VBS – Encounter at the Temple – Day 1


Our family recently went on a trip to the mountains—three generations of wild and crazy fun. I was still recovering from a recent surgery, so I opted to enjoy the beauty from my front porch rocking chair while the rest went for a hike in the woods. As they returned, the youngest came racing up to me, “Guess what we saw? It was an elk! And it was RIGHT THERE!” In a few moments the rest had gathered and young and old alike were telling of that moment with childlike enthusiasm. “I wish you could have been there!” The hike had taken a couple of hours, but those few unexpected moments were what changed a fun but ordinary day into a never-to-be-forgotten moment.

During VBS this week, our leaders will be sharing stories that appear to be simple words printed on the pages of your Bible. They will be brief moments to describe. But we have the opportunity to share how these snapshots, frozen on the pages of Scripture, are never-to-be-forgotten moments ordained by God. Each one gives us a glimpse into His amazing gift, His Son Jesus, who is the Savior of the world.

Today’s passage chronicles the first recorded words of Jesus. A lot of unanswered questions exist between the few tidbits we know of Jesus’ birth and early childhood and the twelve-year-old in today’s story. Luke, the writer of this Gospel, was obviously enthralled by the details of Jesus’ life. In fact, the word translated “amazed” or “astounded” is found thirteen times in the Book of Luke. It is also interesting to note that many scholars believe Mary, Jesus’ mother, was one of Luke’s sources of information. As a physician and acquaintance of Mary, it is not surprising that Luke’s Gospel includes some of the details of Jesus’ early life.
Traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival was an annual custom. The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem was about seventy miles. The average distance traveled per day may have been between twenty and twenty-five miles. So, this journey would have taken three or four days. The festival lasted a week, and then the return journey began. Families and friends generally traveled together for companionship as well as safety. As a twelve-year-old, Jesus was less than a year away from being considered an adult Jewish male. Under these circumstances it was probably easy to assume that Jesus was somewhere in the group of travelers. How Jesus ended up talking with the teachers at the temple or how long He had been there is unclear. However we do know that, at day’s end, His absence was discovered.

The Bible doesn’t tell us what Mary and Joseph said or thought as they retraced a day’s worth of travel and began the search through the large city. As a parent, I can only imagine the various waves of emotion that must have colored those hours. We see a hint of it in Mary’s first words to Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

Jesus answered with, “Why were you searching?” At this point Mary and Joseph seemed to be struggling with understanding the full meaning of who their Son was. However, by age twelve, Jesus indicated full awareness. He was in “His Father’s house.” This was not a put down to Joseph who had the earthly responsibility of serving as father. Jesus was acknowledging who He is. He is the Son of God.

Luke (most likely a Gentile) used carefully investigated facts presented in an orderly sequence to his friend, Theophilus, to shore up his friend’s belief with certainty (Luke 1:1-4). May Luke’s words do the same for us over two thousand years later. Pray that the Holy Spirit will shine a light on your path as you read God’s Word and may you encounter Jesus like never before.

1.Read John 6:38 (today’s bonus verse). What truths about Jesus do you find in this verse?
2.As you read today’s Bible passage what “snapshot” stood out to you? What was intriguing about it?
3.Before you can tell others about Jesus, it is important that you have had your own personal encounter with the Savior. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus to someone else?

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