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Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first,44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. – Luke 2:41-52
If you have children or grandchildren, you’ve likely seen the book, Where’s Waldo. Throughout the book, on page after page, there are large numbers of things: people, toy cars, houses, hats, various people, bicycles, airplanes, flowers, musical instruments; the list goes on…did I say people? And on every page there is a cute little guy, Waldo, wearing a red and white striped hat and sweater. (See image below)
The challenge is to look at each page to find the little character who seems to be able to hide quite well. It’s fun to see the pictures and to search for Waldo. Maybe parents and grandparents love it more than the little ones.
Mary and Joseph are in a “where’s Jesus” search on their trip home from Jerusalem. They thought the 12-year-old Jesus was with them, or perhaps with extended family along the way back to Nazareth. But he was nowhere to be found. And it wasn’t a matter of finding him among the caravan of folks with them. They determined that they would have to return to Jerusalem to retrieve the boy. And it’s not until the third day that they find him. I can imagine their worry.
Is he with your Uncle? No.
Your sister-in-law’s friend? No.
Maybe he took up with the local carpenter. No.
What about checking out the Shabbat Schools? Maybe a rabbi took him in. No.
Let’s go to the temple. Let’s call on God to help us. Yes.
And there they find him. Sitting in the temple. Among the rabbis there. Asking (and answering?) questions. I think their consternation is understandable. They’ve been searching for three days. They thought that he would be responsible to connect with their homeward-bound group. But he had not. So Mary exclaims: “Son, why have you done this to us?”
Why indeed. This is a better question than you might imagine. That’s especially true if you consider the question in a wider sense than the all-to-be-expected exasperation of a worried mom and dad. We go there so very easily. We see people as doing things to us, as though we are the focus and interest of everyone else in the world. when things happen to us – especially through the agency of someone close to us, or in the case of someone who is obviously set on our harm – we quickly conclude that there is an intent to upset or harm us.
And it may be true. There are people who do want to hurt us. Sometimes it’s those who are close to us, but who are angry with us and want to strike back. But not everyone is out to hurt us. Not everyone is focused on pleasing or distressing us. We are not the center of the universe. It’s not all about us.
But Jesus’ actions are all about us. He was where he was because he had to be about his Father’s business (or in his Father’s house). Most translations have “Father’s house.” But the Greek says, literally, “about the things of my Father.” Jesus shows that he is very clear about two things here. First that he knew there was a necessity to which he must attend if he was to be true to his identity as the Savior. Second, that Joseph as not his true Father. He was the Son of God. He knew where his allegiance lay.
And that’s why he did what he did, treating his parents as he did. So, while life may not be all about you. Jesus is all about saving you and all people. That’s why he came. That’s why he did what he did.