Just as Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas every year, so Jesus and his family—along with their relatives and friends—celebrated Passover every year.
It was a big to-do.
Each spring in the Hebrew month of Nisan they trekked from their home in Nazareth up to Jerusalem for the seven-day festival of Passover.
One year, as Jesus was approaching manhood by traditional Jewish calculation, “when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.” They may have gone up as usual but they didn’t come back as usual. The rest of the family headed home but unbeknownst to them Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, without even a word.
What Mary and Joseph would’ve given for a cell phone and a text message!
Without any digital advantage however, his parents were worried sick. They turned around mid-journey and finally located Jesus in the Temple. They weren’t that happy about it either. Mary scolds Jesus who was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Apparently, they were also asking Jesus questions because the teachers “were amazed at his understanding and answers.” Jesus, unfazed, wonders why his parents were searching for him. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” His parents were as baffled by his actions and his response as Jesus was by their anxiety.
If this story is any indication, Mary and Joseph definitely trained up their child in the way he should go. He loved God, loved Torah, and loved learning—all pluses in the Jewish world view. As the years went by, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.” Mary and Joseph did a good job raising Jesus as a faithful Jew. But as parents know all too well, not every kid keeps the faith. What about Jesus? Did he take it on as his own as he grew up? Or did he leave it behind and become a Christian?
(Excerpt from The Jew Named Jesus, p 27-28, Rebekah Simon-Peter, Abingdon Press, 2013)