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And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” – Luke 2:49 (NKJV)

You know the story. Jesus had gone to Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary for the Passover, quite likely for His first time. When it came time to return to Nazareth, Jesus stayed behind while Joseph and Mary went a day’s journey “supposing Him to have been in the company.” At day’s end, they looked for Him but did not find Him among the relatives and friends.

Distraught, they returned to Jerusalem where they found Jesus in the temple with the rabbis there. He was asking questions – and amazing those who heard Him as He answered questions put to Him.

Mary rebuked Him:

Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.

That is when He replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Many of the more recent translations, including the NIV and ESV, here have “in  my Father’s house” instead of “about My Father’s business.” Actually, the Greek text does not have either “house” or “business.” These are supplied by the translators because of the Greek idiom.

The literal translations have something like “in the things of my Father.” The actual Greek construction is the plural article the followed by of the father of me. (tois tou patros mou). Because the article introducing the phrase is plural, in the things of my Father or about my Father’s business are preferable to in my Father’s house. House is singular and quite specific. Things or business are more generic and retain the plural idea.

What did Jesus mean by that statement?

To understand what He meant, we need to look at what He was doing and where He was doing it. He was in the Temple with the teachers of the Law. I hardly think they were discussing the prospects of the Jerusalem team in the World Cup soccer tournament! They were discussing the business of the Temple – which was the business of Jesus’ Father, Jehovah God.

All of Jesus’ life, He was about His Father’s business. When He came to John to be baptized, and John objected, Jesus said:

Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. – Matthew 3:15 (NKJV)

Whatever He meant by that, it was certainly about God’s business.

Wherever He went, whatever He did or said, He was about His Father’s business.

He teaches us that we are to be like Him. We are to follow Him in our lives.

We are following Him when we discuss the Scriptures. We are about the Father’s business when we, in the name of Jesus, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit those sick or in prison, and clothe the naked. We are following Jesus in being about the Father’s business when we comfort the broken-hearted and bring hope to the hopeless who are without God in this world.

We are about the Father’s business when we are letting the light of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus be seen in us.

At Eastern European Mission, as we are discussing what we are doing and the opportunities that God is giving to us, we have a common expression: “It’s a God-thing.”

By this we mean that this is something we are not able to do on our own, but that God is at work through us in His work of redemption.

How do I, in my personal life and habits, measure up to what Jesus did? How do I do in being “about my Father’s business”?

Like most church members, I do reasonably well in discussing the Scripture when I am in “church.” In that, I am following the pre-adolescent Jesus, Jesus as a boy. The 2nd chapter of Luke, though, concludes:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

He amazed people with His questions and answers when He was twelve – but He did not rest on His laurels at that achievement. He grew. In His growth, He showed Himself to be a servant of all.

Am I content to follow the boy Jesus without becoming the servant of all? Am I content merely to discuss the Scriptures without letting them live in me?

Matt Dabbs in his blog, Kingdom Living, has had three recent posts in which he describes a change in the way his class of young adults is conducting its sessions. Instead of just talking about Scripture, “asking and answering questions,” they are engaging in practical ministry. You can read those articles here, here, and here.

I think Matt is on to something important. It is not enough for us to follow the boy Jesus. We also need to follow Him as a man – even to the point of bearing our cross to walk in His steps.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks Jerry. I think the church just needs an outlet for service. Wherever the church finds the best for that is fine. But if we just hope things will happen and we just go about our business with no plan then we are going to miss some tremendous opportunities.

    • Matt, you are very welcome! I was thinking along these lines for a sermon for yesterday before I saw your posts referenced at the end of my post above. Your comments fertilized and nurtured my previous thoughts. I hope this will be useful to some folks.

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