Searching for Jesus

Today’s Reading: Luke 2:39-52

The writers of the gospels seem to fast forward through Jesus’ childhood. Not much is written about the time between the visit with the wisemen and the journey to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve years old. Out of curiosity, we wonder what it would have been like to raise the Son of God. We imagine Jesus playing with his brothers, watching his father build things with wood or cuddling up beside the fire with his mother after a long day. Most likely, Jesus had a pretty normal childhood.

When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

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?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. – Luke 2:39-52

Have you ever lost your child, even for just a minute? The feeling that surges through you is far beyond what the word “panic” describes. I get that same feeling when I am at a store and I hear another mother looking for her child. I stop what I’m doing and immediately try to help her find the child.

Every year, we go to Pekin’s Marigold Festival. We start at our friends’ house watching the parade and then go to the park to face the crowds. For us, it isn’t about shopping at the many booths. Instead, it is all about the food!

One year Scott & Libby went off to one booth to buy lunch while the rest of us went to a different booth. When we met up they told us how they had found a lost 3 year old boy. Libby had comforted the little boy and helped him find someone from the Festival to help. My heart went out to a mother somewhere in the crowded park who must be frantically looking for her son.

This must have been how Mary was feeling that day as she looked for her son – the son she knew belonged to God and yet was very much her child. I know the fear of a few seconds of being unable to find my daughter but I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Mary to go through THREE DAYS of searching for her son. Did she sleep at night? How many “what if” scenarios played through her mind from the time she confirmed Jesus was missing until the moment they found him in the Temple. How relieved she must have been when she found him!

The NLT version describes the reactions of Mary and Joseph as “they didn’t know what to think” while the KJV says they were “amazed” and the NIV uses the word “astonished.” I have had a few moments like this as a parent – moments of astonishment or amazement. I have found myself saying, “What were you thinking?!!” Perhaps Jesus’ parents had a similar reaction.

The Greek word used to describe the reaction of Joseph and Mary is very strong – “ekpletto” – to knock someone out of their senses, to strike with astonishment or perhaps terror or admiration. If there had been Twitter in those days, Joseph might have tweeted – I cannot find my son! #ekpletto

They would have watched their son study the Jewish law for years by this age, but this was different. This time, after an exhausting three day search for their son, they walk into the temple and find him not just sitting among the Jewish teachers but listening intently to them, asking questions and then responding with his own understanding and answers. Yes, I am guessing that “ekpletto” would be the proper word for the reaction of more than just Joseph and Mary that day.

“Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus was drawn to His Father, his heart connected to God. Just as I can relate to Mary in this passage, I can also relate to Jesus. I love those moments when my heart is pulled so strongly toward God that I cannot get enough of Him. I love those moments when I am surrounded by His presence with no desire to ever be separated from Him.

My prayer this morning is that we will all experience a strong pull toward God this week. I pray that our time alone with God draws us like a strong magnet as we run into His presence each day. I pray that today we do not anticipate just another Sunday morning worship time but that we rush into His sanctuary with the spirit of I must be in my Father’s house!