I suppose that one thing that most people would like is to be understood. And it can be hurtful when those whom we love don’t understand us.
Jesus certainly understood that feeling. His disciples often didn’t understand him. The people he ministered to often didn’t understand him. And in this passage, we see that his own parents didn’t always understand him either.
This is the first story we see of Jesus in the New Testament where he actually interacts with someone, and the people he interacts with are his parents. When he was twelve years old, he and his parents went to the Passover feast. After the feast, his parents started to return home, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem talking with the teachers in the temple.
Unfortunately, his parents didn’t notice, and by the time they realized he wasn’t around, a whole day had passed. It then took another two or three days to finally find him.
One can understand the agitation in Mary when she rebuked Jesus, saying,
Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. (48)
And Jesus was totally confused by their reaction, replying,
Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (49)
In other words, “You know who I am. I expected you to know where I was.”
But in verse 50, it says,
But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
The people who should have understood Jesus the best, had no clue.
How did Jesus respond?
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. (51)
When he saw that they didn’t understand him, he didn’t get defensive. He didn’t scathe them for their lack of understanding. Rather, he did his best to make things right with them. And as a dutiful son, he submitted himself to them.
Think about that for a moment. He was God incarnate. He had created them. And yet, he humbled himself and submitted himself to their authority as his earthly parents.
There will be times when people don’t understand us. And it’s easy to get upset with them. To hold on to hurt because we feel like they should understand us.
But even so, let us learn a lesson from Jesus and humble ourselves. Let us do what we must to make things right. As Paul said,
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18).
“But Bruce,” you may say. “It’s all well and good to say that, but it still hurts. Why can’t they understand me?”
For one reason. They’re not God. Much as we sometimes wish they were, they’re not all-knowing. They can’t see your heart. So don’t expect them to.
But there is one who can understand you, and that’s Jesus. Because he is God. More than that, he experienced what it was like to be human. So whatever you are going through, he understands you completely.
So just as Jesus took comfort in the fact that his Heavenly Father could understand him, even though his earthly parents couldn’t, take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus can understand you. When you’re feeling hurt or misunderstood, turn to him. Talk to him. Because he does understand you.