Do you remember your first words? Of course not. But your parents probably do. Adults spend the first couple of years of a child's life trying to get them talk, and then spend years telling them to be quiet. Our 'first words' are normally some undiscernible baby-cooing that sounds enough like 'Dadda' or 'Mamma' to make our parents smile and say, 'She spoke!'; 'He spoke!'.
We don't know what first word Jesus uttered as a baby, but the first words recorded are profound. As a twelve year old boy, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem rather than return with his parents to Nazareth after the Passover feast. They return, eventually finding him in the temple, engaging the teachers of the law by answering their questions and asking his own in return.
Mary confronts Jesus: 'Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress' (Luke 2:48). I'd also be distressed if I were Mary; she and Joseph had one job: take care of Jesus. And they seemed to have lost him. But this also reveals that she really didn't yet know who Jesus was and what He was going to do.
This brings us to Jesus' first words recorded in the Bible. Note what he says: 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?'. Remember, this is a twelve-year old. But notice his answer:
1. Why were you looking for me? Jesus seems surprised that she's surprised; Jesus wasn't lost.
2. Did you not know ... To frame a question this way is to anticipate and expect an affirmative response. Jesus expects his earthly parents to be aware of who he is and what he is up to.
3. ... I must be in my Father's house? This brings us to the heart of the answer. To say, 'I must' is to say, 'It is necessary'. Jesus must do this thing. And the thing he must to is be in his Father's house.
So first, Jesus reveals something of his identity: as the Son of God, the Lord is his father in a special and unique way. The Trinity has always existed as one God in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son has an eternal relationship with the Father, so being with the Father is the most normal, natural thing for the Son to do.
Second, the language I must implies Jesus' sense of mission. He's not here just to have a good time; He's here on purpose, he's here on mission. And that mission is going to be to reveal the Father, and to open a way that people come to the Father.
Mary and Joseph didn't get it: they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them (Luke 2:50). Luke is taking us on a journey of discovery, who is Jesus? If you don't get it - stay tuned; neither did anyone else at this point in Jesus' life.
Mary, however, did not give up: his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Luke is inviting us to reflect on the most important question we can ask: who is Jesus, what did he di, and what does it mean for us? If we get the right answer and respond in faith, it means that we too get to go be with the Father.