Losing Jesus, Old School Sunday School 2

February 1, 2015

So, where were you when you lost your kid?  Seriously, if you have children you’ve lost one at
some point or another. And if you haven’t lost one yet you will.  Maybe it was in a grocery store, or on a
street, at Disney Land or perhaps at church. 
But you remember the moment when panic set in and you realized that you
didn’t know where your child was.
When I was little my mother looked on the street
from our apartment and thought “I wonder what type of mother would let their toddler in diapers
wander down the middle of the street.”  Then it dawned on her that she was that type of mother and I had
escaped again.  Once when I was locking
up the church in Truro I realized that I had an extra three year old with
Deborah.  Kellie’s parents had arrived in
separate vehicles and when they left they both thought Kellie was with the
other one, it wasn’t until they got home that Ron and Kim realized they had misplaced
their youngest.
Our moment came in Arlie Beach in Queensland
Australia.  Arlie Beach is about a 12
hour drive from Brisbane where we were living at the time, it is a beautiful
little resort town on the very edge of the great barrier reef and it is full of
strange people.
We had spent our day on the reef, first on a
semi-submersible and then snorkelling and scuba diving on the reef itself.  It was a full day.  When we got back to town and had supper we
were visiting some of the shops and Angela and I split up and it was only when
we got back together that we realized that we had our nine year old but we didn’t have our six
year old, again with the “I thought she was with you” discussion.  Panic ensued as we started to retrace our
steps looking for our “baby”.  We eventually found her back at the dive shop
we had visited earlier looking at pictures from our dive.  She assumed that we would come back, if not
for her at least for the pictures. 
And most parents have a similar story, perhaps
more dramatic perhaps less but you know that sudden hollow feeling in your
stomach.
And it is in the
book of Luke that we find the only accounts of Jesus as a child and in this
snippet we read about the time Mary and Joseph lost their oldest kid.  I’m sure that
Mary and Joseph told the story of their trip to Jerusalem on many occasions,
recounting the horror of that day.  The
story starts in Luke 2:41-42 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for
the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the
festival as usual.
Culturally we are
told that it was required by Jewish law that every adult male who lived within
20 kms of Jerusalem should go to the temple in the capital city for the
Passover celebration.  It was also
decreed that under Jewish law that at 13 a boy became a man.  So this was a very special occasion for
Jesus.  This wasn’t the first time that Jesus had been in Jerusalem for the Passover,
but it would be the last time he would celebrate the feast as a child and I’m sure he was looking forward to next year. 
The Passover
celebration lasted for several days and culminated in the Passover Feast; it
was the biggest holiday in the Jewish faith and was a major celebration.  Mary and Joseph and their family would have
been there with friends and extended family from Nazareth and we are told that
they probably didn’t travel alone, 
Those in the know
tell us that in all probability the women and children would have travelled as
a group and the men would have travelled as a group.  You only have to go to a social function
today to realize that things haven’t changed
much.  We are also told that the women
and children would have left earlier in the morning and travelled slower while
the men would have left later but travelled faster, and every one would have
ended up at the destination around the same time.
Because of Jesus’ age he could have travelled with either group, he was really neither
fish nor fowl.  Young enough to still
travel with the women and children if he wished but old enough to tag along
with the men.  And that is where the
trouble began, because it would appear that when Joseph got ready to head out
with the men he assumed that Jesus was with his mother, while Mary had assumed
that Jesus would follow with the men and older boys.  And you know what happens when we assume
right?  That’s
right sometimes we are wrong.
Luke 2:43-45 After the
celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in
Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the
other travellers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they
started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to
Jerusalem to search for him there.   Can you imagine the panic? 
The finger pointing?  The
fear?  Mary and Joseph would have split
up and began canvasing all of the other groups. 
