Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Oh, goodness gracious this is every parent’s worst nightmare! You go to find your child and he is nowhere to be found. Panic sets in and all rational thought goes out the door. You must consider the time too. At this time they traveled in caravans for protection against robbers. Lest you think Mary and Joseph were less than attentive parents, it wasn’t unusual at all that Jesus wasn’t traveling with them. Women and children were at the front, but since Jesus, a twelve year old boy, was considered practically an adult he very well could have been traveling at the back with the men. Mary probably thought he was with Joseph and Joseph thought he was with Mary. It was a totally honest mistake. Can’t you see Mary blaming Joseph and Joseph saying something like,” I know, I know, it is my fault, again!” All kidding aside, I am certain they couldn’t think straight or form a complete thought for that matter. Then to make matters worse it took them three days to find him! The sight of twelve year old Jesus probably made them both weak in the knees. I know both relief and anger filled their hearts at the same time. The Bible says they were “frantic, searching everywhere.” When Mary asks him what he was thinking that sweet sinless face just said, “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know I would be in my father’s house?”
The Bible says they didn’t understand. Just like we OFTEN don’t understand why God does what he does. Our brains are just too simple to understand why the creator of the heavens and earth does what he does. Mary knew Jesus was the son of God. I imagine though that wrapping her human brain around what that actually meant was just too much to process. Jesus was in no way your average twelve year old boy. He was in no way being disobedient or sneaky. He was just being the Son of God. Mary and Joseph were earthly parents with earthly worries just like the rest of us. They knew they were raising God’s son, but that had never been done before. Mary had to let go of her child and let him become the man God send him here to be, the Messiah. Our job as Christian parents is to raise our children to go out into the world and tell the Good News of Jesus. Jesus was preparing to do just that. It would be awhile before his journey began, but he was preparing for the mission God sent him to do. Despite having wisdom well beyond his years and a full understanding that God was his father, he humbled himself yet again and lived a fully human life here on earth. Verse 51 says,
“Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son to earth to live as a human being. Thank you for sending us your word so that we can recount Jesus’ life and apply it to our own lives. In Your Name We Pray, Amen