"Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" ..." (Luke 2:49)

"Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49)

This is Jesus' first statement in the Gospel of Luke. He said this when his body was twelve years old.

When Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, and the feast was over, they began their journey home but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem at the Temple:
'sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.' (Luke 2:46)
This verse illustrates that at some point, Jesus was a student.

Did Jesus worship himself?

Jesus' statement contradicts the teaching about Jesus promoted by many institutions - including the Roman Catholic Church and those sects that grew from its theology - that Jesus is God.

Yet such a teaching (that Jesus is God) is repeatedly contradicted by the Gospels, including the Gospel of Luke. Jesus contradicts this notion by what he himself said and taught. And this first statement by Jesus in Luke underscores this fact. The phrase "my Father's house" indicates two important things:

1) That Jesus was devoted to someone other than himself - translated here as his "Father."

2) That Jesus considered the Temple where God is worshiped - even though this was a Jewish temple - as God's house. If Jesus was God then he would have described the Temple as "my house."

We know from the Gospels that Jesus worshipped the Supreme Being, the very same God that the early Israelites worshiped: The same God addressed in the Bible as Jehovah, Yahweh, Eloah, Abba and many other Holy Names. This is the same God that Jesus prayed to and praised. In other words, Jesus worshiped God. Jesus did not worship himself.

And this is the very same God worshiped by David, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Job, and John the Baptist. And the same God worshiped by peoples of various other ancient monotheistic cultures by different names.

The bottom line is that there can only be one God. One Supreme Being. There may be many sects and names of religious institutions. But there is only one God, and this is the God that Jesus refers to as Greek πατήρ (patēr) - translated here to "Father."

Did Jesus really call God 'Father'?

The New International Version as used here, along with the King James Version and practically every other popular version of the Bible - translates the Greek word πατήρ (patēr) to "Father." But is this an appropriate translation of this Greek word in context?

We should note that just because all these Bibles used the same word doesn't mean that Jesus used this word. Jesus was speaking in Aramaic, which eventually was translated into Greek. So the English words used are twice removed from what Jesus actually said. For this reason, it is important to understand not only the meaning of the Greek word, but within what context it was spoken.

According to Strong's lexicon, the Greek word πατήρ (patēr) means:

"generator or male ancestor -
-either the nearest ancestor: father of the corporeal nature, natural fathers, both parents
-a more remote ancestor, the founder of a family or tribe, progenitor of a people, forefather
-fathers i.e. ancestors, forefathers, founders of a nation
-one advanced in years, a senior"

This means that when used in the context of an earthly physical family, "father" would be appropriate. When used of a country or tribe, the word would refer to ancestors, forefathers, founders, etc.

But in ancient times this term also applied to one's superior - translated to "master" or "lord."

Yet these are all references to relationships within the physical world - namely those relating to a physical nation or a physical family, or one's position in society.

But when used in reference to God, in the context of a spiritual discussion, the term takes on another meaning and thus a deferential translation.

In other words, the more appropriate translation would be "Creator" or "LORD." These are the two deferential references provoked by the Greek word πατήρ (patēr) within this context.

Because God is above the realm of the physical - as indicated by Jesus - that He is beyond the physical and of the spirit - the spiritual realm. Therefore, to translate this word to the lowest common denominator - i.e., "father" which refers to a physical family - would not be appropriate.

Translating this word πατήρ (patēr) to "father" when it is referencing God would be inappropriate. It would be akin to bringing God down to our level - which He is not.

Given the definition above and the recognition of God's superior spiritual position, the more appropriate translation of this Greek word when referring to God would be "Creator" because this indicates God's ability as "Generator" as noted above - being the ultimate Source of not just Jesus, but all things and all beings.

Moreover, the word πατήρ (patēr) was also utilized as Jesus in a more intimate basis, as "my" (ἐγώ egō) πατήρ (patēr). This has often been translated to "my Father." However, again since Jesus is not discussing such a relationship akin to the physical body - where fatherhood prevails, the more appropriate syntax would relate to the spiritual relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being - being one of loving servant and his LORD, or Master. Thus a more appropriate translation would be akin to "my LORD" in most cases, as this better captures both the devotional intimacy as well as the loving servitude relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being.

