A Call to Stand Apart


Chapter 2—Jesus as a Child and Young Adult

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:40-52. AC 16.1

From their earliest years, Jewish children were surrounded by rabbis and their rigid rules for everything down to the smallest detail. But Jesus didn’t show any interest in those ways. From childhood He acted independently from such restrictions. He constantly studied the Old Testament and gradually became aware of the spiritual condition of the people in His village. He observed that the standards of society and the standards of God were in constant conflict. People would forget God’s words and observe their own traditions that had no value.10The Desire of Ages, 84. AC 16.2

In His gentle way Jesus tried to please those around Him. The scribes misunderstood this gentleness and assumed He would be easily influenced by their teachings. But when they questioned Him, He asked for their authority from the Bible. He seemed to know the Scriptures from beginning to end. The rabbis were ashamed of being instructed by a child and indignant at His opposition. They soon realized that Jesus’ spiritual understanding was far beyond theirs.11Ibid., 85. AC 17.1

At a very early age Jesus began to act for Himself in the formation of character, and not even respect and love for His parents could turn Him from obedience to God. The words of Scripture became the reason for everything He did that was different from the family’s customs. His brothers, Joseph’s sons, sided with the rabbis, insisting that traditions had to be followed the same as the laws of God. They called Jesus’ strict obedience to the laws of God “stubbornness.” They were astounded at His knowledge and wisdom when answering the rabbis and recognized that His education had to come from a higher source than theirs.12Ibid., 86. AC 17.2

There were some who wanted to be friends with Jesus because they felt at peace with Him; but more of His peers avoided Him because they felt condemned by such a pure life. He was bright and cheerful; His friends enjoyed His company and welcomed His suggestions. But they were impatient with His scruples and called Him narrow and straitlaced.13Ibid., 89. AC 17.3

Jesus’ choices were a continuous mystery to His parents from the time they found Him in the temple at age 12. For example, His happiest hours were spent alone with nature and with God. Early in the morning He would go to a quiet place to meditate, read the Bible, and pray. Then He would return home to do the family chores. He loved to help suffering persons, and even suffering animals.14Ibid., 89, 90. AC 17.4

Jesus found value in every person. He went out of His way to speak kind words of encouragement to sick, oppressed, and discouraged persons. Sometimes He even gave hungry people His own lunch. He tried to bring the hope of spiritual victory and the assurance of being part of God’s family to everyone, including the rough and unpromising. Jesus never contended for His own rights, even though He was harassed and was often treated unfairly.15Ibid., 87-91. AC 18.1

At times His mother Mary wavered between Jesus and His brothers, who didn’t believe Jesus had been sent from God. But they could hardly deny His divine character or the fact that His presence brought a pure atmosphere into their home.16Ibid., 90. AC 18.2