I like reading Bible stories and applying them to my life. Usually, I read the story first and it reminds me of something that has happened in my life.
Yesterday, the opposite happened. It was a crazy afternoon already, the kind where nothing was going as I expected. I had finished the after school drop offs/pick ups of the older kids for their activities and raced home to meet the littles at the bus stop. I was anxious to get there because the school nurse had called me and said that she was sending my second grader home with an ice pack from an unfortunate fall during “stinky feet” time at school (walking around with no shoes is a treat for these kiddos). All that to say, I was relieved to see the bus pull up and my injured stinky feet participant emerge with a huge toothless grin, balancing an ice pack and her lunch box as she ran to hug me. I waited for my third grader to hop off the bus, but he was not coming. I asked his sister — she didn’t know where he was. I checked with the bus driver, and a simple shrug with a, “He’s not on the bus” was all I got before she drove away.
Apparently, the school was trying to call me as I was trying to reach them, and I couldn’t get through. In desperation, I called my friend, the school nurse, and let her know what was going on. She immediately went to the office and found our guy sitting there, waiting to be picked up. Relief flooded over me as I made the short drive to the school and found him calmly doing his homework in the front office.
Turns out he had missed the call for the bus departures because he was very involved in a computer presentation he was working on, and was hard to spot behind the big computer monitors.
This morning, as I was thinking about the whole incident. It reminded me of the Bible story when Jesus was 12 and the family discovered He wasn’t with the group as they were returning home. Here it is:
Luke 2:41-52 New International Version (NIV) (courtesy of Biblegateway.com)
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back 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. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 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.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
When I’ve read this story in the past, I have thought about how scary it must have been for his parents when they didn’t know where He was. Yesterday, I lived a mini-version of it. Mary didn’t have a friend like a school nurse to call and see if He was in Jerusalem. She didn’t even have a phone. I wonder if she sent some of the cousins ahead of the caravan to see if they could track him down. I’m thinking that some scary possibilities went through her head of what could happen to Him. Thankfully, my ordeal lasted less than 15 minutes. Mary had to live with it for — three days, did it say?
On teaching note, I went to one of my favorite commentary sites to see what he had to say about this story. Here is his take on it (from Enduring Word by David Gudziak):
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover: Attendance at the major feasts was commanded in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16. It was customary for the faithful of Galilee to make these pilgrimages at feast time in large groups
It would not be difficult to lose track of a young boy with such a large group of travelers – we shouldn’t accuse Joseph and Mary of child neglect. But Mary must have felt badly enough, losing the Messiah.
They returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him: As we would expect from diligent and godly parents, they took the effort to find their son Jesus.
I must be about My Father’s business: In that day, there was nothing more natural than a son taking up his father’s business. Jesus did follow in Joseph’s footsteps as a carpenter, but His words here show that He was at least beginning to understand His unique relationship to His Father.
It is impossible to say when, in the context of the self-imposed limitations of His humanity, Jesus realized who He was and what He was sent to do, but it was early – this is probably the not when it began, but when it was in full flower.
I must be about My Father’s business: These first recorded words of Jesus are significant. The surprise implied by these words of Jesus means that He knew that Mary and Joseph did know of His special relationship with God His Father. It means that it must have been an item of discussion and perhaps instruction in the upbringing of Jesus in their home.
They did not understand the statement which He spoke to them: Jesus’ statement told them something about His identity as a unique Son of God the Father, though they did not understand it. In Judaism of that day, a boy began to learn his father’s trade at about 12 years of age. Jesus fulfilled this by instructing the teachers in the temple.
How about you? Have you had something happen that gave you a new perspective on a familiar Bible story?
Share it with us in the comments section!