Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?
Luke 2:36-52 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
If someone was looking for you, would they know where to find you? If you were missing they would look at the places you went most often, places you enjoyed being. They would look where you spent much of your time. Where would that be? In today’s text it says: When He (Jesus) became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” For Jesus, even as a young man, a child of twelve, being where He felt close to God, listening to scripture, asking questions and gaining understanding, was His priority. Perhaps because as it says in John 1:1-5;14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Perhaps Jesus was seeking what was familiar. He was seeking what was natural for Him. We too were made in the image and likeness of God. In Genesis 1:26-27 it says: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. We too, like Jesus, should be drawn to what is natural for us. We should be drawn to our creator, to God, in whose image and likeness we were made.
How many other things take priority in our lives? If people were looking for us, how far down the list might church or a place of worship and prayer be? In Psalm 42:1-2, the psalmist says: As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Are we, like the psalmist, desperate for God? We were created in His image and likeness. It should be natural for us to long for His presence. Fellowship with God is not only something that we should want. It is something that we need in order to be healthy. Fellowship with God is as vital to our spiritual health as water is to our physical health. Again in Psalm 84:10, the psalmist says: Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Is being in God’s presence, one day; every day a priority in our lives? In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” First and foremost, we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. In truth, anything that we prioritize over God becomes a god to us. Exodus 20:3 is the first of the Ten Commandments. It says: "You shall have no other gods before Me.”
It is a sin to put anything in God’s place, to give a higher priority to anything than God and fellowship with Him. In Genesis 3:7-10 we see the account of what happened when Adam and Eve sinned. It says: Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Like Adam, when we sin, we become aware of our own imperfections. We no longer see ourselves as we were created, in God’s image and likeness, so we hide from God because we are afraid rather than seeking His presence. Sin and separation from God become an unending downward spiral. The longer we remain apart from God the farther into sin we fall and more and more things become a priority in our lives. We become aware of our imperfections and are afraid so we hide from God. Jesus says: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) When we have failed to keep His commandments, the answer is not for us to hide from God. Rather, as it says in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Because of what Jesus did for us, on the cross, we are reconciled to God. We are restored to His image and likeness. There is nothing to fear. In Jeremiah 29:12-14 it says: ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord. God will be found if we will seek Him. The question is where will we be found?
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for creating me in Your image and likeness, with a natural desire and need to be with You. Thank You for the cross by which I am redeemed, reconciled and restored. Like the psalmist: My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Like Jesus, if others would seek to find me, may they know to look in Your presence. Amen.