I often say--sometimes to myself, sometimes to friends, sometimes from the stage or from behind a lecturn--that I do not want to reach heaven and have to ask, "Which one is Jesus?" I express my desire to know Him now. Here. So much so that I recognize Him immediately upon entering through the gates.
This is true. In every part of me, this is true.
But still, I often wonder if I know Him as much as I should. I know that I do not know Him as much as I desire, but whose fault is that? His? Certainly not. That blame rests on my shoulders alone. And He knows me, that much is for sure. He knows me and He still calls to me and lets me know of His desire to be with me. For me to know Him better.
So, I decided to remedy any question as to whether I'd given this relationship my all or not. I opened my Bible and started with the first recorded words of Jesus ... and so on ... and so on ...
Luke 2:49: "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's House?"
Jesus had been missing three days. He'd worried his parents who had searched for Him along the roadway, in the crowds of their family and friends, and in Jerusalem. The Passover was complete, but the streets still filled with people from all over. How would they ever find their son?
Furthermore, their son was God's Son. They'd been entrusted with Him. With His care. His rearing. And they'd lost Him. I cannot imagine the sheer panic. How does one report such a thing to God?
When they finally located Him, He was in the Temple, sitting with the teachers, "listening to them and asking questions" (Luke 2: 46).
These were obviously not the kinds of questions of the simple minded. I don't mean this in a negative way, but only to say that these questions were not those of a child. Of a twelve-year-old.
These questions were deep. Deep calls to deep, the psalmists wrote(Psalm 42:7).
Jesus' questions the kinds of questions that made learned men pause. Ponder. Wonder. Marvel.
This twelve-year-old . . . this Son of God. . . had stumped the greatest minds in Jerusalem.
And then His parents found Him.
"Didn't you know?" He asked Mary and Joseph.
No disrespect, I'm sure.
"Didn't you know I had to be . . ." He said.
As if He had no choice. Because He did not.
He had been there before, to Jerusalem. To the temple. To the Passover celebration. So, why then? Why at 12? Why did He have to be?
"Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's House?"
One wonders: did He even yet understand at such a tender age the draw of the Temple to His soul? His spirit? His need to be as close to the Presence of God, His Father, as possible?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God (Psalm 42:1). As did the Sons of Korah, so did His, and so does mine. In this, we are alike. We are called by God's Spirit to come and see. To come and taste. To come and question. We are called to be with Him . . .
And so we must go.
Photo: Heinrich Hofmann, (1824-1911) "Christ in the Temple At Twelve"