Twelve Years Old
Updated: May 3, 2019
Written By: David Shipley
Devo, The Family's Corner
Recently, I was invited to a Bar Canon.
"Bar" means “under” or “son” of the Biblical canon. In other words, it was a coming of age celebration for a young man entering his teenage years.
The celebration looked like a birthday: burgers, cake & soda. Still, it was more. There were no material gifts. This Christian family invited men from their boy’s life to share a blessing and wisdom. That was the gift. There were uncles, a grandpa, his father, a mentor from Trail Life and me, a minister.
I was blessed to hear the father speak to us about his son in the presence of his son. It was, I’m sure, affirming and challenging as the son to hear his father’s words.
“Real living is conscious effort to go upward to larger life. If you are making no effort in your life, if you are moving in the line of least resistance, depend upon it you are going downward…
“Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful, unselfish souls who are carrying the community burdens and pushing upward. Note the multitude making little or no effort, and even getting in the way of the pushers.
“…It is the brave minority of thinking, self-sacrificing people that decides the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not willing to make the effort to rule themselves. They are content to drift and be amused and follow false gods that promise something for nothing.”
In Luke 2:41-52, Jesus’ parents inadvertently leave Him in Jerusalem. This is the only story we have of Jesus’ boyhood. As is frequently the case in parenting, the more embarrassing or harrowing experiences are the ones we remember most.
Joseph and Mary were a faithful religious family. At the age of twelve, Jesus adds to this faithfulness a sense of urgency and curiosity. He says: “…I must be in my Father’s house…”. Indeed, “real living is conscious effort”. While salvation is never earned, spiritual growth demands our own sense of urgency and curiosity.
At twelve, Jesus survived on His own for at least three days. Was it fun? Frightening? What did he eat? Where did he sleep? What was his bedtime? Did he bathe? Responsibly living alone for three days at twelve years old was Jesus' platform for the astonishing spiritual display of humility and wisdom in this passage.
A third observation. I believe Jesus always trusted His true Sonship with His heavenly Father, Nevertheless, He does what's needed to keep a connection to home. As a college student, I struggled to call home just once per week. As an adult, I see more clearly that keeping that connection is a way to honor parents regardless of age.
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--David S. (aka Mr. Shipley)