Who had seen Jesus?  Where and
when?  By the time they had finished it
was very apparent that no one had seen Jesus at all through that day.  When they couldn’t find him we are told they left the group and headed back to
Jerusalem on their own.  But how would
they find him?  They came from the little
town of Nazareth and Jerusalem was the largest city in the country.  Perhaps not Toronto size but certainly the
task before them was daunting.
And
so they hunted, they went back to their accommodations and Jesus wasn’t there, they went to where they had eaten and Jesus wasn’t there, they looked up the new friends they had made during the
days they had been celebrating and no Jesus. 
We
aren’t told but we have to assume
they went to the authorities with no results and checked whatever served for
emergency health care to see if a twelve year old boy had been brought in, but
to no avail.  We don’t know if Mary and Joseph had brought their other children back to
Jerusalem with them, or if they had sent them ahead with family members but
when it seemed that all the avenues had been exhausted we read this Luke 2:46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple,
sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
We don’t know what
took them to the temple, if they were looking for Jesus or if in desperation
they returned to the centre of their spiritual lives to pray for their son and
to seek comfort from their God.  Whatever
it was that took them to the temple took them to their son.  Isn’t it always
the way, you find what you are looking for in the last place you look.  Which is one of the dumbest things people
say.   Just once wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone say “Yep I
found it in the third from the last place I looked.  I had a list of places I needed to look so
even after I found it I just kept right on looking.”
In
this case it kind of makes you wonder what would have happened if they had of
gone to the temple to ask for prayer before they looked all over
Jerusalem.   But Mary and Joseph were
like most of us, we try to do it on our own first and only after it becomes
apparent that we can’t do it do we ask God for help.
I
wonder about the range of emotions that Mary and Joseph must have felt when
they saw Jesus there right as rain in a conversation with the teachers of
religious law?  From “I can’t believe you are all right we
were so worried about you.” To “What
were you thinking, your father and I were worried sick.” To “You are going to get the spanking of your life when you get home
young man.”
It appears it was
somewhere in the middle, you understand that we are just getting snippets of
the conversation, we are hearing the high points not all the minutia that
actually makes up a conversation, so we hear Luke 2:47-48 All who heard
him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his
mother said to him, “why have you done this to
us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”  That’s a good motherly response, lead with guilt.   And we can read it any number of ways
because we don’t know the tone of voice that
Mary used, the volume of her words, the look on her face or whether she was
hugging Jesus or shaking him. 
And he responds by
saying Luke 2:49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”   It might be
blasphemy, and you might want to stand back in case the lighting strikes, but
reading that I think I would have reached out and slapped the kid.  Arrrggghhh. 
And I have never hit either of my kids in anger, although there have
been times. 
Most of the
commentators agree that this was a pivotal point in Jesus’ life, that it was at point that he became aware of who he was and
the task that lay before him.  There are
all kinds of stories, legends and tales of Jesus as a child but this is the
only biblical account of Jesus’ childhood.   Up to this account the sum total of what we
know about Jesus as a child is summed up in these words in Luke 2:39-40 When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the
Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up
healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favour was on him.
We don’t know all of
the intricacies and mechanics that went into God becoming man but somehow I
doubt if he had a full awareness of who he was before this stage.  If he was to truly experience what it was to
be fully human how do you do that with an awareness that you are God at the age
of three?
And so it was here that in whatever fashion for
whatever reason the switch was tripped and Jesus became aware of his deity and
his destiny.  Had Mary and Joseph forgot
the wonder of his birth, maybe the everyday had caused them to lose sight of
the eternal and suddenly Mary and Joseph were reminded of who their son truly
was, not the son of Joseph creator of tables and chairs but the son of God, creator
and master of the universe. I wonder if for Joseph he suddenly remembered “That’s right I’m not his father.”  
As William Barclay tells
us in the Daily Study Bible “Here we have the story of the day when Jesus
discovered who he was.”
