When working in student ministry for 15 years, I’d often get the question, “What does the Bible say about about parenting teenagers or the teenage years in general?” And to that question, I’d usually say, “There was no such thing as “teenagers” in the Bible and that they would enter adulthood around that time by getting married and a job.” I’m just kidding. Sort of 😉 All joking aside, there’s not much from the Scriptures talking about that unique season of life. What little we have would be in the book of Proverbs where Solomon is instructing his young sons who would’ve been around that age and popular yet important passages like 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
However as we read from today’s passage, we do have a brief account of Jesus, the incarnation of God going through those awkward teenage years (12 years old) and we it echoes and affirms the other few passages about this important season of life. We see in v. 40 that Jesus was:
- Being filled with Wisdom
Please don’t look past these 2 important items here because this is one of the very purposes for the teenage years. Growth into adulthood and wisdom. Yes, this is God on earth who had more wisdom as the creator of knowledge and the brain but as God in flesh he would’ve went through this season with the same notions of teenagers today. And don’t forget that God entrusts parents and the church to play a major part in that growth into adulthood and wisdom to get them there.
In Paul David Tripps’ book on parenting teenagers “Age of Opportunity” he says,
“We want to be used of God to develop teenagers who can go out into the world and live wisely. We must introduce them to the whole symphony of biblical wisdom so that they can make biblically sound decisions. We need to get away from the quick and easy “do this, don’t do that” that we dispense on the fly with little or no discussion or explanation. We need to invite out children to examine and discuss, seeing difficulty and trouble as an opportunity to help them hear a little more of God’s symphony of truth and to understand how these notes make sense of life.”
Again, wisdom is crucial for this season of life and it’s why the only other large section of Scripture that we have dedicated to early adulthood is the book of Proverbs where Solomon wrote wisdom for his young sons.
Of course, the other biggie with teenagers is their response to authority and submission in this season of life. I love how v. 51 shows Jesus, again GOD-THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, submitting to His parents when they thought they lost him and found him teaching at the temple. He gave them another hint and reminder of who He was (“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”) but he ended up submitting to their authority and request nonetheless as a model for all teenagers everywhere.
Yes, if Jesus, the son of God, needs to submit to his parents authority there’s really no other excuse that a kid can give to not submit to their own parents. And through all of this he increased in wisdom and stature. I pray that as parents and as the church we will do everything we can to increase our teens to do the same.
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor