“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
After looking at the early childhood stage of “enforced obedience” and the youth stage of “willful obedience” we now come to the:
- Adult stage: “mutual obedience”
This stage is the result of successful navigation through the first two stages. And how well we do in each stage will dramatically determine how well we do in the next stage. This is the point here about children “honoring father and mother” To honor means to “RESPECT” their position and authority. And much of the way children feel about God is modeled on how they feel about us as parents! When children “respect” and “honor” their parents they learn to respect and honor God. Why does it matter because God is the ultimate authority figure. No matter how old your kids get, God will be the authority in their life and if they are always fighting Him instead of trusting Him, they are going to have a rough life. We are not our kids’ friends we are their authority figure called to model God’s love and authority in the right way, so that we enable our children to honor God as they honor us. Which brings us to the question what are we modeling? Do our children see us as parents obeying or objecting to God’s authority? The way we honor our heavenly father will influence the way our children honor their earthly father and mother.How we respect authority will determine how we:
B. Respond to Authority
It’s here in Luke 2:41-52 that we see Jesus successfully moving into the adult stage of willful obedience:
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.
Your respect for authority will determine your response to authority.Here we see the story on Jesus’ BAR MITZBAH. The act of being declared a ‘man’ in Jewish culture demonstrates the transition of authority in a healthy way. Jesus had gone through the “enforced obedience” stage as a child, now as a youth he transitioned from “enforced obedience” to his earthly parents to “willful obedience”. His statement in Luke 2:49 was not a response of disrespect, rather Jesus was expressing His surprise that his parents had been frustrated when they found Him where they had taught Him to be as an adult, in His Father’s house! Jesus was simply making reference to the lessons He had been taught by them as His parents to make God the Father a priority. Now as an “official man” in Judaism (he was now 12) he was doing what he had been taught, only now it was not “enforced” it was “willful” on His part. I hear a lot of parents who say I’m not going to require my kids to be involved in spiritual things like youth group or church because I don’t want them to resent it and run from it later in life. But isn’t it interesting that we give them the choice when it comes to spiritual things but not to school? Why don’t we apply this same philosophy to school and let them choose whether they want to pursue their schooling like we do their spiritual education? Because we know given a choice most kids would quit school and it would have serious consequences on their life. But let me ask you, what’s more important their spiritual education or their secular? While our schooling is important someday, we will retire from secular learning but not from the spiritual. One is earthly the other is eternal. It is a grave parenting fail when we make succeeding in the secular more important than the spiritual. As parents we can be in danger of making a bigger deal over grades than we do God. I want you to notice the obvious transition here from childhood’s “enforced obedience” to the “willful obedience” of youth in Luke 2:51 “Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”Following his BAR MITZBAH he willfully submits to their authority.Jesus passed through the 3 stages of healthy authority as all humans must.No doubt the transition was harder for Joseph and Mary than it was for Jesus, which explains their reactions here! Often growing our kids through these stages is harder for us as parents. Sometimes that’s because we want them to be dependent on us. When we do, we cripple them. I have watched a lot of moms fail to cut the apron strings and limit their sons from becoming men. God gives us kids and they come to us 100% dependent on us, but the goal is to transition them into being 100% dependent on Him. After all they are His kids not ours. Sometimes we miss the stages because we are busy. Speaker and author Carol Kent was on the fast track to being an absentee parent until her young son, Jason, made a simple observation. She recalls: “We were eating breakfast together, and I had on an old pair of slacks and a fuzzy old sweater. He flashed his baby blues at me over his cereal bowl and said, ’Mommy, you look so pretty today.’ I didn’t even have makeup on! So, I said, ’Honey, why would you say I look pretty today? Normally I’m dressed in a suit and high heels.’ And he said, ’When you look like that, I know you’re going someplace; but when you look like this, I know you’re mine.’ “His words were like an arrow piercing my heart. I realized I might fail at being a godly Christian mother because I was saying yes to so many speaking engagements. I got on my knees with my precious appointment book and offered it to God.” What about you are you sensitive to the stages your kids are passing through so that you deal appropriately with each one?