He Courageously Stood Up for the Truth
7 In a world ruled by Satan, “the father of the lie,” it often takes courage to stand up for the truth. (John 8:44; 14:30) Jesus did not wait until adulthood before taking such a stand. When 12 years old, Jesus was separated from his parents after the Passover festival in Jerusalem. For three days, Mary and Joseph searched frantically for the boy. They finally found him in the temple. And what was he doing there? “Sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.” (Luke 2:41-50) Consider the setting for that discussion.
8 Historians say that some of the foremost religious leaders would customarily remain at the temple after festivals and teach at one of the spacious porches there. People would sit at their feet to listen and to ask questions. These teachers were learned men. They were well versed in the Mosaic Law and also in the endlessly complex man-made laws and traditions that had multiplied over the years. How might you have felt sitting in their midst? Intimidated? That would be only natural. And what if you were just 12 years old? Many young ones are shy. (Jeremiah 1:6) Some try desperately to avoid attracting the attention of their teachers in school; these youths fear being called on, fear being singled out, fear the possibility of being embarrassed or ridiculed.
9 Yet, here we find Jesus, sitting in the midst of those learned men, fearlessly asking them probing questions. And he did still more. The account tells us: “All those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:47) The Bible does not tell us what he said on that occasion, but we can be confident that he did not parrot the falsehoods that were so favored among those religious teachers. (1 Peter 2:22) No, he upheld the truth of God’s Word, and his listeners were surely amazed that a 12-year-old boy could express himself with such insight and courage.
10 Today, countless young Christians are following in Jesus’ footsteps. Granted, they are not perfect, as young Jesus was. Like him, though, they do not wait to reach adulthood before standing up for the truth. At school or in the communities where they live, they tactfully ask people questions, listen, and respectfully share with them the truth. (1 Peter 3:15) As a group, these young ones have helped classmates, teachers, and neighbors to become followers of Christ. How their courage must please Jehovah! His Word likens such youths to dewdrops—refreshing, pleasing, and numerous.—Psalm 110:3.
11 In manhood, Jesus showed courage again and again in defending the truth. In fact, his ministry opened with a confrontation that many would call terrifying. Not as the mighty archangel, but as a mere man of flesh and blood, Jesus had to face Satan, the most powerful and dangerous of all of Jehovah’s enemies. Jesus rejected Satan and refuted his misapplication of inspired Scripture. Jesus ended the encounter by commanding boldly: “Go away, Satan!”—Matthew 4:2-11.
12 Jesus thus set the pattern for his ministry, bravely defending his Father’s Word against efforts to twist it or misuse it. Then, as now, such religious dishonesty was all too common. Jesus told religious leaders of his day: “You make the word of God invalid by your tradition which you handed down.” (Mark 7:13) Those men were greatly revered by the people in general, but Jesus fearlessly denounced them as blind guides and hypocrites. (Matthew 23:13, 16) How can we imitate this aspect of Jesus’ courageous example?
13 We remember, of course, that we have neither Jesus’ ability to read hearts nor his authority to judge. However, we can imitate his bold defense of the truth. For example, by exposing religious falsehoods—the lies so often taught about God, his purposes, and his Word—we shed light in a world bedarkened by Satan’s propaganda. (Matthew 5:14; Revelation 12:9, 10) We help to free people from enslavement to false teachings that fill their hearts with morbid fear and that poison their relationship with God. What a privilege we have to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: “The truth will set you free”!—John 8:32.
7-9. (a) What happened when Jesus was 12 years old, and what strikes you as intimidating about that situation? (b) How did Jesus display courage in dealing with the teachers in the temple?
10. How do young Christians today imitate Jesus’ courage?
11, 12. As an adult, how did Jesus show courage in defending the truth?
13. What do we need to remember in imitating Jesus, yet what privilege do we have?