“Children Obey Your Parents”
The story of the Lord Jesus Christ in the temple (Luke 2:41-52) contains a beautiful lesson of obedience to parents. After His father and mother had found Him, we are told “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” It is this spirit of submissiveness to parents we are considering.
Matthew Henry commented on Christ’s going from Jerusalem to the town of Nazareth with His parents: “Though His parents were poor and mean, though His father was only His supposed father, yet He was subject to them; though He was strong in spirit, and filled with wisdom, nay, though He was the Son of God, yet He was subject to His parents; how then will they answer it, who, though foolish and weak, yet are disobedient to their parents?”
Young people in our day often feel that they should not obey their parents because they think that they know more than their elders. Notice verse 50 where Luke records, “They understood not the saying which He spake unto them•” Jesus certainly knew more than His parents; yet, He did not allow that to make Him insubordinate before them. The fact that He knew much more than His parents in no way made Him arrogant. Indeed, their very ignorance only gave Him further opportunities to be loving and patient with them. There has never been another family in which the intelligence gap was as great as it was between the Lord Jesus and His parents. The attitude of the Lord Jesus, therefore, to them is a wonderful example to the modern youth.
It is sometimes true that young people today have more learning than their parents, but they should humbly remember that the reason they have such remarkable advantages in learning is because their parents, and other adults of that generation, willingly taxed their income. The thoughtful youth will not scorn his parents who did not have similar educational privileges, but will manifest rather a spirit of submission and thankfulness.
The Scriptures teach children to obey their parents in the Lord, stating, “For this is right” (Eph. 6:1). John Calvin said in commenting on this verse: “Obedience is the evidence of that honour which children owe to their parents, and is therefore more earnestly endorsed. It is likewise more difficult; for the human mind recoils from the idea of subjection, and with difficulty allows itself to be placed under the control of another … The obedience of children is enforced by the authority of God. Hence, it follows that parents are to be obeyed, so far as is consistent with piety to God, which comes first in order. If the command of God is the rule by which the submission of children is to be regulated, it would be foolish to suppose that the performance of this duty could lead away from God Himself. He proves it to be right because God has commanded it.” No young person can sincerely expect the blessing of God upon his life unless he is subject to his parents.
This is not to say that the youth does not have a will of his own. No doubt the Lord Jesus had as strong a will as anyone who ever lived. Nevertheless, His strong will was humbly subjected to parental authority, and a balanced personality was the result. The very strength of His will made His submission all the more wonderful. No one wants to see youth without spirit. Everyone who wishes a young person well, wishes to see him zealous and high spirited but with his will submitted to parental authority. Strength of will lends character to life, purpose to activities, and resolve to intentions. For a youth of strong will to submit to his parents provides a wonderful lesson to others, and to himself it is an excellent discipline. God Himself says, “This is right.”
Parents are sometimes wrong. I am sure Mary and Joseph made as many erroneous decisions as the average parents today. Erroneous decisions are due to the lack of information or to prejudice. The Lord Jesus had all information and knowledge on every subject and knew when His parents had made wrong decisions; yet, Scriptures tell us that He was subject to them. Parents should note that the Scriptures say Jesus was subject to them. Both parents were agreed as to what was carried out. Parents cannot expect their children to obey unless there is agreement between father and mother as to matters affecting their children.
Let us notice the attitude of the mother, “She kept all these sayings in her heart.” Obedience never goes unnoticed. Just as Mary stored up in her heart the loving obedience of her Son, so parents appreciate and are thankful for the obedience of their own children.
In verse 52 Luke states, “Jesus increased in wisdom,” this is growth of mind; “And stature,” growth of body. Christ was the Son of God when He was a little babe in Bethlehem, and He pleased the Father as a little babe. He grew into childhood and pleased the Father as a child. When He grew into young manhood, Jesus increased … “in favour with God and man,” that indicated social growth. There is no doubt that Jesus Christ was the most popular young man in Nazareth among the adults. They could see His obedience to His parents. They recognized His love for others. The more they saw of His submissiveness, the more they respected Him. He grew in favour with man. His obedience was noted approvingly by God. Three times God said of Christ that He was His Son in whom He was well pleased. His increase in wisdom and stature only endeared Him to His parents and acquaintances. Matthew Henry says, “Young people, as they grow in stature, should grow in wisdom; and, then, as they grow in wisdom, they will grow in favour with God and man.”
As we read and ponder the story of the Perfect One, may our hearts be convicted of the vast differences that sometimes exist between this pattern family in Nazareth and the professing Christian families of today. May we seek to obey our parents as Christ obeyed His.
“Honour thy father and mother; which is the first Commandment with promise;
“That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3).