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Luke 2:41-52

  • Did you ever get lost or run away as a kid? What happened? How did you parent(s) react?

Read Luke 2:41-52 [1]

  • How did Jesus' parents react to him staying behind? Does their reaction surprise you?

  • Why did Jesus think it was important to spend time at the temple courts?

  • Look closely at Mary's words in verse 48 with Jesus' response in verse 49. What do you notice?

  • Verses 51-52 describe the subsequent relationship between Jesus and Mary and Joseph. How do you think Jesus saw his earthly parents vs. his relationship with his heavenly father?

Read Luke 14:25-27

  • Jesus here is using hyperbole - Jesus always preached love (even for our enemies) so he clearly isn't telling us to literally hate our families or ourselves. So what is he getting at here?

  • What does it mean to put all these important relationships a distant second to our relationship with Jesus? [2]

  • In this context, how should we love our fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, brothers, sisters, and even ourselves? Does complete loyalty to Jesus mean we should neglect these relationships? Why/why not?

  • Can you think of any practical examples of people giving complete whole-hearted devotion to Jesus (even over devotion to family)? (Try to think of examples you've heard of or even examples from your own life).

Spend some time in quiet reflection. Offer up these people and these relationships to God, and ask Him to show you how to love them rightly through Jesus 'the Mediator'.

[1] N.T. Wright gives some helpful historical context to the events in this story:

"Perhaps the first remarkable thing about this story is that Mary and Joseph were happy to set off with their large group from Galilee without checking that Jesus was with them. That tells us a lot about the kind of world they lived in, where extended families of kinsfolk and friends lived together in close-knit mutual trust. But, by the same token, once they had left Jerusalem, and when they returned to it by themselves, without the rest of the party, the city was a large and potentially dangerous place, full of dark alleys and strange people, soldiers and traders, not a place where one would be happy to leave one’s son for a few days.."

Leon Morris also explains:

Jesus was twelve years old. It was at thirteen years of age that a Jewish boy could become a ‘son of the commandment’ or full member of the synagogue... In a large ‘caravan’ parents might well not know where a child was... The women and small children went ahead and the men followed with the bigger boys. Joseph and Mary may each have thought that Jesus was with the other.

[2] Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrestles with this passage in The Cost of Discipleship:

Why it this necessary? Why are we not allowed to grow slowly, gradually, uninterruptedly in progressive sanctification out of the natural order into the fellowship of Christ? What is this power which so angrily comes between a man and the natural life in which it had pleased God to place him? Surely such a breach with the past is a legalistic technique and surly contempt for the good gifts of God, a technique far removed from the ‘liberty of the Christian man'? We must face up to the truth that the call of Christ does set up a barrier between man and his natural life. But this barrier is no surly contempt for life, no legalistic piety, it is the life which is life indeed, the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ. By virtue of his incarnation he has come between man and his natural life. There can be no turning back, for Christ bars the way. By calling us he has cut us off from all immediacy with the things of this world. He wants to be the centre, through him alone all things shall come to pass. He stands between us and God, and for that very reason he stands between us and all other men and things. He is the Mediator, not only between God and man, but between man and man, between man and reality.


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