A further basis for this is that the Greek word πατήρ (patēr) was frequently used in ancient times to indicate a relationship of one's superior - as historically a senior person was addressed frequently with this word - even when there was no familial relationship. Thus "my lord" was the typical usage that carried this forth into the English language in such greetings to superiors in ancient times.

This translation would also correspond to the use of יְהֹוָה (Yĕhovah) through the Old Testament - often translated to "Lord" throughout the Old Testament. Yet certainly, Yĕhovah or Jehovah - which refers to the Original Person and Source (or Creator/Father) of everything - is being stated in the original Hebrew.

For this reason, references to God using πατήρ (patēr) include the capitalization system employed by early English translators - to LORD.

This would also be consistent with the word that Jesus likely spoke himself in Aramaic: Abba. The word Abba is also more appropriately translated to Creator or LORD.

Was Jesus a student before he was a teacher?

This event in Jesus' life, at 12 years old, and this statement, indicate that:

1) Jesus was a student before he was a teacher;
2) Jesus put significant effort into learning the Jewish teachings and the scripture prior to his becoming a teacher;
3) Jesus accepted the teachings passed down from Moses, David, Solomon, Eli, Saul, Joshua, Abraham and others (as this is what the "teachers" of the temple were teaching).

We find later that Jesus also accepted John the Baptist as his initiating teacher. In other words, he became a disciple of John.

This illustrates another aspect of Jesus. That not only did he accept the teachings of those ancient prophets prior to his appearance, but he accepted a process by which one must become a student of a bonafide teacher who is passing on the Truth before becoming a teacher.

The first chapter of Luke goes to great lengths to establish that John the Baptist was part of this ancient lineage of teachers descended from Abraham, Moses, David, and others. It establishes that John's father, Zechariah, was part of this lineage:
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (Luke 1:5)
Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. (Luke 1:8)
So we see that Zechariah was a devoted priest who worshiped God. He was chosen by God to bring up and teach a son, John, in the teachings passed down through him. This early Luke text also illustrates that John the Baptist was also able to deliver people back to God - "save" people, in other words:
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:11-16)
'Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God' indicates quite clearly that John the Baptist - and those who preceded Jesus in the succession of teachers leading to Jesus and then Jesus' disciples - were able to "save" people, by bringing them 'back to the Lord their God.'

Is Jesus the only one who can save people?

This clearly contradicts another teaching that Jesus is the only means of salvation for all humanity. If Jesus is the only means to salvation then this means the billions of people who lived over the centuries before Jesus could not return to God through the teachings of such great saints as Abraham, David, Moses and so many others.

Why did they bother to teach if they could not save people? And what happened to all the devoted people before Jesus' appearance - could they not be saved?

Early Roman Catholic teachers tried to cover up this hole in their thesis that Jesus has been the only means for salvation by conjuring up a mythical state of "purgatory" where supposedly every person who worshiped God would have to wait until Jesus came and saved them. This is simply creative speculation by an organization that originally sought to maintain control over the Roman Empire by virtue of a claim that Jesus is "God became man" and the only means of salvation.

Yet their statement has no scriptural evidence aside from the misinterpretations and mistranslations of key scriptural passages. They try to claim that many of David's prayers were actually about Jesus instead of God, and they try to claim that the Prophets' teachings were all about predicting the coming of Jesus.

This has no real support once those texts are translated objectively. Those texts show that each of those Saints were devoted to God - the same God Jesus worshiped, whom he called "Father."

And as for some of the texts of the Old Testament discussing a savior to come - this lineage of teachers offered many saviors - many messiahs: One after another, as the Truth was being passed from teacher to student for thousands of years. Each era has provided a 'messiah' - one passing on the true Message of God - which can save us.

Were Jesus' teachings consistent with John's?

We find that Jesus' teachings were clearly consistent with John's teachings. We also find that John's teachings were consistent with Zechariah's teachings, and Zechariah's teachings were consistent with those teachers (Prophets) before him. This is why Jesus often referred to David and other Prophets in his own teachings. Jesus was part of a succession of teachers that went back to David and David's teacher, Samuel, and Samuel's teacher, Eli, and further up to Moses and Abraham.

