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Our readers asked:

Why did Jesus disobey his parents?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

Why did Jesus disobey his mother and leave her only to be found in the temple?  I thought Jesus didn’t sin and disobedience to one’s parents seems sinful to me!

When discussing Bible stories, it’s always good to carefully re-read the text in question.  Fact is, the story doesn’t say for sure that Jesus was being disobedient.  Luke 2: 43-45 says that “the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey.  Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.”  It’s very likely that the entire situation was a misunderstanding rather than a case of Jesus deliberately defying his parents’ instructions.

It’s also worth looking at what Jesus says when Mary and Joseph do find him: “Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  (49)   By staying and speaking with the teachers in the temple, he was fulfilling the will of his father – God.  Looked at from that point of view, Jesus was actually showing filial obedience rather than disobedience.

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Sandy99

    Even as a child, I thought Jesus was being inconsiderate at the very least to his parents. He knew everybody was set to go and he deliberately stayed behind. Son of God or not — he was being a kid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/piper.stark Piper Stark

    Jesus was not perfect… He was the son of God born with out ORIGINAL sin.. but not sin. He had sin… He made mistakes… he was human. He was just the BEST human this world had ever seen.
    Hebrews 7:26-28: The author refers to Jesus: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/piper.stark Piper Stark

      its a misnomer to say he was “with out sin” notice in the bible, Jesus life moves from age of 6 or so to 30??? What happened in those years? Losts of learning … lots of mistakes. Jesus never claimed to be with out sin. NEVER once. he corrected people who called him perfect or good messiah and said he was not good, only God was Good…. If he were with out sin it would be the equivalent of slaughtering an apple to save an orange. Jesus was like us…an orange … just the best orange.. he was the sacrificial (best) LAMB among lambs of God.. not the only lamb among turkeys.

  • Rich


    The Gospels were written in close enough time to the life of Jesus that someone could dispute the myth if it didn’t really happen. It would be like if you wrote your biography and in it you write about your family from a thanksgiving in 1980, and you mentioned how the cat levitated around the room three times. In reality the cat walked around the table, but you’re raising the bar and making a myth for whatever reason. Someone in your family would discredit your writing because the cat didn’t really levitate around the room. Where are the disputes from those time periods that show that Jesus didn’t do the works he did?

  • ooberman

    Wait a minute. This is in an age when people didn’t hop in the Van, drive 5 hours and then realize they left someone behind. This is in an age when you had some pack animals and walked to where you were going. It took his mother 3 days to realize her only (?) son was missing? And jesus, as smart as he was, wouldn’t realize that it’s courteous to say something?

    In reality, we must see this story for what it is – a fabrication to highlight the specialness of Jesus and how his life was more like a traditional Hero figure in mythology.

  • David

    It’s also possible from the context that Jesus accidentally got left behind but wasn’t worried that his parents wouldn’t find him. The Temple would be a reasonably safe place for a lost child to go to wait to be found. Jerusalem was quite crowded and it would have fairly easy to get separated from your group.

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