After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.Luke 2:46
At the age of twelve Jesus travels with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover, as is their family custom. After the festival, Jesus’ parents begin their trip home not realizing that Jesus is missing from their traveling party. Joseph and Mary travel for an entire day before they discover that Jesus is missing. They immediately return to Jerusalem where, after another three days, they finally find Jesus. Jesus is in the temple sitting among the Jewish religious teachers, asking questions and listening to their responses. Jesus does not understand Mary and Joseph’s anxiety regarding his absence, as he assumes they must expect him to be in his “Father’s house.”
This story begs at least one simple question. How do Mary and Jesus manage to lose Jesus? Mary and Joseph’s mistake seems innocent enough, if not for the fact that the child in question is Jesus. Consider again some of the miraculous elements surrounding Jesus’ birth. Mary learns of God’s plan concerning Jesus from an angel in a dream. This child will save his people from their sins. That is not the typical purpose statement a parent hears regarding their child. She gives birth to Jesus despite being a virgin. Mary and Joseph make a hasty trip to Egypt because King Herod seeks to kill the young Jesus. They are unable to return to Nazareth until King Herod dies. This is no ordinary child. And, yet, somehow, on this trip, Mary and Joseph let down their guard and leave Jesus behind.
Metaphorically speaking, are we also guilty of losing Jesus? If so, how does this happen? Perhaps we lose Jesus when we try to make Jesus surrender to our plans instead of surrendering our lives to his plans. We assume Jesus is along for the ride when, in fact, we are riding alone. This seems to be the case for Mary and Joseph, who expect Jesus to conform to the cultural norms of tradition and family. Their expectations are not necessarily wrong, they are just at odds with God’s plans for Jesus’ life.
So, how do we lose Jesus? Jesus gives us a hint when he warns us concerning the cares, riches, and pleasures of life. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. (Luke 8:14)
Culture tells us these pursuits are good pursuits. In fact, they may even be necessary. However, if we pursue these instead of Jesus, we stunt God’s work in our lives. We, in effect, lose Jesus. Today take time to prayerfully consider your own life. Are you pursuing your own plans, assuming that Jesus is with you? Do you try to fit Jesus into your busy schedules and pursuits or do you surrender your day’s activities to him, allowing him to set the priorities for each day? But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Prayer: Lord, we are thankful that you are patient with us. We depend daily on your promise to never leave or forsake us. Yet, we acknowledge that it is easy for us to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are doing your will when we are not. Today, we commit to pursuing your will as the top priority in our lives. Help us discern how to subject life’s many pursuits to your gracious will. In Jesus name, Amen