Luke 2:41-52 tells the story about a time when Jesus, only 12 years old, stayed in Jerusalem to listen and learn from the religious leaders while His parents were searching for Him. When they found Him and His mother asked why His mother scolded Him for staying behind, He said this:
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Here was Jesus, at age 12, strategically and purposely putting Himself in a situation where He could learn and grow. Jesus had purposely positioned Himself in a place to gain spiritual wisdom, and when His mother questioned Him about that decision, Jesus made a distinction, perhaps for the first time, between His earthly father, Joseph, and His Heavenly Father. Mary said in verse 48, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father (“father” with a lowercase “f”) and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s (“Father’s” with a capital “F”) business?”
As Jesus was emerging into adulthood, (age 13 in the Jewish community) He was turning His attention to the growth needed to do the business for which He had been sent, and in that moment, the best preparation for that business was in the Temple where He could listen and ask questions.
What I want to drive home is that Jesus purposely placed Himself in the atmosphere that would be most conducive to prepare Him to do what the Heavenly Father had commissioned Him to do. He intentionally sought to learn about spiritual things. He said it was so important that He “must” do it. He was driven to know more about the things of God.
I have to believe that Jesus intended to grow in His relationship with His Heavenly Father through those three days in that Passover context. You see, Jesus couldn’t just walk to Jerusalem on a regular basis. It wasn’t convenient to get there. He had to make the most out of the opportunity to have access to the Temple teachers while He was there. There was something so pressing on Him and stirring in His heart that He needed extra time to process it.
Here is my big takeaway. If we are going to follow Jesus, we will put ourselves in the places and spaces with the people who can help us grow to the place where we can accomplish the Father’s Business when the times comes. If we believe we must be about our Father’s Business, we must prepare ourselves. Because Jesus was committed to the Father’s Business, He was determined to be prepared for it. It shaped the way He determined to grow with God and others (Luke 2:52).
As you think about what Jesus meant when He said He must be about His Father’s Business, I want you to think of the word “necessary.” Jesus was saying there were necessary conversations He had to have, necessary things He had to learn. There was a necessary reason why He stayed behind, why He committed extra time to being in the Temple. He didn’t just stay after church for a minute. He tarried three days! He stayed in the place of learning until He had answers, until His heart was satisfied.
Do we have a sense of urgency about necessary spiritual matters? Do we even know what they are? Are we committed to doing what is necessary in order to grow so that we can go when the call of God necessitates it? Are we making the most of every opportunity to ask questions, to study to show the Word of God (II Timothy 2:15) and to sit in the presence of those who have been called of God to teach? I want to call this the “Must Principle.” Are we compelled by the “Must” principle? Do our lives reflect this kind of spiritual focus and preparation?
I submit to you that Jesus could accomplish the hard things He was asked to do because He had conquered the necessary things along the way. He had drawn near to His Heavenly Father on purpose. He had studied the Scriptures. He had taken extended time alone to pray and spiritually refocus, and in that growing process, in the process of acquiring Heaven’s wisdom, He was able to move through the demands of His life deliberately with a perfect understanding of God’s eternal plan and perspective. And He knew what He had been called to do was going to be worth it. Because He got the necessary right, He could take on the hard and sacrificial assignments with ease.
My friends, there is a lot we are doing. There is a lot we can do, but I’m not sure that everything we are doing or could do is a “must.” Some of us want to tackle the hard stuff for the Kingdom, but we have never conquered the necessary. We haven’t acquired the basics. We haven’t sought to even know what the Father’s Business is. Many haven’t taken seriously the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:29-30 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
What have you been learning? How have you been seeking to know the Father’s Business for your life? As we learn what is necessary to know about Jesus and about the Word of God and about being a Christ-follower, then the tasks and burdens of life and the call of God will become lighter. Then the work of God becomes a delight. Then the preaching of the Gospel and even the moments of suffering, when we know they serve the purposes of God, become a joy. What I am trying to say is that the hard stuff becomes easy stuff when we have first done the necessary stuff. It is in that necessary drawing near to Christ through Bible reading, prayer, worship, meditation, and fasting that we gain the power needed for greater things.
I believe Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man because He stayed faithful to the necessary. There was a wholeness about the way He developed because He honored knowing and doing the will of God above all else. How can you position yourself in the places and spaces with the people who can help you press into the necessary in order that you can accomplish the supernatural will of God?