The Sounds of Silence
The Sounds of Silence
Pastor Mick Finch / General
Living In Between / Childhood; Silence / Luke 2:41–52
Thinking about Jesus’ silent years reminds us how God works slowly in us.
The Lectionary for this Sunday combines two stories of young boys growing up in the Lords’ service. One boy is Samuel the other is Jesus.
Samuel grows up in service to God.
Samuel’s mother Hannah was barren. Every year she and her husband would go to Shiloh and make their annual offering at the Tabernacle. Hannah prayed to God that He grant her a son. Hannah promised that when she had a son she would dedicate him to serve the Lord at the Tabernacle. As the story goes God did give Hannah a son. She named him Samuel which mens “Heard by God”.
When Samuel was weaned Hannah fulfilled her promise to God and took her son to Shiloh to serve under Eli the Chief Priest at the Tabernacle. Each year at the annual offering Hannah would bring Samuel a new outer cloak to wear. This is what the Scripture tells us in this story:
1 Samuel 2:18–20 CEB
18 Now Samuel was serving the Lord. He was a young boy, clothed in a linen priestly vest.19 His mother would make a small robe for him and take it to him every year when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the Lord replace the child of this woman that you gave back to the Lord.” Then they would return home.
1 Samuel 2:26 CEB
26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel kept growing up and was more and more liked by both the Lord and the people.
Samuel the boy followed his mother’s instructions. He remained at the Tabernacle and followed the instructions and teachings of Eli the Chief Priest. Every year Samuel would see his mother and receive a new robe she had made for him. The result of his faithful service at the Tabernacle was that “he grew up and was more liked by the Lord and the people he served”.
The Lectionary uses the story of Samuel’s growing up years in service to the Lord as the backdrop to the story of the twelve year old Jesus. No doubt Luke was familiar with the story of Samuel and Luke incorporates this into the story of Jesus’ youth.
The Silent Years
The Gospels provide almost no information about the years before Jesus’ ministry begins. Mark tells us nothing about Jesus’ birth or youth. John provides no information about Jesus’ childhood. Matthew gives us the story of Jesus’ birth and the Wise Men and the flight into Egypt. But no more about Jesus’ growing up years.
The Gospels leave the growing up years to our own imagination. I have so many questions.
When did Jesus realize that He was God’s anointed one?
When did Jesus find out He had unique powers revealed through His faith?
What did Mary share with Him about his unique birth story?
Did the young Jesus struggle with coming to grips with His own identity?
The only story we are given about one incident in Jesus’ early years comes from Luke Chapter 2.
Luke 2:41–44 CEB
41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. 43 After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. 44 Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends.
Like Hannah, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem Temple for the annual Passover Feast. From the age of three or so Jesus would have made the journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Todays story occurs when Jesus was twelve.
I must make a statement about Jesus’ age at this point. Twelve years of age was the year that a Jewish boy became a man. At twelve Jesus would have no longer been considered a child. At twelve he would have started learning and assisting Joseph in work and making money for the family. Jesus would have reached the age where he should be able to look after himself.
So it should not shock us that mon and dad did not see Jesus with them when they left Jerusalem. And it was not until the evening meal at the end of the first day of travel that they noticed he was not traveling with them. The absence caused concern for His well-being. I want us to understand that the age of twelve for a boy then is not like twelve year boy now. That is why Jesus went out on His own and stayed back at the Temple, He was an adult now.
Still mom and dad were concerned as we will see in Mary’s remarks at the absence of Jesus without Him telling them what his plans were.
The story goes on:
Luke 2:45–51 CEB
45 When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were shocked. His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!” 49 Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he said to them. 51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart.
Regardless what the age of Jesus, Mary was obviously worried about her sons well-being. You can see Mary and Joseph searching that places they had been when in Jerusalem to see if they could find their son. Kind of like when you misplace your car keys and you try to remember where you had seen them last.
Finally after three days they go to the Temple and there Jesus is sitting with the scribes and teachers of the Law. Mary’s comments are echoed in every mother’s worry for a child.
“Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen your father and I have been worried.” Sound familiar. Here we have a very ordinary confrontation between a young adult and their parents. “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” That comment to my dad would have been where he grounded me for talking back to my mother.
The end of this story from Luke:
Luke 2:51–52 CEB
51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. 52 Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.
Like the story about Samuel who remained at the Tabernacle and was obedient to his mother’s wishes. And Samuel brew in maturity and grew in favor with God and the people.
Jesus realizing that He had been a little out of line based on the concern of Mary in her love for her son return to Nazareth and is obedient to mom and dad. And for another eighteen years he works to help support the family. When Joseph dies Jesus takes up the role of main bread winner. Jesus stays obedient to family traditions.
The result like the story about Samuel, Luke writes that Jesus matured in wisdom and in favor of God and with people.
Our Faithful Obedience
The revelation from Scripture comes to us. No matter what our age we are to remain obedient to God in our faithful service to Him and each other. In doing so we will become more mature in our wisdom. Even when we have reached a mature age, our excitement for life is when we use our energy to continue in that maturity. We are always on a path to the destination that God has chosen for us. In our faithful obedience to God we will grow in His favor and with the people.
Amen and Amen.