Story of Jesus in the Temple

Jesus and his parents were in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they journeyed for a day. Then they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple area sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. He asked them one question after another. The teachers were amazed at his understanding of the scriptures. And everyone who heard him wondered at what he said. When his parents saw him making such progress, they were astonished.”

Jesus was a young boy, and he had been looking forward to going to the Temple with his parents. He wanted to see all of the priests and worshippers there, and he wanted to learn about the ancient ceremonies that would take place before him.

But when he got there, something felt wrong. The priest who was supposed to show him around wasn’t there, and everyone seemed so busy with their own things that no one had time for Jesus.

The other boys and girls around him were all carrying special gifts or exploring new areas, but Jesus didn’t have anything like that—just his sandals in one hand and a prayer book in the other.

He decided he would just sit quietly in one corner of the temple courtyard until someone came by and offered him some attention. As he sat down on a bench, he noticed an old man sitting next to him who looked very sad.

“Hello,” said Jesus politely as he tried not to stare at the man’s dirty clothes or smell his bad breath too much. “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know,” said the old man sadly. “I guess I’m waiting for someone important enough for me to get up from this bench.”

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Story of Jesus in the Temple

While visiting the temple in Jerusalem at age twelve, Jesus became separated from his parents and was inadvertently left behind. Upon returning to Jerusalem three days later, his worried parents found him at the temple listening to the teachers and amazing those around him with his understanding.

Background Study:

Joseph and Mary had kept Jesus in Egypt to protect him from King Herod. Matthew tells us (Matthew 2:19-23) that the angel came to Joseph in Egypt and told him to take Mary and Jesus back to Israel. They ended up back in the town of Nazareth. This fulfilled prophecy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene (verse 23).

Jesus was raised as a normal Jewish boy of his time. He was known as Joseph’s son and learned his “father’s” trade of carpentry.

Jesus would have attended synagogue school and would have observed the Sabbath and the Jewish feast days. When Jesus was twelve years old, it was time for him to take his place as an adult male in the religious community. He was now old enough to take part in the observances of the Jewish faith.

Jewish men were required to attend the religious celebrations surrounding the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. Sometimes their wives and children accompanied them. Jerusalem was just over 100 kilometres (approximately 64 miles) south of Nazareth. People travelled in groups for safety reasons. This may or may not have been Jesus’ first trip since he was a baby.

Joseph and Mary stayed the full seven days of the festival, although they were required to stay only two. The day they left Jerusalem, they probably thought Jesus was with the other members of their family who had also attended the feast. When night came, they anxiously looked for him. After searching the caravan they knew they had to return to Jerusalem.

The city would have been full of people so it must have been quite a job finding Jesus. It seems they travelled one day away from Jerusalem and one day back. The third day was spent searching Jerusalem for their son. They finally found him in the temple courts totally absorbed in listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Others were amazed at Jesus’ understanding but his parents were just worried about their son.

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As a teacher you might use this time to talk about how important it is to tell your parents where you are going to be. Parents need to know where we are at all times. As parents we can imagine how Joseph and Mary must have felt.

This seems to be the first time that Jesus struck out on his own faith. This would have been difficult for his parents to understand. Jesus still needed to mature and grow before he was ready to begin his ministry in the full sense. He returned home to obey his parents and grow in all of the areas humans must grow in.

Wisdom: education. Stature: physical growth. Favour with God: spiritual growth. Favour with men: social growth.

Way to Introduce the Story:

Attach a long strip of adding-machine tape (or any long strip of paper) to the wall. Mark off measurements. Measure various people (older and younger than your class) before the children arrive and mark the heights on the paper. As children arrive measure them and mark their heights on the paper. Show them how they are taller than children younger than them. Point out how much they will probably grow by the time they reach the age of the older children or adults you have measured. You could do the same thing with scales and weigh the children in class.

How else do we grow? We grow in how much we learn and how much we know. We grow in our understanding of God and Jesus. We grow in the way we get along with other people.

Jesus was a baby but then he grew. Today we are going to learn about something that happened to Jesus when he was twelve years old.

The Story:

When Jesus was a little boy his family moved to the town of Nazareth. Jesus grew up doing the things that little boys do. He played games with his friends and he went to school. Joseph was a carpenter so Jesus learned how to help him make things from wood.

