41Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. Luke 1:41-44
It’s every parents’ nightmare. To lose a child in a crowd is the epitome of child care failure. To make matters worse, this wasn’t just any child, this was the Christ child, the Savior of the world. I can only imagine what was going through their minds as they ran through the family crowds, franticly asked the Uncles and Aunties for help, and eventually chose to retrace their steps back to Jerusalem’s temple. They had let the Angel’s down, they had let the shepherds down, they had let the wise men down, they had let themselves down and they had let God down. All these years they had done a good job caring for the King of Kings and now He was missing. They had come for Passover every year, but this was the Bar Mitzvah of Jesus. He was now considered a man and had entered the age of accountability and they couldn’t even account for his whereabouts.
I don’t stand in judgment of Joseph and Mary by any means. Parenting is pressure enough. Parenting a pre-teen is an increased challenge. Now, parenting the Savior of the World, well that’s a whole other story. Here’s the thing that hit me this morning, “his parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers.” Immediately after reading this I felt the Holy Spirit asking me if I’m not doing the exact same thing! Like Joseph and Mary, have I found myself in the midst of holy celebration and revelry and assumed Jesus was right along side of me? Have I been so busy doing stuff around Him that I don’t even realize He’s not around me? Has the repetition and familiarity of the Christian tradition caused me to lose Jesus in the crowd? Worse yet, how far down the road, how many weekend services would I participate in before I even knew Jesus was missing? These are not comfortable questions to ask, but I don’t want to be comfortable with the idea of a Christianity that doesn’t even need the presence of Christ. A.W. Tozer once made this painfully poignant and prophetic statement: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” So, do I know the difference? Am I missing Jesus? Am I assuming His presence as the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 did? The letters to the seven churches is literally Jesus re-introducing Himself to His people. Like Ephesus, have I fallen in love with what I’m doing for Jesus rather then being with Jesus? Like Sardis, do I look alive on the outside but am dead on the inside? Again, not easy questions to ask, but it’s also not a difficult thing to remedy. Like the churches in Revelation it just requires authentic repentance. Like Joseph and Mary it just requires a singularity of focus and a passionate pursuit of His presence. If I want to make sure Jesus is with me I just have to make sure I’m where Jesus likes to hang out- with the Father. Of course He would be in the Father’s house. It wasn’t Jesus who left his parents, it was his parents who left Jesus. Jesus stayed in the Father’s House. The Church is The Father’s House when we are in passionate pursuit of His presence and not satisfied with anything less.
Like Ezekiel’s prophecy about the Holy City I want to declare this over Your church this morning, “And from that day the name of the city will be ‘The Lord Is There.’(Ezek. 48:35)” Like Moses, we will say with great passion, “I will not take another step forward unless You are walking with me.” I repent for the places where I have been satisfied with a form of godliness while denying Your power. Forgive me for assuming that You are with me simply because I’m participating in Christian traditions. Forgive me for being more enamored with what I’m doing for You then being in love with You. When You’re in the room everything changes. When You’re not in the room, nothing changes. Our world desperately needs Christians who are being daily changed in Your presence. I run back to You my first love. Let me be satisfied with nothing less then You!