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Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 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, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 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.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 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.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. – Luke 2:41-52
What is your favorite memory from the time you were 10 years old? How about when you were 30, or 40? It might be a special Christmas present. It could be a successful project at your job, a new car, or your children’s achievements in sports or school. You might have other memories that are not so pleasant. It could be the day you learned a loved-one was diagnosed with cancer. Or you learned that a friend had died. These are the things that we either treasure in our hearts, or wish we could forget.
We are told here that Mary treasured all these things in her heart. And this is the second time we are told this. The first was at Jesus’ birth and the visit of the shepherds. Now it is the three day lost and found adventure when they found Jesus in the temple.
I am struck by the word, “all,” in this passage. I’m wondering how it would be that she treasured a three day search, or the difficulty of a birth in a barn. And I think I have a clue.
It has to do with discerning God’s work in our lives and realizing that not all good or pleasant things are best for us. It also has to do with realizing how God uses difficulty for our good. And it has to do with recognizing that God really does work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
It reminds me of the fable of the wise man and the farmer’s son. The son has a terrible accident on the farm, and a neighbor says, “That’s so bad.” The wise man says, “We’ll see.” Then war breaks out and all the able-bodied men are drafted into the army’s service. His neighbor says, “He is sure lucky since his injury prevented him from being drafted.” The wise man says, “We’ll see.” Then the enemy army invades and takes his son captive. The neighbor says, “That’s so sad.” The wise man says, “We’ll see.” While he is captive he learns of the enemy’s plans and manages to escape and shares the enemy’s plans. The neighbor says, “How fortunate!” The wise man says, “We’ll see.” And the story goes on and on like that. What may look good one day can become a difficult situation the next.
But God has a big-picture view of life. He is writing a saga of redemption, salvation, glory, and blessing for all people through Jesus. And I believe that Mary knew this. I don’t think she fully understood it, but she seems to have believed it. So she treasures the good and the bad, because Jesus, her son, is the Son of God. His birth was miraculous. His life would unfold in ways that would defy simple assessments of good or bad moments.
This is good for me to remember. What may seem like a set-back may be a set-up for something profoundly good. What may seem good may become a moment’s fleeting joy that dissolves into disappointment. But when we look to God, and see ourselves as part of his grand story of redemption we can hold all manner of things in our hearts. When we do we can look for God’s redeeming love to sustain us and work all things for our good.
For God is good and is working for the eternal blessing of all people. And it’s all connected to our faith Jesus.