Adam Clarke adds to that in his
commentary “According to the
Jewish canons, it was the age at which they were obliged to begin to learn a
trade.”   And so it would appear that Jesus had chosen his path, listen to the
statement that Jesus made Luke 2:49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”   That Jesus had
chosen his path and was beginning to learn his trade and it ultimately would
have nothing to do with carpentry. 
But
this morning I don’t want to focus on Jesus
discovery instead I want to focus on the question “How do we lose Jesus?”  Because we all know people
who had a close personal relationship with Christ but now they don’t, and the question is: How does that happen?  And maybe you are in that position yourself,
you are sitting there today thinking, “That’s me, I used to have that
relationship but now it’s different, what happened?”
Some thoughts on losing Jesus,
would apply to Mary and Joseph and might apply to you or someone you know.
1) It
Was Not Intentional There is nothing to lead us to
believe that this was part of the plan.  
 I don’t think that Mary and Joseph sat
down and planned how they would ditch the kid. 
“Ok Mary, you sneak out with the other women and the kids, and then
when Jesus is looking for you I’ll slip out
the back door.”  I don’t think it happened that way, I
think that it was a total shock at the end of the day when they suddenly
realized that Jesus wasn’t with them.
When we lost
Deborah in Arlie Beach it wasn’t intentional,
we didn’t plan to lose her and she didn’t plan to get lost but she did.
And in the same way
I don’t think that anyone becomes a
Christ follower thinking “Someday I won’t be this close to Jesus, someday Jesus will no longer be a part of
my life.”  That’s not to say that along the way some people don’t make a conscious decision to walk away from Jesus and his
teachings, but that wasn’t part of the plan from the
beginning.
So what happened?
I think Busyness
Played a Part.  It
was a crazy morning, Joseph was trying to get things organized for the trip and
Mary was trying to round up the kids. 
They weren’t busy with bad things or evil things they were just busy.  And to be fair their busyness had a lot to do
with good things, they had been in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover that was
good.  Joseph needed to get back to the
carpenter’s shop and perhaps as he walked with the other men he talked
business and found new customers, that was good.   Mary was tending to the children and
enjoying being with her friends those were good things.  But in their busyness they lost sight of the
fact that with every step they were moving further away from their first born.
The urgent often distracts us from the eternal,
we become caught up with the here and now and lose sight of the there and
then.  We become so busy with life and
all that involves that we lose sight of God. 
He takes a back seat to career, and sports and school and holidays and
yard work and and and.  Not bad things
but we can become so busy that we miss the important things.  My Daddy used to say, “The hurrier I go the behinder I get.”
Which is why Jesus
reminds us in Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live
righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Slow down, take a breath, look around and find
Jesus.
I think Carelessness
Played a Part Perhaps they were seeing Jesus in a
different light than how they had seen him previously.  He wasn’t a little boy any longer he was growing up and
taking on more responsibility for himself and his younger siblings.
And they had never lost him before.  But a year ago they were paying more
attention to the whereabouts of their son; they made sure they knew where he
was and who he was playing with.  A year
ago they would have been certain of his location and wouldn’t have simply
assumed that he was with the other parent. 
It might not be flattering but they had become careless with their
child.
And to a certain degree if we look at times that
our children have gone missing it has been through carelessness.  Things distracted us and it’s been awhile
since we checked on them and then there they were, gone. 
When we were getting ready to move to Australia
we knew that we were going to be going through a number of busy airports with a
three year old and a five year old so we decided to take precautions.  So we bought wrist leashes, not a big deal
now but twenty five years ago more so. 
And to get the kids used to them we started using them in the mall,
Stephen figured that since he was on a leash he should bark, which led to interesting
conversations.  And some old folks
actually criticized us for putting our kids on a tether, but we never lost
them.
