I have been pondering over the account of Jesus, at twelve years old, being left at the Temple in Luke 2.
Let’s read it :
“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Luke 2:41-46
Do we travel for a day or more thinking Jesus is in our company, but we left Him behind?
Is it possible that we live our Christian lives in such a way that we do not realise when Jesus is with us guiding the way and when we left Him behind? Are we constantly calling to God for guidance and direction or can we not even tell when the Presence of God is with or without us?
Let’s read a passage written centuries before that in Exodus 33. Moses was in the tent of meeting speaking with God, it was right before he saw the glory of the LORD pass by him,
“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:13-14
Moses did not want to go anywhere without the Presence of the LORD and of course he did not. We know that the Christian life involves suffering and that whatever path we will take it will be marked with suffering. Actually suffering and persecution is one of the many promises Jesus gives to His disciples. But the promise is not only hardship; the promise is Jesus plus hardship. Not only Jesus and an easy life and not only hardship and not Jesus with us, the promise is God Himself living in us and guiding us and the sufferings and persecutions that will entail from being His followers. Only a fool or someone who likes pain would accept suffering and persecution without the constant Presence of God by our side!
“The LORD is the shade at your right hand” says the psalmist in Psalm 121:5 Our shade is discreet, not showy, it is continually close to us, never leaving us, even from one inch. So is the Presence of the LORD, He speaks to us in whispers as we learn from Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19:12. But do we live such lives that we go about serving God without relying on His Presence and listening to His whispers for guidance?
If we do not pay attention to Jesus, we will, like his parents in Luke 2, leave Him behind and when we are far away and wondering where He is, we will, like them, look around us and will not find Him. We will have to take steps backwards and learn the lesson He was teaching us there.