We may be curious about Jesus’ early years and what his life was like growing up, but the inspired Scriptures are largely silent on the issue. Only this account in Luke is given.
Luk 2:41-52 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. (42) And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. (43) And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, (44) but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, (45) and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. (46) After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (47) And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (48) And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” (49) And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (50) And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. (51) And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. (52) And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
The story reveals both Jesus’ normalcy as a boy transitioning to a young man and his special relationship with God the Father. It was the custom of the family to travel to Jerusalem for the annual religious feasts. They had come for the Passover celebration and feast of unleavened bread that followed. They had likely travelled with many friends and relatives and the men and women were usually separated. Jesus was guilty of no insubordination or sinful disrespect of his parents authority in his life, we know this because we are told of Jesus in Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
It was a simple misunderstanding on the part of his parents, each assuming he was with the other. When they realized he was not with them they rushed back to find him. For his part, Jesus had done the responsible thing for any child to do when left by his parents. He had gone to a public place with trusted adults that was a likely place for his parents to come looking and he waited. As he waited he humble sat as a student under the teaching of the priests and scribes. Yet, he asked questions of them which were filled with such insight that those religious authorities were amazed by him.
When Mary arrived and found Jesus she misplaced the blame, as we often do, and put the wrong on Jesus. His replay is not communicating any disrespect but does remind them that he is the diving Son of God as well as their son on earth. He returned home with them and submitted to their authority in accordance with the law of God. And the mystery of his divinity and humanity is expressed as he grows in wisdom and stature. The all knowing grows in wisdom. The all powerful grows in stature. He grows up like a man and with the favor of man. But unlike men he grows up with the favor of God. It is for this purpose he has come from God. He has come to unite with frail humanity and lead them back to God’s favor.