Obedience in the Home
There is a beautiful lesson on the obedience of children to their parents in the story of the Lord Jesus at the temple, found in Luke 2:48 through 52. After His parents had found Him, we read: “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” It is this spirit of subjection to parents, we are thinking about.
Matthew Henry, who was himself a model of obedience to his father, remarked on this verse: “Though His parents were poor and mean, though His father was only His supposed father, yet He was subject unto them; though He was strong in spirit and filled with wisdom, yea, 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 sometimes feel they should not obey their parents because they may know more than their parents. Notice verse 50 of our chapter: “And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them.” Christ certainly knew more than His parents. He did not let their ignorance cause Him to have a spirit of insubordination. The fact that He knew more than His parents was no cause of jeering or of impatience on His part.
Indeed, their very ignorance only gave Him further opportunities to be loving and patient with them. There is no evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ ever drew the attention of any person to the lack of general knowledge on the part of His parents. There has never been another family where the intelligence gap has been so great as between Christ and His parents. The example of the Lord Jesus in His attitude toward His parents should be a graphic lesson to modern youth.
It is true that young people often have greater learning than their parents. The youth should humbly remember that the reason he has had such remarkable advantages in learning is because his parents and other adults of their generation have willingly taxed themselves so as to provide much greater advantages in the field of education than were enjoyed by the previous generation. The thoughtful youth will not scorn parents who have not had as great educational advantages as he has enjoyed. Rather, a spirit of submission and thankfulness should be his attitude.
The Scripture teaches children to obey their parents “for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). No better reason could be given. All disobedience to parents is wrong and God-dishonouring. No line of thinking can be taken up that will make deliberate disobedience to parents right. No young person can expect the blessing of God upon his activities unless his life is subject to his parents.
This is not to say that the youth does not have a will of his own. Christ had the strongest will of any person who has ever lived. But with His strong will was humble subjection as a counter-balance. The very strength of His will makes His filial submission all the more beautiful. This is true of every young person who determinedly obeys his parents. Nothing seems sadder than the youth without a strong will. John Newton said: “If we expect to see embers in old age, we must expect fire in youth.” The strong will lends character to the life, purpose to activities, resolve to intentions. To see the youth of strong will consistently submitted to his parents in the fear and love of God is good to behold—in the Scripture “this is right.”
Parents are sometimes wrong. Mary and Joseph undoubtedly made as many erroneous decisions as the average parents today. Erroneous decisions are because of a lack of information, because of prejudices or a combination of the two. The Lord Jesus Christ had all the information on every subject, and yet He did what His parents told Him He should do.
Parents should note that the Scripture states: “He was subject to THEM.” The parents were agreed as to what was being carried out in the family. The parents were united in their decisions. No one blames youth for not obeying when the parents are not agreed on what is expected of the child.
The youth will 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 sweet submissiveness of the Lord Jesus, and loved Him all the more for it, so your mother notices, approves, and appreciates your obedience.
The fifty-second verse shows growth: Jesus increased in wisdom—growth of mind, and in stature —growth of body; in favour with God and man—growth in acceptance. Undoubtedly, the Lord Jesus was one of the most popular young persons among the older generation of His day in Nazareth. His submissiveness to His parents made older people love and respect Him.
The more they saw Him and His submissiveness, the more they appreciated Him. Thus He grew in favour with man. His obedience was noted approvingly by God. On three occasions God spoke from Heaven saying He was well pleased with the Lord Jesus Christ. His increase in wisdom and stature only made it more obvious that He was obedient to His parents.
Matthew Henry said: “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 this story of the Perfect One, may our lives be measured and our hearts convicted of the vast difference that at times exists between this pattern family and the Christian family today. May both parents and children seek wisdom and help from God to live lives that will honour His Name.