I must be in my Father’s house

I found an intriguing reference to Jesus telling his parents after their three-day anxious hunt, noting that calling God his Father had likely never been spoken before that moment. “And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.”

Image by JUAN IGNACIO TABAR GOMARA

I must be in my Father’s house

By John Pearring


Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Luke 2:41-51


Jesus ‘first contact,’ his initial revelation as a special member of creation, took place in full view of the religious leaders of the Hebrew people. Well before he exposed his Messianic personae and divine character to the world, the son of Mary and adopted son of Joseph took his rightful place in the Temple.

After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
(Luke 2:46-47)

Contrary to any thought that Jesus avoided the Pharisees or cared little for their authority and purpose as Rabbinical leaders, we can cite several times when he, like every Rabbi, spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth. Luke, in 4:16, referred to Jesus’ recognized place in the synagogue as a teacher, a Rabbi. He was an observant Jew. 21:37 Luke writes, “And every day he was teaching in the temple.

Matthew and Mark confirmed Jesus’ rabbinic role, saying he went “about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues.” Mary of Magdalene shouted “Rabboni” when she saw him after the resurrection. Jesus’ role was not that of a rogue or religious rebel. He was seen that way, but Jesus took his position seriously, and with honor.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”* which means Teacher.
(John 20:16)

The significance of Jesus presenting himself to the temple Pharisees at twelve may go deeper than we think. (This is unsurprising since we always learn more about the scripture texts as we study them!)

I found an intriguing reference to Jesus telling his parents after their three-day anxious hunt, noting that calling God his Father had likely never been spoken before that moment. “And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.”

They did not understand his reference to “Father’s house.” While an alien’s initial contact upon discovery by humans prompts the line, “Take me to your leader,” Jesus establishes his Father as the leader who sent him.

We can’t know the questions the Pharisees asked Jesus as a preteen or the teachings that Jesus heard. If he had referenced his Father in any of those conversations, the religious leaders would not have judged the 12-year-old too harshly. Conversely, in his ministry years, when he officially embarked upon his mission, Jesus referenced his Father at every chance, and that is what got him killed.

The numbers range from 65 to 213 when Jesus called himself the Son of God or spoke about his Father. Translations vary in references from one Bible to another, seeming to settle by most accounts at 165, but the significance is not lost on us. In his first consort with the Pharisees, Jesus may have identified his Father, a notion that simply rolled over their heads. As an adult, his affiliation to God as the son, the Messiah, and one with the Father in “I am” shook the religious leaders to their core.

Luke quotes Jesus’ initial words at the crucifixion: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ dying words were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Indeed, the prayer Jesus taught us begins with “Our Father,” sealing our kinship to Jesus in a remarkable, intimate fashion.

The Jewish people, unlike Mary and Joseph in those early days, clearly heard Jesus’ reference to his divine sonship as scandalous.

We can hear the seriousness of Jesus’ frankness as a youth awakening in him a needed caution. His mother, too, grasped the powerful reality of her son.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
(Luke 2:46-47)

Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, his Father’s house. He identified himself as the Temple that would be rebuilt in three days. He established our bodies as the temples that would house the Holy Spirit, which was once only housed in that Jerusalem Temple where he listened and taught. He now resides in us, children of the Father, the place where he must be.

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