I have never lost one of my children in a crowd or a store. However, there is this one time I have not forgotten.
Our mom was taking us downtown to catch the ferry to go see the Statue of Liberty. Our mode of transportation was the typical for New Yorkers – the subway. To this day, none of us are sure quite how it happened but in changing trains, my brother was left standing out on the platform. Mom and I were stuck helplessly, jammed in the train, the doors closed and through the window we could see him still standing there.
Mom frantically waved to him to stay still. We got off the next stop, ran up the stairs, down the stairs, threw our tokens in and took a return ride to get him.
This mother would know the feeling, exactly …
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. The year Jesus turned twelve was no different. Or not yet, anyway.
They attended the usual celebrations and started home to Nazareth. But somehow, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, his parents probably assuming He was with other children also traveling back.
But when they stopped to rest, Jesus did not return to them for a night’s sleep and they began searching for Him. Unable to locate Him among those traveling, they headed back to Jerusalem in the hopes of finding Him.
And they did.
Jesus is in the Temple, sitting with other religious teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Those present were totally amazed at His understanding.
With mixed emotions of anxiety and relief, His mother says to Him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” (Luke 2:48,NLT)
I so appreciate Mary in this moment. She had the most miraculous experience with an angel, a birth still beyond explanation, and delivered the Son of God to the planet earth for us all and yet, in this moment, she has completely forgotten about it all.
Twelve years of the childhood of Jesus have not been told to us. One might assume, they were perfectly normal years – the teething, learning to walk, beginning to eat solids, squabbles with siblings. So normal that perhaps, Mary may have forgotten Who she has birthed.
More so, perhaps she has forgotten the purpose for which He had come. Jesus responds to His mother,
“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NLT)
Scripture tells us they didn’t understand what He meant. They still could not fully comprehend the scope of Jesus’ ministry and mission.
But Jesus never lost sight of His identity nor His purpose. Jesus knew He was the Son of God and it was His Father in heaven whom He needed to obey.
Jesus returns with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth. Scripture tells us He was obedient to them. Life continued on as it had. There are no other details given to us of His childhood until He begins His earthly ministry.
An old hymn, words and melody, came back to my mind:
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
(I Know Whom I Have Believed, Daniel H. Whittle, public domain)
In this very familiar story, I find several reminders –
We are to know our identity.
We are to know our lives have a purpose.
We are to believe and be persuaded that
He is able.
This is Day 18 of 31 Questions Jesus Asked. You can find the entire series here.