48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Okay, parents, let’s admit it: Don’t we wish our own kids were always doing God’s business, so we never had to worry where they were or what they were doing? Even Jesus’ parents were anxious when they couldn’t find Him. They looked for Jesus for three days (a significant number), and it wasn’t until they found Him at the Temple that they realized what He was doing.
Having found Jesus in the temple, Mary admonishes Him. Knowing the gospel story in its fullness, as I read her words – “Why have You done this to us?” – I feel like shouting “Don’t you know what He has yet to go through?!! Treasure this time and be glad that this tranquil moment is the least He will face!” At this point in His life, the teachers at the temple just treat Him as just a somewhat amazing small boy. In another twenty years, some of those same teachers will be calling out from the crowd “Crucify Him!”
Mary and Joseph sought Jesus “anxiously,” she says. The literal translation says they sought Him “sorrowing.” Their sorrow was, of course, turned to joy when they found Him, but they still felt it necessary to point out how His actions had caused them to grieve. Their grief and Jesus’ reply reminds me of another scene: at the tomb on the day of His Resurrection. Look at this:
5 Then, as the women were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, the angels said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
6 “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,
7 “saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”
As always, whether teaching in the temple or being resurrected, Jesus is merely going about His Father’s business, fulfilling “all things… which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” concerning Him. (Luke 24:44)
“Why did you seek Me?” Jesus replies to His parents at the age of twelve. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” ask the angels. Why would anyone bother seeking Jesus anywhere except where His Father’s work needs to done? Of course, the catch is that we have to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, so that we know what He is up to, know where we are likely to find Him. If we don’t see Jesus for who He is, then we end up seeking Him in ways and in places where He will not be found. We live deep in our sin and seek Him in the world, and we may even ask our relatives and friends, but we will not find Him there. Only when we have accepted all that Jesus is and all He was done, when we repent and seek God in spirit and in truth, then we will find Him. Jesus Christ is waiting patiently in the temple of our own hearts, ready to teach us through His Father’s Word.
Our Father in Heaven, blessed be the name of Jesus, name above all names. Let us sit at Your feet, Lord Jesus, and be transformed by Your work and Your words. Let us only seek You where you will be found: in the place where You do the Father’s will. Amen.