Left Behind

I worked in a city that is south of Los Angeles and north of San Diego. The 405 Freeway connecting major cities, dissects Fountain Valley. Travelers frequently stop at gas stations parallel to the highway.

On occasion, absent-minded parents left behind children, only to discover their blunder several miles down the road. We’d receive alarming requests from gas station attendants, and frantic calls from parents notifying us they were returning for their child.

The apostle Luke described a similar scene in the second chapter of his Gospel. Mary and Joseph absent-mindedly left Jesus behind in the temple in Jerusalem as they traveled home following the Feast of the Passover.

There are some interesting lessons to learn from the story described in Luke 2:41-52.

  1. Pursuing God may “astonish” (v. 48) others, even people of faith.
  2. Even though Jesus’ parents were astonished, and his mother said, “why have your treated us so,” (v. 48) they soon realized their “distress” (v. 48) did not mean Jesus did anything wrong. He was “submissive” (v. 51) to them and his mother “treasured all these things in her heart” (v. 51).
  3. God wants to be our focal point, regardless of family or ambition in life.
  4. We tend to focus on self-interests.
  5. Jesus submitted to the authority of his parents without compromising his submission to God.
  6. I am mindful of the importance of pleasing an audience of One—God the Father. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

In v. 49, Jesus said that he must be “in my Father’s house.” Is there a broader understanding of these words? We have equated the term, “Father’s House,” to church, but the words of Jesus were new to Jewish culture. Previously, they did not refer to the temple this way.

While the “Father’s House” is accurately viewed as church, I believe Jesus was already teaching that acts of obedience to God extend beyond the walls of worship.

Jesus later reinforced this when he said, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26).

– Jim

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