Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.  But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.  And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.  And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?  And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.  And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
This is a precious passage of Scripture. It is the only place that records the silent years of Jesus’ life from His early childhood until the events of His public ministry. In these verses we find some wonderful truths concerning our Savior.
I am interested in the circumstances surrounding the trip to Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph had both received a visit from the angel of the Lord concerning the birth of Christ. They were fully aware that Jesus was the Son of God. But during the years of day to day living, they seem to have gotten used to Jesus and are not expecting anything from Him at this stage in His life. As the trip to Jerusalem unfolds, it reveals normal people who make normal mistakes. They were used to having Jesus among them and had no idea that He remained in Jerusalem.
It was at this time that Mary and Joseph learned a great lesson in life. In the normal routine of life they had failed to keep their eyes on Jesus. You and I have also been guilty of the same. As we look at these verses, I would like us to consider this question: Is Jesus Among Us? Would we even know if He wasn’t?
I. The Danger of Complacency – Consider the life of Mary and Joseph since their engagement. They had no idea that God was planning to use them to care for His Son. Imagine the joy that they felt as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, with the angels and the shepherds, the wise men and the gifts.
Soon after His birth a time of anxiety set in as God warned Joseph to flee unto Egypt. But now all of that has faded in the rigors of day to day living. The visitors have stopped coming to see the Christ child and they have begun to raise a Son. The excitement of His coming has been replaced with the normalcy of life. They have grown complacent with simply living.
What caused that in their lives? I’m sure as we look at the text we will find that we deal with the same issues. It is easy for Christians to grow complacent. The excitement of our salvation is replaced with the normalcy of service. Notice:
A. Their Familiar Activity (41-42) – We find that they have gone to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. This wasn’t the first time they have made this trip; they had gone every year at this time.
Have we not been guilty of the same? Many of us attend church at least three times a week. We’ve been raised in a church environment. We have heard the gospel message all our lives. It is easy to grow complacent and satisfied because we are so familiar with the activities of the church
B. Their Faulty Assumption (43-44a) – The Passover feast had concluded and they began to make their way back to Nazareth. I’m sure that Jesus had always been a good child, obeying His parents; He was God in the flesh. Mary and Joseph assumed that Jesus was with the band of travelers somewhere. They were so confident that they went a days’ journey before they even missed Him.
We may wonder how this could be, how could they possibly not have missed Him? However, we have done the same; maybe not with our own children, but with the Lord. There are many who go much longer than a days’ journey before they realize that Jesus isn’t among them.
C. Their Frantic Awareness (44b) – they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. Can you imagine the anxiety that they felt when they realized that Jesus wasn’t there? I’m sure they began to panic.
No doubt we’ve all had those times in life when we came to a realization that Jesus has been neglected in our lives. It is a lonesome feeling to need the Lord and find that we have overlooked Him and He is not near to us. Complacency in our lives will do that. We get used to things as they are and we never realize that our love has grown cold. Many times we never realize it until we face a difficulty in life.
II. The Basis for Recovery – This was a desperate situation for Mary and Joseph, but all was not lost. They would find Jesus and their relationship would be restored. It is possible to recover what our complacency has lost if we will follow the steps revealed in these verses. First there must be:
A. A Return to the Lord (45) – When they discovered that Jesus was not with them they knew exactly where to look; He would still be in Jerusalem where they had left Him.
If you no longer enjoy a close fellowship with the Lord, you have left Him. I’m sure that the Spirit has spoken to you and you know exactly where to return to. You can find Jesus there if you desire His presence.
B. A Steadfast Commitment (46a) – And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple. They searched for three days before they found Jesus. They had made up their minds that they were not leaving Jerusalem without the Lord. They were willing to do whatever it took, for as long as was needed, to find Him.
This is a principle that many need to understand in our day. We live in a day where there is little commitment. We want “part time” employment with full benefits. People want to seek the Lord and expect instant results. We have very little patience to wait for Him. We have grown so used to drive up windows and express service that we tend to seek the Lord with the same attitude.
We need a steadfast commitment unto the Lord. We need those who will seek Him for days on end if that is what is required. Recovering genuine fellowship will require more than a casual, passing prayer. It requires diligently seeking the Lord!
C. A Humble Recognition (46b-48a) – When they found Jesus He was sitting among the doctors, the teachers of the Scripture, hearing and asking questions. Jesus was only twelve years old and He confounded the wise. They were astonished and amazed at His wisdom.
As Mary and Joseph looked and listened they saw Jesus as they had never seen Him before. He was no longer a childish boy at their feet, but a Man of wisdom. It was here that He revealed Himself as the Messiah.
If we could really see Him as He is, I can assure you that we would get over our complacent and careless attitudes and begin to serve Him with a renewed zeal and commitment. If you want your fellowship restored, praise Him for who He is, see Him as Lord of your life!
D. A Trusting Faith (49-51) – Jesus revealed that He was about His Father’s business. This is why He came to earth to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption for all mankind.
Mary and Joseph didn’t understand all that would come to pass. They had no idea the miracles He would perform, the lives that He would touch, or the death that He would die, but they trusted His wisdom. Mary pondered these sayings in her heart.
You and I will never fully understand why or how the Lord works as He does. There are things that we simply must believe by faith. I can’t explain all that Christ has done for me or what He is doing right now. I have decided to praise Him for what I do know and trust Him for what I don’t. We just need to learn to trust Him and rest in His promises.
Surely we have all found ourselves in this situation. We have allowed the busyness of life to hinder our fellowship with the Lord.
I pray that we won’t let the familiarity of Christian service cloud our focus for the Lord. If you have strayed from the Lord, He can be found where you left Him.