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Awakenings

Do You Understand Me?

“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.”     Luke 2: 41-51

How well do you think your parents understood you when you were growing up?  How well did you understand them?

In the four Gospel accounts, only Luke mentions Jesus’ childhood.  He gives us a sparse description, saying only that the boy Jesus grew and became strong.  This boy Jesus was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God.

But He was indeed a child, and grew, as children do, in stature and in wisdom.
And His mom Mary watched him.  She “stored” what she already knew about Him and what she was learning about Him in her heart.  She watched Him learn His trade from his earthly father Joseph.  She watched as He grew up in anonymity in the out of the way town they lived in.  She watched.  She wondered.  She waited.
Why aren’t we given more detail of Jesus’ years growing up?  Probably because they were very similar to our growing up years.  They were a time of learning and preparation.   We would probably be a little disappointed if we knew more about them, because they would be a so parallel to our own.

That’s the key.
He experienced the same life stages, and experiences, and challenges that we do.  He grew, He learned, He loved, He felt disappointment, He felt sorrow, He laughed, He loved.  He cared for His mother and siblings as the oldest son, after the death of Joseph.  Someone must have paid Him wage. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have been able to take care of them.

He understands us.
He doesn’t relate to us as a distant and detached deity.  He gets our pain, because he has experienced pain.  He relishes our joy, because He knows joy.  He knows what it is to be misunderstood and maligned.  He knows what it is to give and receive love.

At Christmas, we sing of Immanuel, the truth that “God (is now) with us.”  During Lent, we reflect on the truth that He understands us, because He became one of us.  On Easter, we celebrate the truth that in every way He positioned Himself perfectly to redeem us.

The author of Hebrews encourages us this way (italics mine):

” So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (New Living Translation)Squinty boy

As we continue the move toward the Resurrection, may you continue to move closer and closer to the One who loves you completely and unceasingly, because he understands your life so intimately.

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About Bill Todd

Bill Todd is a spiritual director and speaker living in Franklin TN. He is patiently loved by Jody Todd, and their children Kaleigh, Hannah, and Liam.

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