1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Peace be with you!
DISCLAIMER: You have to forgive me: my children have four legs and bark at anyone who comes over. That being said, my illustration is what I know as a mother.
I was doing my morning routine when I realized my second oldest pup, Ava, was nowhere to be found. After checking her usual hiding places (the bed, the couch, the kitchen corner, the four dog beds, and outside), I called my step-dad, Kim, and made sure he did not take her with him to go to the grocery store, as she likes to go for car rides. Nope, Ava should be somewhere in the house. I searched her usual hiding place five more times as I began to panic. Then suddenly after an hour of searching, Ava walked out from under the bed as if she just heard me calling her. I was so glad to see her.
Mary and Joseph were good Jewish parents. Each year Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41-42). Mary and Joseph were good Jewish parents who taught their son the Torah. Since Jerusalem is central to the Jewish traditions, Mary and Joseph take Jesus there yearly. Jerusalem is central to the Gospel of Luke, because the temple is there and is where God dwells.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph traveled as a community with their friends and family members to and from Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph had left Jerusalem with the group and were heading home when they realized Jesus was not with the group as they had assumed (Luke 2:43-44a). With haste, Mary and Joseph searched desperately among their friends and family member for Jesus, and when he was nowhere to be found they turned around for Jerusalem (Luke 2:44b-45). I am sure any parent can relate to Mary and Joseph’s panic. As parents, it is your job to keep track of your children, to protect them, to feed and clothe them, and so much more. It is a tough job. If that is not enough pressure, Mary and Joseph just happen to be raising God’s only begotten son. So when Jesus goes missing, it is a big deal.
Mary and Joseph rushed back to Jerusalem as if their lives depended on it. I mean what would God do to them for loosing his son? Or is he laughing because they think Jesus is missing? For three days, Mary and Joseph panic about their missing son as they traveled back.
Mary and Joseph get to the temple in Jerusalem and see Jesus listening to the teachers and asking the questions (Luke 2:46). Mary, like any mother in her situation, is beside herself. She has been traveling for three days in sheer panic, and he is fine. And when she asks why he stayed behind, Jesus answers, “Why were you searching for me? How did you not know I would be in my father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
Mary and Jesus have different definitions of what it means to be missing. For Mary, Jesus was missing because they could not physically find him. He should have been among their friends and family going back to Nazareth. But he was not with the group: he was missing. For Jesus, Mary and Joseph are missing the point: he was where he was supposed to be – with his heavenly father. Mary and Joseph do not understand their family includes the heavenly father who calls Jesus as his own.
Jesus is true to his calling, even at a young age. He understands his place in the world is with God the Father, the one true Lord. According to the Gospel of Luke, the temple is where God dwells and is where you go to be with him. So if Jesus wants to spend time with his heavenly father, he has go to the temple. Mary did not understand the significance of Jesus’ question back to her. The readers at the temple understand at a young age Jesus is answering his calling from God the Father.
We often forget that children are also called to serve the Lord. We think children are too young to serve an important role in the church and the world. Yet, it is the children who beg a visiting friend or family member to come see them in the Christmas pageant at church. It is the children who run to altar to be blessed during Communion. It is the children who go to the front to hear the good news. It is the children who remind us to pray before meals. We, adults, have a lot to learn. Where does our excitement go? Are we too conservative? Are we too polite? Are we too afraid of what others think? Are we too self conscious?
God calls each one of us differently to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. Our ministries may look different and have different goals, but they all point to the same thing: the forgiveness and grace of Jesus. Maybe we should start answering our calls as Jesus does and stop worrying what others think. You may not understand the grand scheme of the objective, but that will be worked out in the end. Be eager, like Jesus, to serve God the Father.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for finding what is missing. Help us to come to answer our call to spread the good news of Jesus Christ with eagerness and without fear. Remind us that what is missing is not always lost – it just may not be where we expect it to be. Thank you for calling us to spread the good news. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What is missing in your life? What seems misplaced?
2. How do you answer your call to serve God the Father by spreading the good news?