After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47
Ever known a gifted child? News of his extraordinary talent is hard to keep quiet. The news about him spreads quickly. “Have you heard about the child who lives near here? He’s amazing!” So was it difficult for Joseph and Mary to give Jesus a normal upbringing? Was he just one of the villager’s children? Scripture doesn’t say but as Michael Card encourages believers to read the Word with their God-given imaginations, we can wonder. In this one account from Luke, Jesus goes to the temple when He is twelve, asks a few questions, offers some insights in response, and the scholars are amazed.
How do you hide the Light of the world in a dark and oppressive Roman society? In Nazareth, there very well could have been stories among the villagers about Jesus. Though His first public miracle was at the wedding at Cana, did things happen earlier that could only have been explained by the word ‘miracle’? We’re not told but I find it interesting that Mary turned to Jesus at the wedding and casually asked if He would do something about the fact that the wine had run out.
This child, Jesus, was also divine. He was also the One who spoke the world into existence. How could His words have been common, even as One Incarnate? As He saw the broken world around Him, wouldn’t He have addressed it on more than one occasion? Surely He would have seen parents, brothers, and extended family members get sick. Surely there would have been demonic manifestations near Him in everyday life. I wonder if the presence of God, resident in Christ, caused cataclysmic reactions at various points in His childhood. It could be that God Himself veiled the eyes of those around the Christ child to protect His identity until it was time for Him to begin His ministry. But surely something extraordinary happened in the temple when Jesus was twelve. This we know ~ His divinity was on display that day.
What does all of this mean for us? When God gives a gift, there is no indication that it should be used indiscriminately. When God entrusts His disciple with spiritual abilities, they should remain inoperative until God says it’s time to use them. Thirty years of age is a long time for Jesus to wait to be released into public ministry. In God’s wisdom, there were thirty years of preparation for three years of ministry.
You and I may be aware of spiritual gifts that lie in waiting. We strain to exercise them and second-guess God’s wisdom of how long we must wait for the door of our calling to be opened. Could it be that God raises up a disciple for forty-five or fifty years before commissioning him/her to realize their usefulness? Could there be a lifetime of preparation for a few short years of ministry? Could destiny follow decades of obscurity? In God’s economy, yes. John the Baptist was a flash of Light but never, according to Jesus, did anyone burn brighter.
Oh, the mystery of Your ways. For every place that I wait for You, I submit to Your wisdom and timetable. Amen