Have you ever heard this announcement over the Public Address system at a crowded, holiday shopping mall… “Your Attention Please! We have two lost parents. Would the parents of Bobby and Susie please come to the store office so that your children may find you?” We may chuckle a little, and perhaps nervously, because most of us recognize just how easily it can happen! Has it ever happened to you? It certainly happened to Mary and Joseph! But, how could they be so careless as to lose Jesus? And for several days, at that!
They were a good and faithful Jewish family so it had been their habit for years, along with many other faithful believers, to make the 65-mile, four-day journey up to Jerusalem to worship and to celebrate the Passover. (See Exodus, Chapter 12 and Exodus 23: 14-17)
There was safety, conversation and fellowship among the travelers of such large caravans. Finally, when it was time to leave for home, the Holy Family was a part of this large group so, it wasn’t until the end of the first day’s travel when Mary and Joseph stopped to put up their tent for the evening, that they finally discovered Jesus wasn’t among their relatives and friends. He was nowhere to be found!
They must have been terribly worried! Wouldn’t you have been? A twelve-year-old boy without money, food or a place to stay – lost and alone in “the big city!” “When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him.” (Luke 2:45)
Twelve years earlier (Luke 1:48) Mary sang “all generations will call me blessed,” but now she must have thought that “all generations will call me irresponsible!” The “first Eve” brought sin into the world and now Mary, “the second Eve,” had lost the Child who would take away the sins of the world and would deliver the world from sin, death and the power of the devil! Mary who had once considered it a great privilege to be the mother of our Lord must have wished God had given that job to someone else!
“After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.” (Luke 2:46-47)
Not only did Mary and Joseph lose Jesus, but we have too! Remember that God’s Word tells us, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6) God has given Jesus to you, but have you ever lost Him? Sometimes it happens suddenly when a crisis or a tragedy strikes. We thought that He was by our side, but then we ask, “Where was He when I needed Him the most?” He never left us. We left Him. Or, sometimes it happens gradually. Jesus drifts away “unnoticed” when we are distracted by our own needs or the pressures of life until something makes us realize that He is missing and we stop to say, “Where is He?” If Mary and Joseph can lose Jesus, so can we!
Jesus has never been lost. We have! He was exactly where He was supposed to be – in the temple doing His Father’s work. Twenty-plus years later, His disciples thought that He was lost when He died on Calvary. But He wasn’t lost. He was exactly where He needed to be on the cross dying for the sins of the world; and in the tomb sanctifying the graves of believers; then raised from the dead to bring life to all those who believe in Him! Our Heavenly Father agonizes when His children go missing. When we were lost in sin and death, it was Jesus who came to find, rescue and save us!
As He sent the angels to guide the shepherds and the star to guide the Wise Men, so our Father guides us back to Himself through the Church “where He is found” in the preaching of His Word; in the waters of Holy Baptism; and in the Bread and Wine which deliver His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins.
Thanks be to God who sent our Savior as the Good Shepherd in order to “Seek and save the Lost” (Luke 19:10) – you and me!
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,