Jesus and the Temple


John 2:46–50 (NIV)

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.


It is my opinion that Jesus lived the most remarkable life that has ever been lived. Nearly everything that we know about this life comes to us through the Gospel accounts. We have a substantial amount of information regarding his brief but truly awesome ministry. We have a few stories regarding his infancy. Of his childhood, we have only this single story from Luke 2. It’s quite a story though. The boy Jesus has apparently spent the better part of several days sitting among the scholars in the temple. He impressed them with his answers, but also asked questions and listened carefully to the replies. This was all done to the great bewilderment of his very concerned parents.

When I read this story of the twelve-year-old Jesus, sitting in humility and absorbing the wisdom of the sages, I can’t help but flash forward to a very different scene toward the end of Jesus’s earthly life. This Jesus who sat contemplatively among the scholars of the temple would one day come unglued within the confines of that very same temple. I wonder if there were any folks who got to witness both events . . . if any of these teachers who were impressed by the dignified intelligence of this very special young man were also there when he started tossing tables and spilling coins. If so, they must have sincerely wondered what had happened to him.

I think these two temple events go together in a very important way. Putting them side by side, we see a Jesus who slowly internalized the religion of his people. He questioned it, he pondered it, and he applied himself to walking by its light. But over time, Jesus came to some radical conclusions. Some of these conclusions led him to make a rather sudden break with establishment Judaism. By the time his official ministry began, Jesus had cast his lot with the prophets. His final incident in the temple was the culmination of this change. There were aspects of the temple system and of its oppressive hierarchy that Jesus flatly rejected, and he let everybody know it.

Like everyone, Jesus had to get there in his own way and in his own time. But when he got there, it was a sight to behold. As it has been said, Jesus was more than a prophet, but he was never less than a prophet. He followed in the footsteps of the prophets and yet fulfilled their words at the same time. His words and his actions were perfectly on time because he took his time. His most radical actions emerged from a deeply cultivated disposition of inquisitive humility.


Make us like Jesus.


Is it your tendency to lash out before listening? How can you cultivate Jesus’s pattern of listening long before lashing, of weeping before whipping? If listening and learning from others comes naturally to you, are you willing to speak plainly when the moment arrives?

For the Awakening,
Josh LeRoy

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I don’t believe that any of us can know with any certainty at what point Jesus was made fully aware-concerning His ultimate role in by His incarnation. We can assume that by the time the first temple encounter occurred, that Jesus knew that His true Father was God, therefore, He was probably also aware of Moses prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” By the time of His baptism, Jesus was not only aware of who He was, and why He was sent, but also was at that time empowered by the Spirit in order to fulfill His mission.

  2. Do we react or respond?
    *One is emotional, boomerang, and pride-driven. Throwing back what was tossed our way. Usually, with more zeal. They throw a rock; we pick up a handful.
    *The other is spiritually activated. They throw a rock; we throw back love, compassion and peace.
    One takes self-control, and the other is out of control.
    Can you tell which definition is reacting and which is a response?
    Not that they’re necessary, but here’s a couple of clues.

    Luke 6:31
    And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
    Ephesians 4:32
    Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    Staying 💪’n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

  3. Speaking Plainly in the Moment

    Is the Father’s business.
    That’s what Jesus
    Was all about.
    He bought it
    With His blood
    So He can now remove
    The stones from human hearts
    And tenderly replace
    Them with His grace.

    Let your heart
    Be His house,
    A nursery
    For God’s mercy.
    Learn to forgive
    And be forgiven
    So Christ’s garden
    Can be found
    Flourishing on
    What was once
    Stoney ground
    And the fruit
    Of His Spirit
    May always abound
    Within you.

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