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.
Dear God, just this first sentence makes me think about those times when I was so mad at my child when they were little and, after I’d really built up my anger towards them and how I was going to really get onto them when I saw them, I would find them, hear their explanation, and realize that they hadn’t really done anything wrong at all, but, instead, had done their best to do the right thing. I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph were feeling as they searched Jerusalem for three days. I wonder where they went for those three days. What was the first place they looked? The second place? It took three days (coincidence?) to find him in the temple. I wonder why that wasn’t closer to the top of their list.
So they find him and they are probably ready to let him have it. How do I know? Because we think this account is being told to Luke by Mary and she remembers herself saying, “Son, why have you treated us like this?” Forget the idea of being grateful he was alive. She was just angry at him. She might have been telling herself (and Joseph) that if she found him alive she was going to kill him. How could he do this to her (them)?!?
To be clear, I don’t blame Mary for this and I don’t think Jesus did either. He explained himself fairly innocently, but he also learned–as most teenagers need to learn–that his actions impacted the lives of others as well. Jesus still needed some parenting here too. He was still piecing together who he was and how he should proceed.
Father, my children are grown now and finding their own way, but as long as I’m here I think you’ll have some role for me to play in their lives. It might be diminishing. It might be changing. It might be to simply offer at least one source of unconditional love in their lives–one safe place. If that’s what you have for me, so be it. And also help me to be the son you need me to be for my parents and my wife’s father. Help me to adequately express my love for them and know how to receive from them the things you need me to have.
In Jesus’s name I pray,