His parents had gone home without him after their vacation in Jerusalem. The original "Home alone", except that this time it was the parents who went home alone. What mischief would most 12-year old boys get into in that scenario, alone in the big city without parental supervision? But rather than wasting time playing video games or texting his peers, Jesus was in the Temple with his attention riveted on the different kind of texts being explained by his elders. Sitting, listening, asking questions, Luke tells us.
As we saw last time, if our goal is to be Christ-like, the goal for our children is that they would be Christ-like. The only difference is that we want to be like Christ the adult, whereas they should want to be like Christ the child. What did Jesus do? All we are told is that he sat, listened and asked.
Of course he did many other things. We can speculate about what games he played, what entertainment made him laugh, whether he enjoyed fishing. But we cannot base our expectations of boys on speculations about the boy Jesus. But we can (and should) learn from what we know that he did do.
He was sitting. The place is significant: "among the teachers". He's with the big boys. Not playing with his peers but listening to his teachers. We cannot construct a theory of classroom management here that requires that little boys sit at their desk all day - for there were no desks in the Temple, and the teachers were not working from chalkboards. The crucial issue is a heart posture rather than a physical posture.
Being in the company of the religious teachers indicates a heart to learn rather than have fun. That focus is seen in his attentive and inquisitive asking of questions. Sitting at their feet implies a posture of respect. He's looking up to them. He knows he can learn from them. He's asking questions, not offering opinions or using the occasion as a platform for self-expression. Sitting implies focus. Most boys fidget and move around as they lose focus. Jesus is so focused that he hasn't noticed his parents haven't been around for a while.
Our desire as parents is that our children will have the mind of Christ. So this verse gives us an indication as to whether our boys are thinking like Jesus. Our prayer is that they would be filled with the Spirit of Christ. This verse is a reality check to see how much of their capacity is in fact filled with other kinds of spirit.
We know that we cannot expect perfection or instant sanctification. Without implying that he was ever imperfect, Hebrews 5:8 tells us that even Jesus, as a young man, had to learn obedience. But the example of Jesus as a boy does raise the bar and challenge our very mediocre expectations of our children. The problem with having low expectations is that our children are happy to oblige! Boys will be boys. Unless they become boys who will be boys like Jesus.