After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss Him at first, because they assumed He was among the other travellers. But when He didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for Him there. Three days later they finally discovered Him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” His mother said to Him, “why have You done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for You everywhere.”
“But why did you need to search?” He asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in My Father’s house?”
But they didn’t understand what He meant. Then He returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And His mother stored all these things in her heart. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.Luke 2:43-52
What is going on here? It seems like we have either a naughty boy or parents who are incompetent. Which is it? Some have looked at this section and concluded that Jesus was hardly an obedient child. So doesn’t that negate the Bible comments about Jesus being sinless? And what about parents who don’t even know their boy is missing at first. It took them three days to find him. I would imagine in today’s society CYPS (Child Youth Protection Services) would remove him from their care.
They had no notion at all that he had stayed behind, nor any suspicion of it. Joseph and Mary didn’t miss him for a considerable time likely owing to the large numbers that went in company together. It seems likely that when traveling in a caravan Jesus was totally free to relate to all those in the caravan. Bear in mind those traveling in the caravan were likely to be all from Nazareth and many of them friends and family. Living in the kind of community they did in those years it was highly likely that Jesus had many “parents”. He was totally free to relate to the kids and families around him without fear or supervision. There were lots of mums and dads to supervise him. It is quite likely that there were hundreds of people traveling up together for the celebrations. (I grew up in that kind of environment where I was free to go off for the day with my friends on my bike and returned again at dinner time. There was no threat or harm or marauding child molesters in those days. Children were a lot safer.)
It is highly likely that Joseph thought Jesus was with Mary, and Mary concluded he was with Joseph. The women and children were at the front of the caravan and men brought up the rear. It would have been only when they came to the end of their first day’s journey that they would have known he was not with them. When they came to the end of their first day’s journey, then they would have missed him. At that time they would have searched the camp or the caravan and found him missing. But would have had to have waited until the next day to go back to Jerusalem again. A day’s journey back again and then starting to look for him on the third day. It all makes sense. It not as heinous as it seems at first. No, this all fitted with the cultural practice of the day. As for Mary’s comment to Jesus. How would you say it was said? Was there anger there and Mary was mad at Him? Or were different emotions to the fore? You take time to think about it. After all, it’s your interpretation I am seeking to bring forth.
As to the question of Jesus being naughty and running away from his parents or sneaking off, that is an interpretation that people superimpose on the text. I am sure the connection that Jesus had deep within Himself to the temple and his true roots were what took over at this time. As he says, he had to be in His Father’s house. After all, this is One who is fully God and fully man. Imagine the thoughts and reactions going on in Jesus when finally he is in the temple in the Jerusalem. I am sure he lost all track of time and by then the caravan had left. How could He not be totally absorbed by being in the temple, the House of God.
So there is no evidence of bad parenting or disobedience on Jesus part. It all fits with the normal cultural background and the fact of who this little boy actually was.
It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.Regina Brett
Your child needs your love most when they least deserve it.Anon
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of being thought childish.C S Lewis
Don’t be worried about being thought childish in the light of greater wisdom – we are. Enjoy the freedom of exploring new thoughts.Ian Vail