We often think of Jesus as our personal Answer Man – the One who will guide our every step and answer our every question. And it’s true! In Psalm 32:8 He promises, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”
Yet Jesus was more than an Answer Man. He was also a Question Man, one who asked more questions than He answered during His time on earth. His probing inquiries provide direction for our lives as much as His answers because they often invite us to examine our motives.
This is especially true of the questions Jesus asked His parents on His first trip to Jerusalem for the Passover services. His questions apply to us, especially at this Christmas season, just as they did to Mary and Joseph. His questions and the story are found in Luke 2:41-50.
“Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49
It was Jesus’ first trip to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. He relished the journey as only a 12-year-old boy can. As He passed each storied place along the road, His vivid imagination brought each story of God’s deliverance to life. His faith grew as they climbed the hills leading to Jerusalem. This was the place God had chosen for His dwelling place!!
Mary and Joseph “went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.” For them this trip was full of joy, yet ordinary and commonplace. They smiled at Jesus’ enthusiasm and enjoyed His eagerness to take in everything. But they could not understand the quiet reflectiveness that came over Him as He watched the sacrificial services. “What is going on in His heart and mind?” they must have wondered.
Far more was happening behind His thoughtful eyes than His parents realized. Every time a lamb was sacrificed, and his eyes flooded with tears, it became clearer to Him who He was. “Day by day He saw [the] meaning [of the sacrifices] more clearly. Every act seemed to be bound up with His own life. New impulses were awakening within Him. Silent and absorbed, He seemed to be studying out a great problem. The mystery of His mission was opening to the Saviour.” Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 78
Jesus’ parents were oblivious to the inner workings of in His heart. “When they had finished the days” of the Passover feast they packed up and returned home unaware that Jesus was no longer with them. He had “lingered behind in Jerusalem.”
It wasn’t until evening came that Mary and Joseph realized their mistake. Sudden panic seized them as they remembered how Herod had tried to kill Jesus as an infant. They frantically “sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances” but to no avail. The next day “returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”
Another day passed before they “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”
Mary and Joseph listened with amazement as Jesus gently probed the learned teachers. His questions revealed an understanding of the prophecies that His parents did not comprehend. Where had He learned these things? they wondered.
Yet their wonder quickly dissipated in the frustration of their search. How could He have done this to them? He was their son! He’d always been trustworthy before. How could He have been so irresponsible?
“Son, why have you done this to us?” Mary demanded. “Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
Jesus’ answering question should have opened their eyes to see Him in a new light. “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
“But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.”
Routine vs. Revelation
This story of Jesus first trip to the temple is full of contrasts. Do you see them?
Jesus is young, eager to learn. His parents have done this all before.
Jesus is “lingering”. His parents “had finished the days” of the Passover.
Jesus is seeking truth. His parents are seeking a lost son.
Jesus is learning God’s plans for His life. His parents left God’s plan for them behind.
Joseph and Mary love God with all their hearts and are doing their best to raise His Son well. They cannot forget visits of the shepherds or the wise men from the east. Simeon and Anna’s words of joy and the angel’s prophecies are all there, hung in memory’s hall. But time and the rush of daily life has obscured them.
This journey to Jerusalem is simply another long journey to fulfill their religious duties. Of course, they understand their Jewish history and want to worship God in Jerusalem. But the routineness of what they are doing has dulled their spiritual senses to the lessons God is desiring to teach them.
Jesus has grown up immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, both by His parent’s instruction and His own choice. The stories of His birth have been told and retold. Now He is coming to Jerusalem for the first time and His spiritual senses are on high alert. He is ready and willing to listen to God. So God teaches Him.
Christmas – Routine or Revelation?
Christmas is joyous time of year. Filled with family and friends, it delights us with lights, music and presents. We celebrate the birth of Christ, but do we truly know Him?
Are we like Jesus, lingering in God’s presence at this special time of year? Are we seeking to know God’s will for our lives?
Or are we like His parents, who’d lost their wonder at God’s gifts because they’d seen it all before? Does Christmas rush past without us knowing Jesus, the true reason for this season?
Why Did You Seek Me?
“Why did you seek me?” Jesus asked His parents when they discovered Him in the temple school. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
His questions seem counterintuitive to every parent. Of course a loving parent would seek their lost child!
Jesus has something more in mind with His question. He is inviting His parents to think about who He really is and their true motivation for seeking Him.
Joseph and Mary know He is God’s Son. But do they realize that He is their Messiah? That He will save them from their sins? Are they grasping the significance of the mission He has come to fulfill? Is the spiritual calling on their lives the highest priority for them?
Why Are You Seeking Me?
Dear friend, where do you see yourself in this story? Like Mary and Joseph, are you absorbed in the busyness of this Christmas season, in its lights, presents and joy? Or like Jesus, are you lingering in God’s presence, eager to know His will for your life?
This Christmas, Jesus is inviting you and I to seek Him earnestly.
He is the Light of Life: “In Him was the life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4
He is the best present God can give: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
He offers us His joy. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Do you want to know Him as your Best Friend and Savior? Then set aside time to linger in His presence this Christmas.
“Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.” Hosea 6:3
What are you seeking this Christmas?
Read Luke 2 seven times. What parallels do you see between the stories of the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and the young Jesus in the temple? What contrasts stand out? How do the attitudes of the various people in the stories differ? What is God teaching you through these stories?
All Scriptures taken from the New King James Version.