I was working on Sunday school ideas when I came across this sermon. I don't know anything about the pastor who wrote this (Jon Burnham) but was moved by what he had to say:
We don't often see Jesus' degree of wisdom or devotion in a twelve year old child. In fact, we may assume it has never happened at any time since then. We can only grasp at straws when we try to think of a modern parallel to the love and devotion to God displayed by little boy Jesus. Perhaps the closest we can get to it is a poem. I regard this poem in light of a terrible scene I witnessed once upon a time in Jerusalem. There is a exhibit with a glass front wall at the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. Behind the glass wall is a room full of little wrinkled leather children's shoes. They are the shoes of children who were killed in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany. This poem was found by the body of a dead child in the concentration camp called Ravensbrook during the Nazi era:
O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will
but also those of ill will.
But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us
remember the fruits we have bought thanks to this suffering
our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity,
the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this.
And when they come to judgement
let all this fruit which we have born
be their forgiveness.
This is the loving spirit of little boy Jesus as he demonstrated in his teaching in the temple when he was twelve years old; and this is the forgiving spirit that Jesus demonstrated as he was hanging on the cross, as he said in regard to those who were crucifying him, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Here we see that by continuing to pour oneself out in self-giving love even the darkest evil can be transformed into a scene of incredible love. We can do this ourselves, we can walk this path of self-emptying love, by staying soft instead of hardening our hearts, by not tightening up but by relaxing and letting in the energy of God's love flow into us and spill over into the world, into our families, into the heart of the child in each of us, even the oldest adult. In doing so, we may be more like little boy Jesus, who increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. We may also hear God say of us one day: "You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased."