Have you noticed that when you meet someone for the first time at work, you and they give away clues about your backstory?
Humor, habits, skills, mannerisms, words and expressions all give windows into the past. What, at first, is a closed book opens up. What, initially, were silent years, start to speak.
It is widely said, that in the life of Jesus, the Son of Man, there are 18 silent years between his twelfth and thirtieth years.
At twelve he showed his amazing insight, astonishing all around him in the Jerusalem Passover season, then we next meet him as his public persona emerges following on from John the Baptiser, beginning to gather his team.
The 18 years are contained in the tiny gap on the page between Luke chapter 2 and 3.
But they are definitely not silent. Towards the end of the second chapter, Luke gives us a whole catalogue of facts, windows, if you like, which reveal a powerful story.
First up is this. Jesus’ parents did not understand him. Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus called “the misunderstood one” but that was a huge part of his experience. People just didn’t get him. Even those close to him found themselves mystified by him. Before you unsubscribe, ask yourself “do I really understand him?” It would be really arrogant of any of us to think that we understand, we just get glimpses, then more glimpses.
Jesus lived all his life being misunderstood. How could a twelve year old confound the Sanhedrin debating chamber? Joseph and Mary, not for the first time, found themselves in the ranks of millions of parents, while Jesus found himself with millions of teenagers in a relationship of misunderstandings.
I don’t know how many teenagers read Worktalk Weekly but, however misunderstood you feel, Jesus knows that feeling.
Luke’s other nine windows or clues show you a profound biography. I will list them for you as we will visit them again.
2. He went down to Nazareth
3. With them
4. He was obedient to them
5. His mother treasured all things in her heart
6. Jesus grew
7. Jesus grew wiser
8. Jesus grew in size
9. Jesus grew in favour with God
10. Jesus grew in favour with people
There (along with the misunderstood part which would be number 1) is the story of the 18 years.
I will make just a few points because we will come back to this journey. Notice that Jesus left Jerusalem, went to Nazareth and obeyed. Despite already being in possession of advanced insight, way beyond his peers, parents and contemporaries he placed himself within their care and authority.
Please try to see it from the point of view of his inner life. The temptation to rebel must have been immense. If you’ve been around someone who has been labelled “a gifted child” or “a precocious talent”, you will see them straining to conform or struggling to hold back.
Here, in this Nazareth home, a 12 year old boy must have wrestled every day with the ability to disobey and the discipline to obey.
I want to invite you to reflect on his self-control when, for example, you lose your patience with someone less gifted than yourself, you are tempted to lash out at incompetence, you are exasperated by the slower child in your class or co-worker in your team.
The Son of Man himself learned to obey people who loved him, but people who did not understand him. He would work every day of his life with people less powerful or less gifted than himself.
This same power is now available to you – because of his journey. Those silent years contain amazing eloquence if you will listen.
50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
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