Chapter 9 - Lost and Found
by Helen Dowd

Nazareth, the little city on a hillside, was eleven hundred feet above the sea, a secluded spot, perfect for bringing up his family. And Joseph and Mary's family grew in number.

Luke 2:45-46 - "And when they (Joseph and Mary) did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions."

Historical setting:
About 7 A.D. (dates vary, according to different records)
Place: Nazareth, and the temple at Jerusalem
Persons: The boy Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the temple scribes and priests
Scripture: Luke 2:40 - 52

Jesus grew up as a normal boy, enjoying the same things that other children of His age did: exploring the countryside; finding where the foxes had their holes; how the birds built their nests; playing hide-and-seek with His brothers and buddies; sharing secrets with His siblings; bringing home wild flowers for His mother; scraping His knees on rocks; doing the many other things that parents down through the ages have seen their children do. Despite stories we may have heard of Jesus performing miracles while He was a child, there is no record of His doing so. He grew as a typical child, doing the duties that children are expected to do, and no doubt helping Joseph in his carpentry.

Each year Hebrew men were required to make three pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Exodus 23:14-17 - "Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)- Feast of Harvest (First fruits of their labors)- Feast of Ingathering (after the final harvest)- Three times a year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God."

Thousands of devout Jews poured into Jerusalem, from Syria, Chaldea, Egypt, Rome, Antioch, and many other places. On many occasions whole families would make the trek for the feast of the Passover. Children scrambled in and out among the crowds, the smaller ones clinging shyly to their mothers' skirts as they trekked their way to Jerusalem, while older boys and girls ran around finding old acquaintances, and making new ones. It was a joyous occasion, one that the whole family looked forward to. Mothers, busy with the care of their families, seldom had time to do much socializing, but they did find it satisfying to be able to be able to compare experiences with each other. And Jesus was amongst the group, sometimes running with the other children and sometimes walking beside His parents.

During the first twelve years of Jesus' life, His knowledge of the Scriptures increased. He was a diligent student, eagerly studying the Hebrew laws. This was Jesus' first recorded trip to Jerusalem, and He was looking forward to the Passover observance and to seeing the Temple that He had heard his parents talk about. While other children may have fidgeted during the formalities, eager for the ceremonies to be finished so that they could run and play, Jesus sat spellbound by all that the Scribes and Priests were saying. Everything that had been mulling around in His mind was coming together. He had so many questions He wanted to ask the learned men that were reading the Scriptures to the group.

The Passover ceremonies were over. It was time for the families to disperse and begin their long treks back to their individual homes. Again the roads were swarming with travelers, refreshed in spirit, but eager to get back to their normal lives. Children ran playfully around, chasing each other, glad to be active again. It was a jolly and spirited group that enjoyed fellowship on their journey home, Mary and Joseph among them. It was now the end of the first day on the road, time to make camp. Parents called their children to them to settle them in for the night. Mary and Joseph, expecting that Jesus was amongst the group of children, had not worried up until now. But He had not shown up. Where could He be? They began to ask around to the many others who had children near to Jesus' age. "Have you seen Jesus? Has He been with your children?"

No. No one had seen Jesus. Where could He be? As they checked around at the many camps, without finding Him, their worry turned into panic. What could have happened to their Son? Forgetting how weary they were, and forgetting how eager they had been earlier, to get back to the rest of their family, and ignoring the fact that it was now dark, Mary and Joseph headed back to Jerusalem.

How could this have happened? How could they not have noticed? Their emotions went from annoyance to worry. Jesus was old enough to be responsible for His actions. He knew that it had been time to go home. Surely He saw the families grouping together. So what could have happened to Him? Had He gone the wrong way, following a group of travelers going in the opposite direction? Surely not! He was an intelligent Boy. In their normal parental concern, they forgot that Jesus was the Son of God. To them He was their son, under their care. And they were responsible for His well being. Oh where could He be?

As a new day began to break they had reached the outskirts of Jerusalem. Where, in this vast city would they begin to look? It was now almost three days since they had seen their Son. As the weariness of their bodies increased, so did their panic. Where was Jesus? It wasn't until the day was nearly over that some of the thoughts that Mary had kept stored in her heart began to trickle into her mind....

"Let's go back to the Temple." she suggested. "That would be a logical place to find Him."

As they hurried toward the Temple, Mary and Joseph discussed how Jesus had sat enthralled during the ceremonies, listening to the Scriptures being read. They became silent, hastening their pace.

Entering the Temple, they heading straight to where they had last seen Jesus. There He was, "sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions." Relieved beyond words, they stood for a few moments, listening to Him, amazed at His knowledge, watching as the astonished Scribes and Priests asked Him questions.

Mary went up to Him. And as a worried mother is bound to do, she began scolding Him. "Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I have sought You anxiously."

Jesus just looked at her, and with the simplicity of a child, but with the maturity of an adult, He said, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"

This was the first time that Jesus had made a distinction between His earthy father and His Heavenly Father. And to Joseph and Mary the meaning of these words did not immediately register. But as Mary always did, she kept these things stored up in her heart. Their meaning would become clear at a much later date.

Still stunned by His wisdom, the Priests and Scribes bid farewell to the Boy Jesus, as He obediently went home with Mary and Joseph.

For twelve years Joseph had been Jesus' father, and until Jesus was fully mature, or until Joseph died, he would carry on being His father. Jesus continued to mature, both physically and spiritually, growing in favor with God and men.


Helen Dowd

Continue with Study 10 - Full Circle


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