Now it was the practice of Jesus’ parents to go to Jerusalem every year for the Passover festival; and when he was twelve, they made the pilgrimage as usual.
When the festive season was over and they started for home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know of this; but thinking that he was with the party they journeyed on for a whole day, and only then did they begin looking for him among their friends and relatives. As they could not find him they returned to Jerusalem to look for him; and after three days they found him sitting in the Temple surrounded by the teachers, listening to them and putting questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his intelligence and the answers he gave.
His parents were astonished to see him there, and his mother said to him, “My son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” “What made you search?” he said. “Did you not know that I was bound to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he meant.
Then he went back with them to Nazareth, and continued to be under their authority; his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
And as Jesus grew up he advanced in wisdom and in divine and human favor.
Pilgrimage: Why did people go on an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem? *
As today’s Muslims hope to journey to Mecca at least once in their lives, so in Jesus’ day all Jews hoped to journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
All adult male Jews who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem were required to attend the Passover at the Temple, and those who lived farther away often made the pilgrimage as well.
A Jewish boy became a man when he was twelve years old, and so at twelve Jesus joined the caravan going to Jerusalem from Nazareth in Galilee.