Luke 2:41-52 (ESV)
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
This story sounds like the movie “Home Alone.” However, there’s one crucial difference; in “Home Alone” the mother doesn’t blame Kevin for getting left behind. But Mary, in her panic, tries to blame her 12 year old son for having been forgotten when the caravan left for Nazareth.
Mary says, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” Jesus’ reply is simple and to the point. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”
Jesus is telling them that they shouldn’t have ever been worried; He was where he should be. The question, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” would normally be rhetorical. That is, we would expect it to mean, “You knew where I’d be, right?” But maybe it’s a straight question. Maybe Jesus really is just asking if they knew that He had to be in His father’s house.
If so, the answer is, “No.” They didn’t know that He had to be in His father’s house.
They don’t get it afterwards either. And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
Parenting can be very tough, and this is a stark portrait of how tough it can get. Mary is, as Gabriel said, “favored.” Yet, despite her unique blessing, her life is no cakewalk. Mary is struggling.
But so does every parent. So does every Christian. Life is full of trials, more so for parents and Christians. Anyone who enters parenthood or Christianity expecting things to go smoothly is sorely misinformed.
People generally know that about parenting, but Christianity is often sold as just an easy ticket to heaven. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Christianity is actually what we see in the books of Luke and Acts. It’s full of surprises, trials, and God’s supernatural provision.
Gabriel was right; Mary is favored. Favored and comfortable are not synonyms.
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