After the festival was over, while His parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:44-46 NIV
No question – parenting is hard. I have these moments. Moments that bring me closer to God when I pray, “Dear Jesus, don’t let me kill this child.”
I can’t imagine parenting God.
I wonder if Mary ever lost it with Jesus the way mothers sometimes do. We know Jesus never sinned, but Mary must have.
Mothers get overworked and weary.
Children have a unique talent for flooding floors with sticky, smelly milk that manages to pool under the stove on those days.
Mary was human parenting divine.
In the story above, Jesus and His family travel with a large group of people to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
When the feast is over, they pack up and begin to journey home.
I imagine the caravan – donkeys loaded with blankets, pots and supplies.
Children running ahead while tired parents lag behind.
Cousins flick ears while men discuss routes.
Most likely, the entire village is traveling together.
Easy to lose track of someone.
Easy not to notice someone is missing.
Jesus is twelve. In that day, he was considered almost a man, not a child to be looked after.
They’ve traveled a full day. Dust billows as children scatter.
“Joseph, have you seen Jesus?” Mary asks.
Joseph squints, dust caked hands rise to shield eyes.
Unconcerned he answers, “I’ll find Him.”
The procession stops to rest and replenish. It’s the noon meal.
Awareness turns to unease as they search the crowd. “Have you seen Jesus?” “We can’t find our Son.” Friends and family join the search.
People mill around, repack and move forward.
Mary fights rising panic.
She looks at Joseph, fear in her eyes. His gaze steadies her.
“We’ll go back.”
Mary’s eyes widen. “It’s a full day’s travel.”
Unwavering, Joseph answers, “We’re going back.”
Any mother who’s ever lost track of a child, no matter how old, knows that feeling. The awful feeling in the pit of your stomach – the worst feeling in the world.
Mary and Joseph make the journey back to Jerusalem and begin to search.
Three days later they find Jesus calmly sitting in the temple courts.
Three days of searching.
Three days of not knowing.
Three days imagining the worst.
Here’s what happens after they find Him:
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 NIV
They couldn’t believe it.
When I read Mary’s question, I feel her sleepless nights, the anxious searching and hurt over His deliberate decision to stay behind. “How could you do this to us?”
Jesus responds to His mother’s question:
“Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49 NIV
This is why God picked Mary for a mother. Had it been me, the scripture might read, “When His parents saw Him, His mother yanked Him to His feet, grabbed him by the arm and dragged Him outside.”
Mary is flesh.
Jesus is God in flesh.
The story finishes this way:
But they did not understand what He was saying to them. Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:50-51 NIV
She treasured all these things in her heart.
• She treasured Jesus had to be in God’s house.
• She treasured His understanding amazed the temple court teachers.
• She treasured her Son was found.
• She treasured Jesus.
Mary didn’t understand why Jesus did what He did.
Mary has faith in who Jesus is when she doesn’t understand His ways.
“I prayed so hard and she still died. Why have you treated us like this?”
“I’m so lonely – I’ve waited, abstained and I’m still single. Why have you treated me like this?”
“I wanted this child, this baby more than anything. She never got a chance to grow or be born. Why have you treated us like this?”
Sometimes we have no understanding.
There are no answers.
I can choose to stay in the hurt of what I don’t understand, allow it to distance me from God or I can rest in who I know Jesus to be.
- The Good Shepherd
- Our Hope
- The Rock
- The Risen Lord
- The Sacrafice for Our Sins
And so much more.