Every year Jesus travelled to Jerusalem to attend the Passover Feast. This was a religious holiday and a special ceremony. Joseph always took part in the celebration. Jesus knew that someday he would be a grown man like Joseph. Someday he would go to Jerusalem and visit the temple where the teachers were.

Finally, the time had come. Jesus was twelve years old. This meant that he could go to the temple and take part in the Passover Feast like the other men.

Jesus and his family travelled all the way to Jerusalem. It took many days to get there. Sometimes there were robbers on the roads so Jesus’ family travelled along with lots of other families to be safe. Jesus probably liked walking with his friends and cousins. He might have played games and talked with them as they walked along the way to Jerusalem.

Joseph and Mary would have seen many of their friends in Jerusalem to. It was a beautiful city and everyone was there to worship God.

After the festivities it was time to go back home to Nazareth.

But as they headed home Joseph and Mary began to notice someone was missing. At first they probably thought he was walking with his friends because they had been travelling a whole day when they finally realised he was not there. After looking everywhere, they knew that he must still be back in Jerusalem.

Where was their son, Jesus? They searched for him and finally found him. Can you guess where Jesus was?

Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the temple courts. He was with the teachers of the Law and he was asking them questions. It seems Jesus had enjoyed learning and listening so much that he had stayed to hear more. Everyone there was amazed at how much this boy understood God’s word.

Mary told Jesus they had been searching and searching. She wanted to know why he was still there at the temple. Jesus surprised them with his answer. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew that God was his father and that the temple was God’s special house.

When Mary and Joseph heard this they knew that Jesus was growing up.  He was understanding more and more about his heavenly father.  They knew that it would not be long before he was a man. But he was not a man yet! He was only twelve years old.

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Jesus travelled back to Nazareth and he obeyed his parents in everything they said. Jesus helped the family and was a good son.

Jesus worked along with Joseph and learned to be a carpenter. He made his mother and Joseph very happy.

Jesus was indeed growing but not just in his body. Jesus grew in four ways: 1) He grew in wisdom. That meant that he learned about God and the world and how to live a good life in the world.  2) He grew physically. That means he ate good food and exercised so he could grow big and strong. 3) He grew spiritually. That means in the way he knew and loved God. 4) He grew socially. That means he learned how to make friends and how to treat people nicely.

Jesus grew in all of these ways because he knew that someday he would do a special job for God.

jesus in the temple childrens story

LOOK at the young boy talking to these older men. They are teachers in God’s temple at Jerusalem. And the boy is Jesus. He has grown up quite a bit. Now he is 12 years old.

The teachers are very surprised that Jesus knows so much about God and the things written in the Bible. But why aren’t Joseph and Mary here too? Where are they? Let’s find out.

Every year Joseph brings his family to Jerusalem for the special celebration called the Passover. It’s a long trip from Nazʹa·reth to Jerusalem. No one has a car, and there are no trains. They didn’t have them in those days. Most of the people walk, and it takes them about three days to get to Jerusalem.

By now Joseph has a big family. So there are some younger brothers and sisters of Jesus to look after. Well, this year Joseph and Mary have left with their children on the long trip back home to Nazʹa·reth. They think that Jesus is with others traveling along. But when they stop at the end of the day, they can’t find Jesus. They look for him among their relatives and friends, but he’s not with them! So they return to Jerusalem to look for him there.

At last they find Jesus here with the teachers. He is listening to them and asking questions. And all the people are amazed at how wise Jesus is. But Mary says: ‘Child, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried trying to find you.’

‘Why did you have to look for me?’ Jesus answers. ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in the house of my Father?’

Yes, Jesus loves to be where he can learn about God. Isn’t that the way we should feel too? Back home in Nazʹa·reth, Jesus would go to meetings for worship every week. Because he always paid attention, he learned many things from the Bible. Let’s be like Jesus and follow his example.

Luke 2:41-52; Matthew 13:53-56.

jesus lost in the temple lesson ideas

This lesson was created to teach an inductive style lesson to older students.  Reading the Scripture passage and interacting with what is written, the students will discover that when Jesus is in the temple at age 12 He showed that He was God’s Son who came to do God’s will.