If we were honest
when we discover that Jesus isn’t where he
used to be in our life it can often be traced back to carelessness.  Do you remember in the book of Revelation
John is reading letters to the seven churches of Asia that he had received from
Christ in a vision.  And to the church in
Ephesus these scary words are written: Revelation 2:4 “But I
have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”  In the NKJV it reads
this way, Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless
I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
The Christ
followers in Ephesus didn’t love Christ
the way they once had and that happens, if we were to be truthful today the
flames of that love might not be as hot as they once were.  And that happens for the same reason it
happens in other relationships, we take things for granted and get
careless.  We do things that we would
never have done when we were dating or courting or in the first few years of
marriage.
And in our
relationship with Christ, when we first started to follow “The Jesus Way” we were hungry for his word,
wanted to be in church at every opportunity, wanted to be around other Christ
followers and wanted to talk to Jesus on a regular basis.  But then life stepped in and we became
careless in our church attendance, our prayer life our bible reading and who we
were spending our time with.  And before
long it could be said about us as it was about the Peter when Jesus was on his
way to the cross, Matthew 26:58 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance . . .
But no matter the
reason, ultimately what happened that day in Jerusalem was a Result of Choices they Made    Mary and Joseph probably wouldn’t think that way; they would say they didn’t choose to lose Jesus but they did. 
Because they chose to assume that Jesus was with them, because they made
the decision to not check with the other person. 
Listen up, this is
important.  Just because it wasn’t an intentional decision on their behalf it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t Mary and
Josephs’ fault.  It doesn’t matter how you slice it they were the adults and he was the kid,
they were supposed to make sure that he was with them. It wasn’t the twelve year old’s job to make sure he was where he was supposed to be, it was the
parents.
We live in a
society that we like to think that some things aren’t anyone’s fault, that’s just the way it happened.  I
heard someone talking about a car accident their daughter had and another
person asked “Whose fault was it?” to which the first man replied “It was nobody’s fault, it was an accident.”  It might not have
been intentional, it may have been an accident but it was still someone’s fault. Unless the ground in front of her suddenly opened up and
swallowed her car or a meteorite landed on top of her car it was probably
somebody’s fault.   You see, I think that we get faultless and
blameless mixed up.
For example, I tend
to be a bit of a klutz, if you had invited us over for tea and cookies and
served me tea in your great grandmother’s fine china
and I accidentally set my cup too close to the edge of the coffee table and it fell on
the floor and broke you might say it was nobody’s fault but that would be incorrect. 
I might be blameless in the sense that I didn’t mean for it to happen but it was still my fault for putting the cup
too close to the edge.  And to a certain
degree if you knew me you would have to say you were at least partially to
fault because you didn’t serve me out of plastic or
stainless steel.
If your
relationship with Jesus isn’t what it used
to be it is because of choices you have made and decisions you have made on how
to lead your life and what would be a priority for you.  I love the story and tell it often about the
old farmer and his wife driving along in the pickup and she asks “How come we don’t sit all
cuddled up like we used to?”  To which the farmer replied “I ain’t moved.” 
And here is the
reality, if you find yourself further away from Christ than you once were, he
ain’t moved.
Jesus didn’t run away from Mary and Joseph, he didn’t leave them behind they left him behind. 
And now here is the good news, You Can Choose to Come Back to Jesus  Mary and Joseph could
have chosen to keep going.  They could
have rationalized that it was too much of a problem to travel back to
Jerusalem; they were already too far away to go back, it wasn’t that far to
home, Joseph had business he had to attend to at home and besides they had
other kids. 
But they didn’t choose to leave him behind
they went back to find him.  And it took
time and energy and tears but they found him.
What will it take for you to get back to where
you were in our relationship with Christ? 
To rediscover your first love?   I
don’t know, but you do?  Like any
relationship your relationship with God requires work and effort the question
is: is that a commitment you are willing to make?  And only you can answer that question.  
But here are a couple of suggestions, the best
place to find Jesus is still in His Father’s house, that would be
church.  Take time to talk to him, that’s prayer and
let him talk to you, that’s reading His word, the Bible and being obedient to his
commandments.