“43 But when the feast was over, as they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but (because they assumed that he was in their group of travelers) they went a day’s journey. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:43-46)
It is understandable that Jesus’ parents lost track of Jesus given they were most likely travelling in a large caravan full of family and friends from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back. If Jesus was hanging out with His cousins (possibly playing tag) then His parents could have easily lost track of Him. However, it is interesting that the text says that “they assumed” Jesus was still with their group. And this should be familiar to us all. How many times have we as Christians in America ventured off with our plans, and our goals, all while assuming that Jesus is with us? It is as though we presume that whatever we do Jesus will automatically endorse, offering His divine stamp of approval.
This can be seen in big and small decisions we make every day or through the materialistic and financial focus we operate by. We often are trying to climb the corporate ladder or accumulate more toys, like big houses and fancy cars. We just chase after our dreams and take for granted that God also wants that path for our lives.
Jesus’ parents are disrupted from this assumption when they realize that Jesus indeed was no longer journeying with them. How devastating it must have been to realize their child had been left behind in the big city (remember, they are small time country folk from Galilee), and they have no clue as to where He is. As a father myself, I can only assume that they felt helpless, vulnerable, broken, and scared. It is no coincidence that they must go three days in Jerusalem, because for them the loss of their child would have begun to feel like God had abandoned them in their despair.
After three days of searching, they finally decide to look in the Temple. Contrast the parents with Jesus. The parents are anxious and frantic while Jesus is hanging out, seemingly un-phased by this familial separation. Like any Mom, after realizing that their child is fine, Mary digs into Jesus, disturbed with how their child could put them through such agony. Jesus simply says “didn’t you know” that I had to be “in the things of My Father” (that’s the literal Greek translation). Again contrast the parents’ posture and approach with that of Jesus. The parents began assuming that Jesus was journeying with them. However, Jesus had actually intentionally aligned and arranged His life with, and around, the things of His Father. And there we find a timely challenge for us to follow after. May we, like Jesus, surrender our will to the Father and rearrange our lives and decisions around the Lordship of the Messiah. And may we join God in His radical in-breaking kingdom rather than assuming Jesus will go along with all of our pursuits.
Written by Dr. Drew Hart: Dr. Hart is a professor in theology at Messiah College, author of “Trouble I’ve Seen”, and an activist with ten years of pastoral experience. Dr. Hart recently spoke at a America’s Keswick this past summer with his father, Dr. Tony Hart.
The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 115; Proverbs 23
Daily Quote:God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. ~C.S. Lewis
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39