Luke 2:43-45 - And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for Him.
The temple at Jerusalem, despite its corruption and worldliness, had a strong appeal for the twelve-year-old Jesus when He first visited it at that Passover Festival. As He saw the lamb slain in sacrifice, He could foresee the shadow of His own cross, on which He Himself would be offered one day as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29b).
As Jesus witnessed the sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts and lintels (the assurance that the angel of death would pass over the believer's household without spreading destruction, see Exodus 12:1-28), He must have beheld in His spirit His own blood to be shed on Calvary to cleanse mankind of sin's damning curse. It was His blood—the very blood because of which God Himself would pass over the penitent sinner of Judgment Day.
No wonder then that Jesus stayed in the temple, deeply engrossed in its rites and ceremonies, which pointed to His own future sacrifice. But great wonder that Joseph and Mary started their return back home without Christ! Yet the Savior's parents were not infallible saints, only human beings. Perhaps the service and sacrifices of the Passover Festival so thrilled Jesus' mother and father that they were too deeply engrossed in spiritual matters to think of everyday questions. And on their way they went.
However, Christ was not lost to His parents forever. "After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" (Luke 2:46). Indeed, He is never completely lost to those who seek Him as their Redeemer, since God promises each of us, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). What marvelous mercy this is!
My hope is that you encounter Jesus today like Mary and Joseph did—in God's temple, in a true church, where His full Gospel is preached. Our Lord remained in the temple to learn. Lovingly, He sought out the sanctuary of His Father. Today, we too need God's fellowship and the forgiveness He so richly offers.
As the prophet Isaiah has said, "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
My prayer is that you find a Gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting church where you will meet Jesus and the communion of His saints.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, lead us to faith in Jesus and into fellowship with other believers. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From "Jesus—Lost and Found," a sermon by Rev. Dr. Walter A. Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. As a kid were you ever lost or left behind someplace? Do you recall your reaction to that?
2. How do you think Mary and Joseph traveled so far from Jerusalem before realizing Jesus wasn't with them?
3. Did you/do you have a mentor in the Christian faith who is vitally important to you?
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