Summary: How easy it is to sometimes lose Jesus in our lives.
“Have you lost Jesus in your life?”
This morning we are going to look at a unique story about Jesus. It is unique because it is the only recorded story describing an event that took place during the childhood of Jesus. It is also unique because Luke is the only writer to mention it. Now why did Luke include this story? Obviously, the main reason is the Holy Spirit directed what Luke wrote. I’m so glad this story is included for a couple of reasons. First, we get a brief glimpse into the family of Jesus and we can affirm that neither Jesus nor Mary was identified by shining halos. Second, I believe this entire episode is a parable from the life of Jesus that has a powerful application to our lives today. Read Luke 2:41-52.
In the days of Jesus, every year, all Jewish males were expected to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. This would have been a very special time for Jesus and his family because we see that Jesus is now twelve years old. That means it is very possible he had undergone his bar mitzvah on this trip to Jerusalem. He would have become a “son of the commandment.” You see, at age 12 in biblical times, a Jewish boy literally became a man. Well, after the Feast of the Passover and most likely the excitement of Jesus’ Bar mitzvah it was time to travel back home. After a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was missing. You may be wondering, “How in the world could Mary and Joseph forget their oldest son? Doesn’t that sound like child neglect or something?” Let me give you some Jewish background and you’ll understand how it could have easily happened.
Back in Jesus’ time, families traveled in large groups with other families. It was much safer to travel as part of a large group. Of course, they walked, or rode on slow donkeys when they traveled. There were three separate groups of travelers. All the married women would walk together in the first group, but don’t think that was because the men were doing it for a polite reason like “ladies first.” It was because the men knew the women walked slower, so they always left first and the men preferred not to walk with the women... because, women, ahem, like to talk. The very young children would travel with their mothers. The second group would be all the older children, basically supervised by the older girls who were not yet married. Then, bringing up the rear were the men, all the guys twelve years or older. This way they could keep a distant eye on the women and children without having to turn around but these groups could be separated by several hundred yards each.
Now, can you see what happened? After traveling all day, Mary and Joseph came together. Mary never saw Jesus in the children’s group because she assumed since he was now 12, he was walking with the men. Joseph, on the other hand, was accustomed to Jesus being in the children’s group, and even though he had turned twelve, he must have assumed that since he wasn’t with the men, that he was where he always walked, with the older children. Both Mary and Joseph made a dangerous assumption: They each thought Jesus was with the other. They were wrong and they lost Jesus.
When they returned to Jerusalem, they found Him in the temple preaching. Mary scolds Jesus because he caused them so much anxiety and Jesus’ reply revealed that even as a 12 year old, He understood His role. In the KJV He says, “I must be about my Fathers’ business.” Joseph did not interrupt and say, “My business is carpentry, what do you mean?” Joseph knew he was not the real father of Jesus. In the NIV, Jesus says, “I had to be in my Father’s house.” Mary didn’t react by saying, “Your father’s house is in Nazareth!” Why? Because Mary knew, better than anyone, that Jesus was the Son of God. Did you notice verse 51? It’s a good lesson for every teenager who thinks they are smarter than their parents. Even though Jesus was the Son of God and knew He was the Son of God, it says, “he was obedient to them.” Kids, Jesus obeyed His parents.
Now this is an interesting story, but at this point, I want us to dig below the surface of this story and discover a powerful truth that perhaps you’ve never seen before. I had heard this story and read it many times and I missed the point. But several years ago, I heard a sermon by a preacher by the last name of Dykes, and I’ve never forgotten his application. You see, this is more than just a captivating story about 12-year-old Jesus and His parents. It is a parable about how you and I can lose Jesus in our own lives. Let me share with you some personal applications of this text as I ask you to consider the question: Have you lost Jesus in your life?