“Children, Be Obedient to Your Parents”

“Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous.”—EPHESIANS 6:1.

WE MAY be alive now because we obeyed, while others are not alive because they failed to obey. Obey what? Warnings, for example, from our “wonderfully made” bodies. (Psalm 139:14) Our eyes see dark clouds, and our ears hear claps of thunder. Then, the electrical charge in the air makes our hair stand on end. To those who have been taught about the potential dangers, these signs are a warning to seek a place of safety from the impending storm with its lightning and hailstones that may be life threatening.

2 You young ones need warnings about potential dangers, and your parents have the responsibility to provide them. You may recall being told: “Don’t touch the stove. It’s hot.” “Stay away from the water. It’s dangerous.” “Look both ways before you cross the street.” Sadly, children have been hurt or even killed for failing to obey. To be obedient to your parents “is righteous”—right and proper. It is also wise. (Proverbs 8:33) Another Bible text says that it is “well-pleasing” to our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, God commands you to obey your parents.—Colossians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Lasting Rewards of Obedience

3 Obedience to your parents protects your “life now,” but obedience will also make it possible for you to enjoy the life “which is to come,” called “the real life.” (1 Timothy 4:8; 6:19) For most of us, the real life is endless life on earth in God’s new world, which he promises to those who faithfully adhere to his commandments. A chief one of these commandments says: “‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’” So if you obey your parents, you will be happy. Your future will be secure, and you will be in line to enjoy everlasting life on a paradise earth!—Ephesians 6:2, 3.

4 When you honor your parents by obeying them, you also honor God because he is the one who commands you to obey them. At the same time, you benefit. “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself,” the Bible says. (Isaiah 48:17; 1 John 5:3) How does being obedient benefit you? It makes your mother and father happy, and in turn, they will certainly show their pleasure in ways that will make your life happier. (Proverbs 23:22-25) But most important, your obedience makes your heavenly Father happy, and he will reward you in marvelous ways! Let us see how Jehovah blessed and protected Jesus, who said about himself: “I always do the things pleasing to him.”—John 8:29.

Jesus—A Good Worker

5 Jesus was the firstborn of his mother, Mary. His adoptive father, Joseph, was a carpenter. Jesus too became a carpenter, evidently learning the trade from Joseph. (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:26-31) What kind of carpenter do you think Jesus was? When he was in heaven, before he was miraculously conceived by his virgin mother, as wisdom personified, he explained: “I came to be beside [God] as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was specially fond of day by day.” God approved of Jesus, who in heaven was a good worker. Do you think that when he was a youngster on earth he also tried hard to be a good worker, a good carpenter?—Proverbs 8:30; Colossians 1:15, 16.

6 No doubt, when Jesus was a child, he sometimes played games, even as the Bible says children did in early times. (Zechariah 8:5; Matthew 11:16, 17) Yet, you can be sure that as the oldest child in a large family of modest means, he had chores to do in addition to receiving training from Joseph to become a carpenter. Later, Jesus became a preacher and devoted himself to his ministry to the extent of sacrificing personal comforts. (Luke 9:58; John 5:17) Can you see ways in which you can imitate Jesus? Do your parents ask you to clean your room or do other chores? Do they encourage you to participate in worship of God by attending Christian meetings and sharing your beliefs with others? How do you think the young Jesus would have responded to similar requests?

A Fine Bible Student and Teacher

7 All male members of an Israelite family were commanded to go up to worship Jehovah at the temple during the three Jewish festivals. (Deuteronomy 16:16) When Jesus was 12 years old, his whole family may have made the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. That likely included half brothers and half sisters. However, those traveling with Jesus’ family may have included Salome, who was possibly Mary’s sister, along with her husband Zebedee and their sons James and John, who later became apostles.* (Matthew 4:20, 21; 13:54-56; 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25) On the return trip, Joseph and Mary may have assumed that Jesus was with relatives, so at first his absence was not noticed. Three days later, when Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus, he was in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.”—Luke 2:44-46.

8 In what way was Jesus “questioning” the teachers? His questioning may not have been merely the type to satisfy his curiosity or simply to get information. The Greek word used here could refer to questioning as used in judicial examination and thus could involve counterquestioning. Yes, even as a youth, Jesus had developed into a Bible student who astonished learned religious teachers! “All those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers,” the Bible says.—Luke 2:47.

9 How do you think that at a young age Jesus was able to amaze even experienced teachers with his Bible knowledge? He was, of course, blessed with God-fearing parents who provided him from infancy with divine instruction. (Exodus 12:24-27; Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Matthew 1:18-20) We can be sure that Joseph took young Jesus to the synagogue to hear the Scriptures read and discussed. Are you too blessed with parents who study the Bible with you and take you to Christian meetings? Do you value their efforts, as Jesus appreciated those of his parents? Do you share with others what you learn, as Jesus did?

Jesus Was Submissive

10 How do you think Mary and Joseph felt when after three days they finally found Jesus in the temple? No doubt, they were greatly relieved. Jesus, though, expressed surprise that his parents had not known where he was. Both of them knew about Jesus’ miraculous birth. In addition, although not aware of all the details, they would have known something about his future role as Savior and as Ruler of God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:32-35; 2:11) Hence, Jesus asked them: “Why did you have to go looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?” Obediently, however, Jesus left with his parents and returned home to Nazareth. The Bible says: “He continued subject to them.” Furthermore, “his mother carefully kept all these sayings in her heart.”—Luke 2:48-51.

