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If you’re a parent, your greatest fear is the loss of your child – physically or spiritually. If they’ve ever run away, wandered off, survived a serious illness or accident, or suffered at the hands of another, you know the raw terror Joseph and Mary experienced when Jesus went missing.
I vividly remember the day my youngest daughter disappeared. She was seven years old and had silky moonshine hair. Our family was working with missionaries in Manila, the largest city in the Philippines. We’d been repeatedly warned to keep an eye on our beautiful blonde girls, because of trafficking. When I came back from a walk, she wasn’t with the other kids and no one in the household knew where she was. I panicked. Where would I begin to look for her in a city of 1.581 million? For what seemed like hours, I scoured the neighborhood, made calls, and begged for God's help. Finally, I got a hold of my husband; he had taken her on the motorcycle to run an errand.
“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 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’” (Luke 2:43-48, emphasis mine).
From their viewpoint, Jesus had been disobedient. Yet His explanation and subsequent actions, gave Mary reason to pause and reflect once again.
“‘Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:49-51, emphasis mine).
What treasures were there for a distraught mother to ponder? And what can we learn from this passage?
It was one thing for Jesus the baby to be recognized as the Savior. At that point, He was still in the care and control of His earthly parents. It was quite another story when He began to do things of His own volition. Even though they could see the respect and wonder among the religious teachers, it stung that Jesus hadn't consulted them first. He hadn’t asked permission or sought their counsel at all.
This same jolt of recognition hits us. When we ask Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, we enter as a babe into the wonder of who He is. But as we grow in our relationship with Him, He begins to step beyond our plans and control. Suddenly, Jesus asks us hard questions and speaks with authority that stings.
We say, “Why are you treating me like this?”
And He answers, “Why are you surprised? Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?”
After that, Mary took time to think about what it all meant. God revealed Jesus to her as not just her special and wonderful child, but as His Son with a mission all His own. Jesus went home with His parents, obeyed them, learned, grew, and earned the respect of others. But Mary’s view of Him was never the same.
It’s a huge growth point in our relationship with God when we recognize His Lordship of our life. When we see that Jesus won’t behave the way we think He should, but act with authority. When we can accept and treasure that revelation, we, like Mary, will be able to glory in being part of His plan.
The question is will we take time to ponder this, so He can accomplish His will in us this year? It takes quieting our heart before Him each day to value all He is and all He has in store for us.