That spring, Jesus traveled with his parents, Joseph and Mary, for their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. However, when it was time to return home, Jesus lingered behind to spend time in His Father's house, the temple. It was not until a few days later that Joseph and Mary even realized that Jesus was not among the group they were traveling with. When they returned to Jerusalem, they found Jesus sitting in the temple among the teachers, listening to and talking with them.
Joseph and Mary were understandably upset. As parents, they were concerned for his welfare, and a bit surprised that Jesus had chosen to stay behind rather than to leave with them. But Jesus' response makes a powerful impression, in light of what His life was about.
Jesus said to them, "Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49) In other words, after having taught Jesus that his Father was the Almighty God, Joseph and Mary should not have needed to search for him. They should have known that he was in his Father's house. But more significantly, Jesus' words, "My Father," confirmed that Jesus knew and believed who he was; he was the son of God.
Jesus also knew what his Father's business was. He knew where he belonged, why he was there, and who he needed to be. He was called to be the savior of all mankind. That was an intense mission for a youth, one that carried an incredible responsibility to know and understand the Scriptures that spoke of the coming Messiah and his role as healer, teacher, lamb of God and redeemer.
Jesus had an amazing working knowledge of Scriptures, even at age 12. So much so, that he baffled the minds of the teachers with both his questions and answers. But even with his amazing insights, Jesus had a long way to go before moving into his ministry. Joseph and Mary understood this, and in wise response, took Jesus back to Nazareth with them, rather than leave him at the temple.
In Judean culture, a man did not enter into a ministry until age 30. Perhaps the young lad was reminded of the protocol. Maybe he was respected for his youthful wisdom, but he still was a youth who needed boundaries, and training. The passage in Luke goes on to say that "he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:51-52)
Jesus eventually learned carpentry, the trade of his earthly father. And it is possible that Jesus eventually took over the household affairs and watched over and care for his mother, and younger brothers and sisters. His father, Joseph, is never mentioned again after this incident in Jerusalem, and is believed to have died prior to Jesus entering into his ministry.
Though Jesus knew at a young age that he was the son of God, he still subjected himself to the natural processes and stages of human learning and maturing. Because of Jesus' obedience to the guidance of his earthly parents, and his submission to the will of his Heavenly Father, Jesus grew to be heaven's most amazing sacrificial gift to mankind.