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Astonishing Your Teachers


Read Luke 2:41-52.  Verses 46 and following: "After three days they found him in the temple courts, siting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. [ . . .] 'Why were you searching for me,' he asked. 'Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?'  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.  But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.   And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

Jesus amazed the temple teachers.  He understood matters in a fresh way that caught them off-guard.  Here was one who wasn't just mimicking standard answers.   Instead, even at a young age, he understood more than they were accustomed to hearing.  And he knew what questions to ask.  The depth of Jesus' insight teaches us two important truths about communication.  First, as Luke indicates, Jesus is the Son of God, and this means he is about his Father's business -- learning and telling the truth.   And he is especially good at it.  Christ the Word sees clearly where we see obscurely. 

Second, we should remember that Jesus is still a human child, who "grew in wisdom and stature."  His insight did not arise from out of a vacuum.  His understanding had to be formed by the study of the scriptures.  He was able to draw together ideas and open up new insights in part because he had been prepared.  Insights are made when we have a base of information to work from.   You can't make surprising connections or offer vivid examples unless you have something to build on.  Christ astonished the temple elders because he was thoroughly grounded in Torah.

A deep immersion in the Bible need not limit us, hem us in, or make us close-minded; instead, it can open us up to new insights, awaken us to new possibilities, and help us to see more clearly.  God's message can give a structure to our thinking.  It can broaden the possibilities.  It can unsettle our typical assumptions, and it can amaze us as everything falls into place.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding