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Mary and Joseph knew from before Jesus was born that He was very special. They knew that He was the Son of the Most High God. Even as a little toddler growing into a bigger boy, Jesus never ever disobeyed or sinned! Not once! Even when He was a little child, like you, He never made God sad by disobeying even one time.
But, Jesus was still a little boy! He liked to play and laugh and sometimes get dirty. So sometimes Mary and Joseph would sort of forget just how special Jesus was.
One year, when Jesus was only 12 years old, Joseph and Mary took Him up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It was a long trip. After the Passover party was over, it was time to go back home. So Joseph and Mary packed up their stuff and left Jerusalem.
After they’d been traveling for awhile, Joseph thought, “Hmmm… I wonder where Jesus is.” He looked around and didn’t see Him, but thought, “Jesus must be around here somewhere.” So, they kept on traveling.
(It’s important to know that God’s Children were one big Family — traveling together, eating together, working together. So it wouldn’t have necessarily seemed unusual for Jesus to have been with some of His other Family in the caravan.)
A few hours later, Mary thought, “I’m going to go find Jesus and make sure He’s had dinner.”
“Jesus? Hmmm? Jesus?” Not over here.
“Have you seen Jesus?” Nope, not over there.
“Is Jesus with you? No? Where could He be?”
Now Mary and Joseph were starting to get worried. They searched the whole caravan and didn’t find Him anywhere.
Finally they realized, “WE’VE LOST JESUS! We must have left Him back in Jerusalem!”
So they immediately turned back to Jerusalem. “Hurry. Hurry. Hurry! We must get back to find Jesus!” Once they got there, they searched, searched, searched for Him.
High, low, left, right, this street, that street, this house, that house. One whole day. High, low, left, right, this street, that street, this house, that house. Two whole days. High, low, left, right, this street, that street, this house, that house. THREE whole days.
“Where was Jesus???”
Then a stranger pointed to the Temple. “I’ve heard there’s a young boy over there, talking to the teachers of God’s Law.”
Mary and Joseph looked at each other. That had to be Jesus! Off they ran to God’s House as fast as they could.
Jesus! There He was, right in the middle of a bunch of teachers! He was respectfully listening to them, but He was also asking them questions — really good questions! And Jesus even had some answers to some of their questions. No one had ever heard a young boy say things like this before. It was astonishing! The teachers of the Law were AMAZED at the understanding this young boy Jesus had to their questions. Everyone who heard Jesus was filled with awe and wonder. They really liked this little fella. How could He know so much?
Do you think Jesus just all of a sudden knew all this stuff about God? Or do you think He heard a voice from God in His head telling Him all the right things to say? I don’t think so…
Could it be that Jesus, from a very young age, even younger than you, was talking to His Heavenly Father, reading His words, and drawing close, close, close to Him from the very beginning of His life? Could that be why He was able to talk to the teachers like this now? That’s what I think.
Joseph and Mary ran over to Jesus. Mary was confused and little emotional. “Jesus! We were so worried. Why have You treated us like this? We’ve been very upset and search, search, searching for You for three whole days!”
Jesus was a little confused too, but calmly responded, “But, Mom, why did you have to search, search, search for Me? Didn’t you know you could find Me right here in the middle of My Daddy’s Life? My Daddy is always working and I have to be in the middle of His Stuff of Life.
Now Mary and Joseph were even more confused. They didn’t understand what Jesus meant.
But Jesus went home with them to Nazareth and continued to obey them.
He grew, grew, grew. He grew taller and stronger. He grew deeper and wiser. And He grew in favor with both God and man. (That means God and people really liked Him.)
By the way, if you ever lose track of Jesus and don’t know where to look, try looking in the middle of His Daddy’s Stuff of Life — because He’s often busy with His Daddy’s Work and Life around home. (And we’ll talk more about this later because very soon in our story, you’ll see that God’s shadow home is going away and the Father will invite people into His Real Home.)