“Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
– Jesus, Luke 2:49
I can think of no more comforting words for you, a middle school kid, than Luke 2:42, “[Jesus] was 12 years old.” Have you ever thought about that? Usually we see Jesus depicted on Sunday School posters as this glowing, hippie-like white dude. Or, we see him portrayed in movies by an actor whose other job is male-model. Either way, we see a full-grown Jesus, complete with well-trimmed beard, physical strength, confident eyes, and a deep spiritual aura. We seldom think of Jesus as a middle school kid with awkward beginnings of facial hair, possible facial blemishes, and dealing with over-protective parents. But here, in the Bible (yes, that old leather bound book your preacher uses), we find just that! In fact, in Luke 2, we find the only story of Jesus outside of baby years or adulthood. There are no stories about 9-year-old Jesus. We don’t read the adventures of 18-year-old Jesus. God, in his wisdom and plan, chose to give us this single story of 12-year-old, middle school Jesus. And I think that is huge, incredible news for you! It lets you know that everything you go through as a middle schooler, Jesus went through as well. This whole week, we’ll look at different aspects of this story each day and how you can connect with it, and every Monday, we’ll look at how you are changing spiritually in your middle school years.
During middle school and into high school, an awesome thing will happen in your heart and mind: You’ll discover God is bigger, deeper, more personal, and more powerful than you realized as a child. You’ll ask more questions about God. Jesus will be cooler and more confusing at the same time. You’ll doubt more. You’ll believe more. You’ll grasp more. God has built into your puberty years (sorry, I know puberty is one of those awkward words) the new brain ability to understand more complex ideas and spiritual concepts, which means you have the potential to know God in a way you never have before.
In Luke 2:49, we see Jesus, for the first time we know of, identifying with God as his Father. God is not just the Creator. He’s not just the Ruler of the Universe. He is Father. Dad. Daddy. He is a personal, relatable, loving Father who desires to be in relationship with his children. And middle school Jesus discovered this. He also knew that his own identity was not just son to Mary or brother to James (yep, he had brothers, but we’ll get to that later), but child of God. He knew God was not distant, mean, or angry. He was close, loving, and good, to be known personally. Jesus’ close connection to his Father was seen throughout the rest of his life. He referred to “My Father” in the Bible dozens and dozens of times, treasured this relationship, and invited his followers to understand God in this way. And here, in his early middle school years, not only did Jesus understand God was his Father, but wanted to know him, be with him, and wasn’t ashamed for others to know that. Knowing and loving God wasn’t something for later in life – it was something he could do NOW.
He wants the same for you. He wants you to know as a middle schooler, God can be your Father. If you’ve already been saved, you have God as a Father right now! (John 1:12). You can, like middle school Jesus, call him your Father. You can have a living, loving, growing relationship with God today and every day. He’s your Father. You’re his child. Believe and pursue that, just like Jesus did as a young adult, because God wants to relate to you that way, too. If you haven’t been saved, God wants you to, and he’s made a way for you to be his child through Jesus. If you turn to page , you can read how. I encourage you to do that right now!