41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
But there is something else we need to know about this time in the life of Jesus... something that is not in the Bible, but is easily found in the pages of history.
When Jesus was twelve years old -- the same age as in the Luke 2 passage -- there was an uprising among the Jewish people in the region of Galilee. Archelaus, ruling in succession to his father, Herod, called in the Roman army to quell the rebellion. The Romans destroyed a city near Nazareth and then crucified two thousand Jews as an unmistakable message to demonstrate the consequences of going against Rome.
Can you even begin to imagine what 2,000 crucifixions might look like? Might sound like? And although this thought is NOT found in the pages of history, it is in the Luke 2 passage that Joseph the carpenter, Mary's husband, leaves the Bible narrative altogether. His name is mentioned in other Bible passages, but Joseph himself is never again part of any Biblical scene. Is it not possible that Joseph might have been on one of those 2,000 crosses? It's very possible. Jesus was confronted, at the age of 12, with the awful spectacle of 2,000 of his neighbors and countrymen hanging dead or dying on rough Roman crosses... and maybe with the much more personal spectacle of watching his earthly father, Joseph, die on one of them also. *
Think about that possibility next time you think about the crucifixion story in the Gospels. Now think about what it really must have taken for Jesus to continue on His solitary lifelong path toward Calvary. Is it any wonder that He sweat drops of blood praying in the Garden prior to being arrested? (See Luke 22:44.)
* Re-read the crucifixion scene in John chapter 19, starting at verse 25. Jesus takes a moment to make sure the disciple John, standing at the foot of the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus, will assume the responsibility of caring for Mary. Why would He do this, except for the fact that Mary was a widow? Granted, this was two decades or more after the Luke 2 passage, but Mary's widowhood certainly must be a fact at the time of the crucifixion.