Have you ever felt panic and helplessness? Once when I went shopping for food I lost my daughter for what seemed to be an eternity. It was only about one minute. She was normally very good at staying by my side holding on to the trolley or my leg. That particular day the store was packed with shoppers and she wondered off. I lost site of her and never felt such panic. My heart was thumping and I couldn’t think straight. I ran to the end of the isle and looked both ways and could not see her. I started calling her name and tried to hear in the midst of the confusion. Music was playing, people were talking and I could not hear my daughter at all. I ran up and down frantically trying to see her. I think at that point tears were running down my face and I was sweating. I turned back and ran the opposite way and I spotted her. She was calmly looking at some boxes on the shelf. I think they might have been cereal boxes. When she saw me she smiled. I grabbed her in an embrace and tried to calm myself down. If you are a mother, an aunty, a big sister, a grandma, a teacher, a nanny that once lost site of a precious child you will know the feeling.
The Bible tells us that once Jesus’s earthly parents went through the same thing. Not in a supermarket but when they had gone to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. I imagine it must have been a very busy time for the people living in Jerusalem, in fact for the entire nation as they sought to follow their customs established many years before (Deuteronomy 16:1-8). After they had done all they needed to do, they started their journey home only to realise Jesus wasn’t among the family and friends travelling with them, mind you, it took them a day to realise that!
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. Luke 2:41-45
Judging by how I felt when I lost my daughter for the longest minute in my life, it must have been a very stressful and worrying journey back to Jerusalem for Mary and Joseph. They found Jesus! I found my daughter looking at some boxes a couple of isles back from where we were originally. They found Jesus back in the temple.
6 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47
What I find interesting about these verses is that all the people who were listening to Jesus, even at the age of 12, were amazed at his understanding and his answers. It must have been incredible to be in the presence of Jesus, the pre-teenager, who was fully man and fully God answering the questions. It must have been special for those people. Guess what? We have something they didn’t have: we have the Bible. We can hear Jesus speaking at any time. Are we listening? Are we amazed? Are we even spending any time in His Word?
Another reason I think this passage is great is because we have a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus in a different level. Here Mary is telling Jesus off for putting them in that horrible situation.
48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Luke 2:48
I guess at this point in time Mary didn’t really grasp who Jesus was. You would have thought that at that moment she would have remembered what the Angel told her when he appeared to her to announce God had chosen her to be the mother of his Son.
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33
We also see Jesus’s humanity in the fact that He didn’t even think to tell his parents he was staying behind in the temple. Children do that, don’t they? Most of the time is quite innocent. They just can’t think of how their parents will feel and how much they will worry. Jesus’s answer to Mary’s question is interesting as well. You might think that he should have at least apologised to his parents, but no. Mary and Joseph didn’t understand who Jesus was but Jesus had not forgotten. His humanity had not distracted him from who He was and from His mission.
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:49-50
When I found my daughter in the supermarket I was very glad she was ok and it took me a while to recover. When we were home I spoke to her about not wondering off and making sure she was with mummy all the time. I tried to make her understand the danger of wondering off. It worked. She didn’t do it again. Sometimes she would ask if she could go see something and as long as I could see her and she could see me we were ok. This has been our rule to this day. She is a teenager now, but she still makes sure she can see me when we go places and she makes sure I can see her too.
We are not told what things Jesus and his parents talked about on their way home but we are told that He was obedient to his parents. That is correct. Jesus, the king of the Universe, was obedient to His earthly parents as much as He was obedient to God His Father. Again, this gives us a glimpse of his humanity. Whatever rules Mary and Joseph had, Jesus followed and obeyed. We are told he grew in wisdom and stature and he found favour with God and with man.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51-52
I am grateful I re-read this passage this week. It is wonderful to see how Jesus set an example for us of obedience. I also find it amazing that God inspired Luke to record this experience in the life of our Saviour. As my daughter was lost to me and Jesus to his parents, we were all lost. In fact we were all walking away from God, but He came to find us and rescue us through His Son. I pray we keep reading on and that God will open our eyes to see more truths about His Son.