Another application from this brief account of Jesus’s boyhood experience in Jerusalem is that Jesus understood the importance of engaging in biblical and theological discussion and learning. We don’t know the exact content of the discussion that took place, but we know that Jesus stayed deliberately to speak with the teachers of the law in Jerusalem. The obvious topic of conversation would have been the Word of God. And while it must have been the case that Jesus saw the opportunity to raise in their minds questions from Torah that would help them understand better the coming of the Messiah, there is no indication that Jesus had a confrontation with them. Hence his purpose was genuine discussion for greater illumination and understanding of God’s Word. It even stands to reason that part of Jesus’s purpose in staying behind was to learn from these master teachers more of the Law of the Lord, which he loved so dearly. After all, Jesus learned much through the whole of his upbringing. And here he had an opportunity to sit at the feet of some of the most learned men in all of Israel. His purposes would have involved both giving to them and gaining from them in their discussion over the law of the Lord.
So often we consider theological discussion a waste of time or, worse, divisive and hurtful. But, oh, how our understanding of theological discussion needs to change. We should see such discussions of weighty biblical truths as opportunities for growth in our understanding of God and his Word, along with subsequent growth in our application of that Word to our lives and ministries. As with every other good thing in life, theological discussion can deteriorate into something harmful. But it need not and should not. Rather it can be the very thing that God would call us to do for the sake of being refined in our understanding and encouraged in our faith.