And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 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, 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.” (Luke 2:42–44, NASB95)

Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. Training a child to obey and be responsible by the age of twelve is what good discipleship is all about. We raise children. We don’t babysit them or allow them to remain children.

Discipleship is the process of moving infants into adulthood. While we want them to grow through the process, Americans seem to be so much more comfortable with raising teenagers –larger children –a concept that was unknown globally until the mid-1900’s!

Responsibility is one of the hallmarks of maturity. Growing alongside Joseph, Jesus learned not only a trade but also a character. Watching His father work with people and with wood and stone, Jesus learned how talking to God by faith and walking in life by sight intertwine. Joseph and Mary guided Jesus as their little boy grew into a young man. And since, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him,” (Luke 2:40, NASB95) they had no reason to think He would do anything except be the most responsible and respectful traveling.

And so, when His turn came along to head to Jerusalem for Passover, Mary and Joseph knew Jesus would stay with the group, be responsible, and leave with the caravan as it headed back for Nazareth. However, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.”

There comes a time when disciples begin to sense the tug of God in their lives and hearts. They, like all children, start to make their own way, follow their own path. For the disciple of Jesus, that is the Path of Life. It’s different for each of us. And it’s our task to help the young follower of our King to discover how to discern their way on that path.

Until then, responsibility and loyalty to the discipler are key, for these are marks of a life well lived in the presence of the Almighty!

Train Them Thursdays seeks to wed the Great Commission directive of Jesus with the practice He employed while on Earth. Each nugget is meant to encourage the reader with a “can-do” spirit to realize that discipleship is something each person is both capable of and empowered to accomplish. Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, writes each thought and they flow out of decades of his tried and true field-testing in multiple settings from rural to inner city. He welcomes your comments below.