While this fact has been shrouded by those who assembled, translated and interpreted (for payment) the books of the Bible on behalf of their institution seeking power, we can see clearly that Jesus' teachings were consistent with those of his teacher, John:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:1-2)
After Jesus' baptism from John, he also taught the same message:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)
and Jesus also told his disciples to preach this same message to others:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 10:7)
While this phrase, 'The kingdom of heaven is near' is not the optimal translation, it tells us that John, Jesus and Jesus' disciples all taught the same basic message. This clarifies that Jesus is not the exclusive savior that many have professed.

Rather, it illustrates that what Jesus taught is what saves people. The message Jesus taught, and John before him taught, and David, Moses and Abraham before him taught, and Jesus' true disciples after him taught, is what will save us.

What does 'the kingdom of heaven is near' mean?

And just what does 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' mean? Many have promoted the proposition that this verse indicates the end of the world is coming soon ("near"). 

But they have been promoting this interpretation for over 1700 years, even though the world has yet to come to an end. Thus the word "near" is being misused. Were John, Jesus, and Jesus' disciples all lying about the world coming to an end soon (after all, they interpret the word "near" as meaning "soon.")

Yet the word "near" does not mean "soon." The word "near" in these verses is being translated from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō), which does not indicate the element of time at all. It indicates closeness in distance according to Thayer's lexicon: "1) to bring near, to join one thing to another; 2) to draw or come near to, to approach."

In other words, 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' means that God's kingdom is very close to us. It is accessible. Jesus further indicates this as he said:
"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)
How could an entire kingdom of God be within us?

Most people interpret this to mean within our physical bodies. But this is incorrect. Where is it then? Inside of our liver? Our brain? Our lungs?

The correct understanding comes from who we actually are: We are not these physical bodies. We are each spiritual beings in essence, and we are temporarily occupying and operating a physical body.

Understanding that our essence is spiritual means that when we access our spiritual nature - the spiritual person within - we can access the spiritual realm. We can access God and the kingdom of God only through our spiritual nature.

What is our spiritual nature? 

We each have a spiritual form, which has nothing to do with the physical body we occupy. This spiritual form is eternal, and it comes from the spiritual realm. Each of us - as spirit-persons - was created by the Supreme Being as one of His caregivers.

But He also gave each of us the choice to love and care for Him or not. After all, love requires freedom, and God wanted to enjoy our love only when given voluntarily.

Those of us who chose not to love and care for God anymore were given physical bodies and our consciousness was tossed into the physical world by virtue of taking on a gross physical body.

This might be compared to a person sitting down in a car and driving it away. Except that the programming of the physical world by the Supreme Being is set up in such a way that we are tricked into identifying with these physical bodies - allowing us to forget our spiritual identities. (We can get a little glimpse of this as people will also often identify themselves and others by the car they drive.)

Why have we been thrown into these bodies and have forgotten our spiritual identities? So we could get away from God. We wanted to get away from Him so we could try to enjoy ourselves in a self-centered way. We might compare this to putting on a spacesuit. Our physical bodies give us access to this physical world set up to allow a self-centered, seemingly God-absent dimension.

The spiritual realm is a place where there is no self-centeredness. One cannot be self-centered and remain in the spiritual realm. So those of us who became self-centered had to be sent into this virtual physical world.

We could compare this to a computer video game, where the person utilizes a game icon (and begins to identify with it) through the programming of the game. The person may be sitting in their chair in front of the computer, but their icon is allowed to go through so many challenges - wars, fights and so on - within the game.

But when the computer video game is over, the person can turn off the computer and get up and walk away. The fact that their icon was blown up in the video game doesn't matter. This is because they are not that video game icon.

We are in a similar situation. The spiritual realm is near right now to each of us because we are not these physical bodies. These things of the physical world - our occupations, our money (or lack thereof), our families, our cars, and houses - they are not ours because we are not these bodies. We will leave them all - including our physical identity - at the time of death.

But our spiritual essence will never leave us. It will always be near to us. At any time we can return to our spiritual essence and our true nature as one of God's loving caregivers. This is the purpose of the primary teaching of Jesus, Moses and all of those Teachers sent by God to give us a single message that will ultimately save us:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
The Book of Luke documents virtually the same thing:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27)