don’t understand what he means. Regardless Jesus obediently returns home with them. He grows in wisdom and stature, enjoying the favor of both God and men. This prepares him for ministry, which he’ll start in eighteen years, when he’s thirty years old.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? When our friends look for us, where will they find us?

Discover more about Jesus in Peter’s upcoming book, The Advent of Jesus, which will release in October 2022.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

One reply on “Learning from Jesus’s First Words”

in Luke’s Gospel, Luke tells a story of when Jesus was 12 years old. Jesus’ mother and father have lost sight of Jesus. Many parents today have also lost sight of Jesus and they are frantic, lest their dearly loved 12 year old son or daughter die. Luke’s story in chapter 2 reveals how Jesus as a young boy learned the scriptures and prepared himself for his future ministry. In chapter 8, Luke tells another story of a 12 year old girl who has died. This story is linked with the story of a woman who had been menstruating for 12 years non-stop. 12 year old children are at the age when they die to childhood and emerge as adults. Many young adults today are fearful of their future. Many young adults do not see themselves as future Mothers and Fathers with a ministry to build up an eternal kingdom of God that honours the Father for carrying his chosen Cross over the THRESHOLD. Many young women and men trust Science and their own ability to build a career or get a steady financially rewarding job that allows them the freedom to enjoy and protect creation from the stink of COAL and oil spills from alabaster container ships. And yet, like the Woman Jesus called Mary and the Man Jesus called Simon the black stone we need not despair. We mature Christians need to go to church (two by two, hand in hand) and talk and sing with these young adults or invite them into our homes and guide them and help them learn from their mistakes or those of others while they seek the GIFT OF GOD and discern who Jesus the Teacher is and who Christ the Bridegroom is…as did the Woman the Greeks call Photini (John 4:10).

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