Jesus as a Pre-Teen | Part 1: Lost in the Mall
June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020
Every parent knows the anxiety and panic of being temporarily separated from one of their children.
There is one word in that sentence that helps all realize that this story, as difficult as it is, has a happy ending. That one word is “temporarily.”
Let me tell you a story about my family, Scripture-style.
Every year, the womenfolk of my family traveled to the mall for the annual Black Friday according to the custom of the Christmas shopping. The womenfolk included my sister-in-law, Rochelle, her children, Rhonda, Elease and one other grandma, Mrs. Palmer.
Bailey (my niece) was two years of age, and she went with them. After the long hours of Christmas shopping were over, as the womenfolk were preparing to check out, Bailey stayed behind in the dress racks, but her mother, aunts and grandmothers did not know it.
Assuming she was in the shopping party, they went to the checkout line. It was there that they discovered she was not with them, and they began anxiously looking for her among their relatives and friends.
When they did not find her, they returned to the dress racks to look for her. After twenty minutes of frantic searching all over that mall, they were astonished to find her in the mall office, sitting among the security personnel, chatting them up and asking questions.
Did you know that Joseph and Mary and Jesus had a similar story?
When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on him. Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. (Luke 2:39-52)
These two stories are similar, but there are some key differences.
My niece was two; Jesus was 12. In other words, Jesus was a pre-teen.
The age difference between my niece and Jesus was significant, but there were some other key differences, too.
My niece was missing for about twenty minutes; Jesus was missing for FOUR DAYS.
My niece was on a short shopping trip; Jesus was on a long trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem, normally a five-day trip, one way.
Now, I want you to imagine with me, what it would be like for Jesus and his family and friends to travel down from Nazareth and then up to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. It’s ninety miles, one way!
The terrain is not level or friendly. They’re going to walk it. It would probably take five days one way to walk the paths and roads from Nazareth to Jerusalem. There are many others who want to go to Jerusalem too, so the roads would be crowded and festive.
As they neared Jerusalem, they would begin singing the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134). No matter what direction you are coming from, Jerusalem is “up”; ascent means going up.
Can you imagine?
Think about it in terms of today. What if we decided, as a church to walk from our campus in Murfreesboro, TN to Chattanooga, TN? That’s about 100 miles. Think of the logistics. We’re going to need food and water. We’re going to camp out along the way. Making the trek up and over Monteagle. We have a lot of kids and young adults and a few of us that are not so young anymore! The worship team could pick out some songs to encourage us along the way, just like Mary and Joseph would have sung the Psalms of Ascent on their journey.
Jesus and his family made this trip to Jerusalem every year!
Why? Why did Joseph and Mary take Jesus and his brothers and sisters every year to Jerusalem?
Find out in the next blog post. We’ll look at three parenting principles we can learn from Mary and Joseph.
Kevin is a Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.