11 Do you find it easy to imitate Jesus, always obeying your parents? Or do you feel that they often do not understand today’s world and that you know more than they do? Granted, you may know more about certain things—perhaps about using cell phones, computers, or other modern gadgets. But think about Jesus, who amazed experienced teachers with “his understanding and his answers.” You will probably agree that compared with him, you know little. Yet, Jesus was submissive to his parents. This does not necessarily mean that he always agreed with their decisions. Nevertheless, “he continued subject to them”—right through his teenage years. What lesson do you think you can learn from his example?—Deuteronomy 5:16, 29.

Obedience—A Challenge

12 It is not always easy to be obedient, as illustrated a few years ago when two young girls were about to dash across a six-lane highway rather than take the overpass walkway. “Come on John,” they urged a companion as he headed toward the walkway above. “You’re going with us, aren’t you?” When he hesitated, one girl taunted him, “You’re just a chicken!” John, although unafraid, said, “I just have to listen to my mother.” On the walkway moments later, he heard screeching tires and looked down just as the girls were hit by a car. One girl died, and the other was so badly hurt that her leg had to be amputated. The girls’ mother, who had told them to use the elevated walkway, later said to John’s mother, “I sure wish they had been as obedient as your son.”—Ephesians 6:1.

13 Why does God say: “Children, be obedient to your parents”? By obeying your parents, you thereby obey God. Besides that, your parents have more experience than you do. For example, just five years before the accident related above, John’s mother had a friend whose child was killed trying to cross that very highway! True, it may not always be easy to obey your parents, but God says that you should. On the other hand, if your parents—or others—tell you to lie, steal, or do anything that is disapproved by God, you must “obey God as ruler rather than men.” That is why after saying “be obedient to your parents,” the Bible adds, “in union with the Lord.” This involves your obeying your parents in all things that are in harmony with God’s laws.—Acts 5:29.

14 Do you think that if you were perfect—that is, “undefiled, separated from the sinners,” as was Jesus—it would always be easy to obey your parents? (Hebrews 7:26) If you were perfect, you would not be inclined to do what is bad, as you are now. (Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5) Even Jesus, however, had to learn lessons about obedience. The Bible says: “Although [Jesus] was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) How did suffering help Jesus to learn obedience, a lesson he never had to learn in heaven?

15 Under Jehovah’s direction, Joseph and Mary protected Jesus from harm when he was a child. (Matthew 2:7-23) Eventually, though, God removed supernatural protection from Jesus. Jesus’ mental and physical suffering became so great that the Bible says that he “offered up supplications and also petitions . . . with strong outcries and tears.” (Hebrews 5:7) When did this happen?

16 In particular, it occurred during the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life when Satan made an all-out attempt to break His integrity. Jesus was evidently so tortured by thoughts of how his death as a supposed evildoer might reflect badly on his Father’s reputation that as “he continued praying [in the garden of Gethsemane] his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.” A few hours later, his manner of death on a torture stake was so painful that Jesus uttered “strong outcries [with] tears.” (Luke 22:42-44; Mark 15:34) He thus “learned obedience from the things he suffered” and thereby made his Father’s heart rejoice. Now in heaven, Jesus feels our pain as we often struggle to be obedient.—Proverbs 27:11; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15.

Learning the Lesson of Obedience

17 When your father and mother discipline you, it shows that they want the best for you, that they love you. “What son is he that a father does not discipline?” the Bible asks. Would it not be sad if your parents did not love you enough to take the time and make the effort to correct you? Similarly, because Jehovah loves you, he corrects you. “True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—Hebrews 12:7-11.

18 A king in ancient Israel, whom Jesus noted for his great wisdom, spoke of the need for loving, parental correction. “The one holding back his rod is hating his son,” Solomon wrote, “but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” Solomon even said that a person receiving loving correction may have his very soul delivered from death itself. (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13, 14; Matthew 12:42) One Christian woman recalls that as a child when she misbehaved at Christian meetings, her father would promise to discipline her on returning home. Now she remembers her father with affection for providing her with loving discipline that molded her life in a fine way.

19 If you have parents who love you enough to take the time and make the effort to discipline you in a loving way, be grateful. Obey them, even as our Lord Jesus Christ obeyed his parents, Joseph and Mary. But obey them especially because your heavenly Father, Jehovah God, says to do so. You will thereby benefit yourself, and it “may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.”—Ephesians 6:2, 3.

[Footnote]

See Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 841, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

How Would You Answer?

• What are the benefits children may receive from obeying their parents?

• As a child, how did Jesus set an example in obeying his parents?

• How did Jesus learn obedience?

[Study Questions]

 1. How can obedience protect you?

 2. Why do children need warnings, and why should they obey their parents?

 3. What is “the real life” for most of us, and how can children hope to enjoy it?

 4. How can children honor God and thus benefit?

 5. What reasons are there for believing that Jesus was a good worker?

 6. (a) Why do you think Jesus as a child may have worked at home? (b) In what ways can children imitate Jesus?

 7. (a) With whom may Jesus have traveled to the Passover? (b) Where was Jesus when others began the journey home, and why was he there?

 8. What did Jesus do in the temple, and why were people amazed?

 9. How can you follow Jesus’ example in studying the Bible?

10. (a) Why should Jesus’ parents have known where to find him? (b) What fine example did Jesus provide for children?

11. What lesson about obedience can you learn from Jesus?

12. How may obedience save your life?

13. (a) Why should you obey your parents? (b) When would it be proper for a child not to do what a parent tells him to do?

14. Why is obedience easier for someone perfect, yet why would he need to learn about it?

15, 16. How did Jesus learn obedience?

17. How should we view receiving discipline?

18. (a) Of what is loving discipline an evidence? (b) In what positive ways have you seen people molded by such discipline?

19. Why especially should you obey your parents?

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Twelve-year-old Jesus was well-versed in the Scriptures

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How did Jesus learn obedience from suffering?