What was Jesus thinking!?!

My two day-old son, freshly home from the hospital, was being laid down for a nap when my two and a half-year-old daughter surprised me. She insisted on singing to him the song we sang to her every night at bedtime – the first verse of the hymn Precious Lord — all by herself!

Has your child ever surprised you with something that you didn’t expect?

Sometimes things your child does will astonish other people. The Jewish teaching community likely experienced eye-opening amazement with a young boy named Jesus who joined their midst in the Temple courts during the Passover celebration. “Everyone was surprised and impressed that a 12-year-old boy could have such deep understanding and could answer questions with such wisdom” (Luke 2:47).

A public domain painting of Jesus amidst the 'doctors' in the Temple

That sort of thought didn’t percolate through Mary and Joseph’s minds, however. No, this event did not invoke a benign well-look-at-what-our-boy-is-doing sort of moment. Mary and Joseph had frantically searched for Jesus for three days. They couldn’t find him anywhere! Describe Mary and Joseph as anxious; worried sick. When they finally found Jesus in the Temple courts, can’t you hear Mary sputtering:

Jesus, what were you thinking!?

I’ll bet they are stunned by Jesus’ reply.

Why did Jesus stay behind at the Temple?

(a) He was almost a teenager. He wanted to irritate his parents.
(b) He got so wrapped up in his exciting surroundings that he totally lost track of time.
(c) Your reason here _______.

Mary and Joseph had been searching for Jesus. Meanwhile, Jesus was searching for something entirely different.

Jesus was searching for something that all of us look for!

Aren’t we all looking for an explanation for feelings we can’t explain…

  • What is this sacred reverence which hums within us, when we allow it to escape?
  • Why do certain situations (holding a newborn, catching a glimpse of beauty, the receipt of joyous news…) invoke feelings of deep respect, tinged with awe?
  • What is my purpose here on earth?
  • What can I do to promote peace, justice, love and compassion?

Do you suppose that Jesus found what he was looking for?

Have you?

Photo credits:
Jesus in the Temple a painting in the Public Domain by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917), via Wikimedia Commons.

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