Bible Lesson:  Boy Jesus in the Temple

In the Old Testament there are many prophecies that spoke about God’s promised Savior (Messiah).  In the past few weeks we have seen God’s Words fulfilled exactly how He said it would happen when we studied the Birth of Christ.  When Mary and Joseph obeyed God’s law by dedicating Jesus at the temple when He was only 8 days old, Simeon and Anna recognized that He was the Messiah that God had promised.

Today we are going to study another event in the Lord Jesus’ life when He was young.  The Bible isn’t filled with stories of Jesus’ childhood.  God has given us only a limited view of Jesus before He began His ministry as the Son of God.  What God does reveal to us teaches us that Jesus IS God’s Son who came to do God’s will.
Turn to Luke 2:41.  Let’s read Luke 2:41-42.  When we read ‘His parents’, who are they? (Mary and Joseph) Where did they go? (Jerusalem)  How often did they go? (Every year) When did they go? (During the Feast of Passover)

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Mary and Joseph were obedient to God’s laws and raised His Son Jesus in a home honoring God’s laws.  God’s law required that Jewish men travel to Jerusalem 3 times a year to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. (Deuteronomy 6:16)

(If students looked at the Jewish Feast chart allow them to share what they discovered about the Passover feast.) The feast of Passover was a yearly reminder of how God rescued His people from Egyptian slavery.  All who wanted to be safe from the death angel killed a lamb and put his blood on their door posts.  When the angel saw the blood the people inside the house were safe from destruction.

  •  In this passage of Scripture Jesus is only 12 years old.  One day He would be the Lamb who was slain to take away the sins of the world.  (John 1:29)

Read Luke 2:43-47.  When Mary and Joseph traveled home how long did it take for them to realize Jesus was not with them? (A day’s journey) How long did they look for him? (3 days)  Where did they find Jesus? (In the temple) What was Jesus doing?  (Sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking questions) How did those who heard Jesus react? (They were amazed at His answers)

Jesus is fully God and fully man.  When He took on flesh (became like us) and lived among us, He grew and learned like we do.  (Jesus grew, but did he learn? He didn’t start out from infancy with all knowledge — he had “emptied himself” of omniscience when he became a man (Philippians 2:7). 

Read Luke 2:48-52.  How did Mary respond to Jesus when she and Joseph found Him in the temple?  (She asked why have you treated us like this?  We have been searching for You in great distress) How did Jesus answer Mary’s question?  (Why were you looking for Me?  Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?)

Mary and Joseph did not understand Jesus’ answer.  He left with them and returned to Nazareth and was obedient to His earthly parents.  He continued to increase in wisdom, years and in favor with God and man.
With only the birth of Christ, His dedication and His visit to the temple at 12 as the only recorded events of His childhood, God reveals that Jesus is His Son who came to do His Will.

Why is it important to know that Jesus is God’s Son who came to do His will?

Believing Jesus is God is the only way to be saved from our sins and have eternal salvation.  (John 3:16, 36; 1 John 5:1-5)  If Jesus was not God He would have been born just like every other human, with sin.  He would not be able to be a perfect sacrifice and unable to cleanse us from all our sins.

Today may be the day that you fully understand that you are a sinner who is separated from God.  The punishment for your sins against God is death (Romans 6:23) being separated from Him forever.  God loves you so much that He sent His only Son Jesus into this world as a baby.  He lived a life without sin and died on the cross for all sins.  He was buried and God raised Him to life 3 days later.  All who put their faith in Jesus are forgiven from all their sins and are given the gift of eternal life.  If you have questions about how to become a believer in Christ please speak to us.

If you are a believer are you growing in your understanding of God and living a life that pleases Him?  Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding by knowing and obeying God’s Word.  That is exactly how you and I grow as His followers.

Close in prayer.

Application Questions:

(Application questions help students think about how the Bible relates to them.  Discussing application questions in a safe setting also provides accountability and enables the teacher to pray for the students.  Depending on size of your class you can divide the class up to work on one question and share their responses as a group.)

  1. How is your attitude like/unlike Jesus when you hear God’s Word taught?
  2. What are you doing to grow in wisdom of God’s Word?
  3. How can your growing understanding of God’s Word help you in your daily life?
  4. Who can you share the Good News with this week?

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