11: Jesus in His Father's House
The Passover festival in Jerusalem was over, and the streets were no longer crowded. Mary and Joseph went through Jerusalem's gate with their travel companions. They did not have Jesus beside them, but that didn't worry them.
They had not been able to locate Him in the crowd. He must have gone ahead of them with other people in their party. Jesus was always sensible and obedient; there was no need to worry. They would catch up with Him soon enough.
Mary and Joseph kept an eye open for Jesus as they walked. They asked people if anyone had seen Him. At last they became uneasy, for by evening they still had not found Him.
The anxiety in Mary's heart grew. She did not sleep that night. She couldn't sleep, for she couldn't get her missing son out of her mind.
Early the next morning Mary and Joseph went back to Jerusalem. They passed many groups of people on their way home from celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph anxiously scanned each group, but by the time they reached Jerusalem's gate, they still had not found their son.
Mary allowed herself no rest. She hurried through the quiet city streets. Whenever she met people she knew, she asked, "Have you seen my son Jesus?" They all shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders.
Mary was crying, but she kept walking through the city's streets—down one street and up another. Again darkness descended.
It was a night of watching and praying for Mary, a restless night of tossing and turning. She simply didn't understand it. She was so tired and so afraid that she could hardly think.
Perhaps there had been an accident! Perhaps Jesus was dead! Or perhaps He had left the city after all. Why would He have stayed behind in the city after being so obedient all His life?
The next day she wandered through the city again, searching and asking questions. She was pale with fear and sorrow. Still her searching was in vain.
The third day she finally went to the temple. She had almost given up hope. Even the temple was quiet. Here and there a priest went about his work. A few pious people prayed quietly. The voices of scholars instructing their students in the law came from some rooms.
Mary and Joseph looked all through the temple. When Mary with tears in her eyes looked into one of the rooms, she almost cried out in surprise. There was her son! There He sat, calm as ever, with dignified scholars surrounding Him. He was exchanging ideas with them. The scholars were amazed at all that Jesus knew and at the answers He gave them.
Mary was deeply shaken when she saw how calmly Jesus was sitting there. He had been peacefully conversing with old men in the temple while she had been suffering so much anxiety on His account.
Mary ran to Jesus and threw her arms around Him. "My child," she sobbed, "why have You done this to me? Your father and I have been worried sick about You!"
"Your father and I!" Like the people of Nazareth, Mary called Joseph Jesus' father.
Jesus had His answer ready. "Why were you looking for Me?" He asked in a friendly way. "Didn't you know that I must be busy in My Father's house?"
When Mary heard those words, she realized that her child had not been disobedient at all. It was not Jesus that had sinned but Mary. She had forgotten who Jesus' Father was. The Father could protect Jesus where ever He went.
Yet, Mary did not fully understand Jesus' words. It would not be the last time that she would suffer disappointment because she did not understand Jesus as He sought to do the will of His heavenly Father.
Jesus rose and went obediently out of the temple and along the city streets with Mary. Mary, Joseph and Jesus then went straight back to Nazareth, and arrived there a few days after the others who had attended the Passover festival in Jerusalem.
Joseph again took up his work as carpenter, and Jesus worked alongside him. He was obedient to Mary and Joseph in all things.
Jesus grew and became a man. He also grew in wisdom. People liked Him and thought well of Him. The Father in heaven looked down on Him in blessing.
For eighteen years Jesus remained a carpenter. But He knew that there was other work awaiting Him.
Jesus had come to earth not to make tables and benches but to establish a kingdom. He had not come to be pleasant and friendly to people but to save them.
Finally the day arrived when Jesus would lay down His carpenter's tools forever and leave the home of Joseph and Mary. His time had come.