“’Why were you searching for me,’ he asked. ‘Did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?’”
— Luke 2:49
Most parents know that heart-wrenching terror of turning around and not immediately seeing your child. You know there is no way they have gone that far, but you still cannot see them. Anxiously, you search for them, imagining the worst and hoping for the best. During those first few moments you are reunited with them, you are torn between anger at them for wandering off and sheer joy at the relief of finding them.
According to Luke, when Jesus was twelve years old, He traveled with His parents to Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover. Once the festival was over, His parents started the journey back with a large group, completely unaware Jesus was not among them. Frantically, they searched the crowds for Him and returned to Jerusalem to find Him. Three more days passed before they finally found Him in the temple. Three days. I cannot even imagine how Mary and Joseph were feeling during those days.
We don’t spend much time thinking about Jesus’ early years. In fact, only one of the four Gospels specifically mentions Jesus as a young child. His actions during that time are rarely discussed, but they are just as important as those in His later years. No one knows the reason Jesus was missing. Did He choose to stay behind? Did He get lost? Like most elements of the Bible, the background is not the important part. The focus of the story is the response. He looks at His parents questioning why they would look anywhere else but the Temple. Didn’t they know He would be there?
As children of God, we too may find ourselves separated from others. We may feel persecuted, lonely, or lost. In a sea of voices, we may feel as if ours will never be heard. But we only have to remember that we have a place to retreat, a place to be rest and be restored. Our Father’s house is big enough for each and every one of us. We only have to seek Him out. In times of trouble, where would our friends think to look for us first?