When our kids were younger, we typically took separate cars to church. I left early, then Danielle and the kids came later. It worked fine, most of the time. It didn’t work fine when Danielle drove home with one child, believing the other was riding with me. But sometimes I didn’t know, or forgot, and drove off alone. Walking into the house I knew immediately as Danielle would quickly ask, “Where is…?” It all seems funny enough now, but for the child left behind, not so much.
The boy Jesus was left behind. Although at twelve, he wasn’t really a boy anymore, but was moving into manhood. Culturally, if his Synagogue education was finished, he would have memorized the Torah. On achieving that goal, his reward would be his first trip to Jerusalem, for the Passover. They were there, in the City of David, for the great feast. Afterwards, they headed home, traveling all day before realizing their son wasn’t with their relatives in the caravan. So it was back to Jerusalem, probably walking all night. Imagine Joseph and Mary; imagine them struggling with guilt and blame. Or did thoughts of their son being lost in the desert occupy their minds?
After three days, they found him in the Temple courts, sitting with the Rabbis, who were amazed with him. His parent’s reaction was less amazement and more astonishment. They couldn’t believe he was safe in the Temple, but made no effort to communicate. Mary said, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” He answered them, but they didn’t understand his answer. They couldn’t grasp why he had to be in his Father’s house, but he did. He was about his Father’s business, the business of providing salvation for sinners.
Before Jesus launched his ministry, before there was a cross and an empty tomb, there was a cave in Bethlehem, a trip to Egypt, and a village named Nazareth. My December articles will go back in time, starting today with Jesus at the Temple, then working back to the night of his birth, which I will post on Christmas Eve.
Jesus was left behind. But he wasn’t lost, he was only moving forward to the time when he would seek and save the lost.