A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Jesus as a boy


Mary and Joseph brought up their young son Jesus in their home town of Nazareth. There, he spent his childhood with the other village children. Every year, his parents took him to the Temple in Jerusalem, with their family and friends, for the great Feast of the Passover.

When Jesus was twelve, the family celebrated as usual and then set off on the trek home. Mary assumed that Jesus, on the threshold of manhood, had chosen to travel with his father in the men’s group. Joseph assumed he was still with his mother. So they did not realise that Jesus was not with either party until the end of the first day’s travel. They hurried back to Jerusalem and spent three long, anxious days looking for him.

Jesus in the templeFinally, they found Jesus – in the courts of the Temple, listening to some of the most learned teachers in Jerusalem, and asking them questions as they taught. Everybody who was there was amazed at the wisdom and deep understanding the boy displayed. But his mother had other concerns! ‘How could you do this to us?’ she asked him. ‘We have been so worried, searching for you all this time.’

Jesus was surprised. ‘Why were you worried?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you realise that I would be here, in my Father’s house?’

Mary and Joseph could not understand what he meant, but pondered these things. They all returned to Nazareth and Jesus continued to live with them as their obedient and loving son, growing in wisdom, and loved and admired more and more by all who knew him.

The story illustrates:

  • The reality of Jesus’ childhood and adolescence
  • Jesus’ deep sense of identification with his divine father, God
  • The belief that Jesus was aware of his true nature from an early age.

Related Topics

Big Ideas: Temple, tabernacle

Bible References

Luke 2:40-52
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