A teacher friend told me about a bar mitzvah she attended. She, a Christian and a gentile, was so impressed. As a teacher, it sometimes falls to her to try to control rebellious pupils determined to disrupt the classes.
That is one reason the bar mitzvah impressed her so deeply. It is a milestone in the life of a Jewish boy. When he reaches 13, in a very moving ceremony, he becomes a 'bar mitzvah', a 'son of the commandment'. It is the culmination of much teaching on his Jewish history and heritage, and mainly on the scriptures.
By the time the big day comes, the boy has been thoroughly schooled in all that, as well as learning Hebrew and some Aramaic. My friend told me that at the bar mitzvah she attended, the boy stood before his friends, family and members of the Jewish community and read from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible, which Jews call 'The Law'). The presentation usually starts with the boy saying, 'Today I am a man.'
After the reading of the Torah and prayers, the boy carried the large scroll containing the scriptures all around the room, and each man there touched it as he passed, indicating their honor for the scriptures and their acceptance of the boy as one of them.
This is so important! What a day in a boy's life! He becomes a man, and the ceremony is all centered on the scriptures! He is totally accepted as a man who is now responsible for his actions. His parents cannot be blamed for anything he does after that; he alone is responsible for his own decisions. I think it most unlikely that such a boy - sorry, man! - will be disrupting classes and majoring in rebellion!
What a wonderful day; what a great doorway to walk through; what confidence it must give every Jewish boy; what assurance; what hope for the future.
Of course Jesus had such a day. He was 12 at the time of Passover (March/April) He and His family were in Jerusalem for the feast. As the others went back up north, unknown to them, He stayed behind, in the Temple. The group heading north must have been a large one, full of family, friends, and many from His home area of Galilee. He was not even missed until nightfall.
When Joseph and Mary couldn't find him as they stopped for the night, they rushed back to Jerusalem to look for him.
Three days later they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions.
'And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.' (Gospel of Luke 2:47)
Jesus had His own particular 'bar mitzvah'! Mary and Joseph did not understand, but He said to them: 'Why is it that you were lookiing for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?' Or as some translations put it: 'Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?'
Little did the Jews of that time know that the promised Messiah was right there with them. They should have known! If they studied the Book of Daniel, they would have known from Chapter 9:26 that they were living in the time of Messiah's coming. In fact, they should have known from Genesis 49:10, 'The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.' The scepter (the ability to inflict the death penalty on criminals) had just departed from Judah, removed by the Roman rulers. Instead of mourning their loss of governing ability, they should have been rejoicing, and hunting round to find 'Shiloh' - the Messiah. He was right there in the Temple, talking to them!
But they did not know Him. So, being the obedient son of Mary (adopted son of Joseph), He returned to Nazareth with them and increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. And Mary treasured these things in her heart. Many years later, after the crucifixion and resurrection, when at last Mary fully understood God's plan, she would share all this with doctor Luke, and he recorded these things in his gospel account. And now we can treasure them in our hearts too!
The good news is that the day is coming when the entire nation WILL recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Just read the book of Romans, Chapter 11. 'And thus all Israel will be saved!' (Verse 26) It will take nothing less than the Great Tribulation, the 'time of Jacob's trouble', the worst time in the history of the world, before they will come to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and call upon Him to save them. That's all He's waiting for!