“…the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.” – Luke 2:43-45
In those days, Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. More than likely, everyone from Nazareth traveled together as a community. It was common in those days and it was common for the community to keep an eye on everyone else’s child. So, it would have not been strange for Joseph and Mary to think that Jesus was hanging out with his friends as the entire city traveled back to their home town.
After they began to head back to Nazareth, Jesus’ parents finally realized He was not around. They rushed back to Jerusalem to seek Him. And where did they find Him? He was in the temple, at 12 years old, sharing His understanding and knowledge of the Word.
It tells us in vs 48 that Mary says, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And what were Jesus’ first recorded words? “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Jesus knew what His calling was and where He needed to be, even at the age of 12. He was not being disrespectful to His parents, He was just reminding them of His true mission. In fact, it tells us in a few verses later that He went back home with them and lived in “subjection” to them. Think about that for a moment! The God of all creation, putting Himself into subjection to authority!
Joseph and Mary were headed home and when they discovered Jesus was not with them, they went to seek Him and they were anxious. Many times in our lives we can think He is with us but sometimes we have walked away from Him. As a result, anxiety sets in and we can become frantic. And when we run back to Him and find Him, maybe we ask the same question Mary did, “Why have You done this to us?” Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us, we are the ones who walk away. And maybe today you are feeling anxious or that Jesus is not with you. Has He walked away or is it you that walked away?
“Before condemning Joseph and Mary, we should remember how easy it is for us to travel a day’s journey, supposing Jesus to be in the company, when actually we have lost contact with Him through uncontested sin in our lives. In order to re-establish contact with Him, we must go ask to the place where fellowship was broken, then confess and forsake our sin.” – William MacDonald