I can remember the challenge of those days of rounding up 4 young children and getting them ready for anything let alone church attendance. It was even more challenging in our home because the burden fell on my wife. My duties as the Pastor required me to be there early and stay later. There were days that all the stuff required made us consider if it was really worth the effort. Looking back on those day, both my wife and I would say, the effort was worth it!
This past Sunday we launched a new sermon series called, Life Lessons, that is based on select accounts from the life of Jesus. Our goal is to allow the gospel accounts to teach us lessons on living. This week we looked at the account of Jesus as a twelve year old boy getting left behind at the Passover feast. His parents did not realize that He was missing until they had spent a whole day traveling home. I would assume that most parents have a similar story. The focus of the message was on being intentional in our Spiritual lives, meaning we Live by Purpose. (Listen here). My focus today is on the powerful example of Joseph and Mary, that I gleaned from my study of the account. I hope it will be an encouragement to all followers of Jesus struggling to integrate the family with the practices of the Christian life.
The first observation that I want to share is that Joseph and Mary were intentional about living out their faith with children. I am reading a little between the lines, but I believe a couple statements support this. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.” (Luke 2:41–42) It is not hard to imagine a couple that was faithful in practicing their faith. We would have every reason to believe that what is said here also applies to their weekly involvement in their local synagogue. These passing comments remind me that Joseph and Mary were intentional about their faith.
A second observation is gleaned by pulling together other information about their family. We know from the passage that Jesus was 12 years old. If we do a little math assuming that Mary had Jesus when she was around 16 years old that would mean that Joseph and Mary at this time were in their late twenties. I think this information is an encouragement to parents of young children to be intentional about practicing their faith for their children to observe.
A third observation reminds us that being intentional is not always convenient or easy. For another account we know that Jesus was not the only child but that that Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters as younger siblings. It is not hard to imagine that Joseph and Mary may have had six or seven children at the time of this account. It is possible that Mary was caring for a baby and may have had several in diapers. This helps us to understand a bit of how Jesus, who was responsible, would have been missed for a day. It could have been assumed that he was just hanging out with his cousins. What stands out to me is that Joseph and Mary were intentional in spite of the family responsibilities. They had many reason to not make this annual trip but they did. I believe that they modeled for Jesus how to Live by Purpose.
It has been said that our children learn more from our actions than our words. I believe there is much truth in that statement to challenge us to faithfully model the practice of our faith in action while we are raising our family.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson