The Bible gives us little information on Jesus’ boyhood and growing-up years. Luke does tell us that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Matthew tells us that when the baby was still very small, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt where they remained until Herod died. Then they started back and settled in Nazareth where Jesus spent his boyhood years in the carpenter shop with Joseph.
In today’s text, St. Luke gives us a view of Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were on their way back to Nazareth after celebrating the Passover. As the day went on, Mary and Joseph realized they had not seen Jesus and so became very concerned. They searched for three days before finally finding him in the temple with the rabbinical scholars, asking questions and giving answers. The scholars were all amazed at his knowledge. However, when Mary saw him, she had some harsh words for him. Out of fear mixed with anger she asked, “Jesus, why did you do this to us? We have been very afraid. We searched for three days and couldn’t find you.”
Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” That question and its answer is the thought I use for today in this marvelous text.
Don’t you agree, friend, that many times in life we ask the same question under different circumstances? Where are you, Jesus? I need some answers.
For the unbeliever, he may have learned something about Jesus in Sunday school, but isn’t too interested in him today. He has no personal relationship with the Lord.
Then something terrible happens, and the unbeliever asks a Christian friend or relative, “Now where is your Jesus? Why does he let this happen?”
He also may ask, Why does God permit wars to happen? Why are these terrible murders happening right in our own little community? Where are you, Jesus? I thought you had a Jesus who could give you all the answers.
What about those who do trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord? What are the answers to their searching and asking, Where are you, Jesus?
Why do you suppose Mary and Joseph had to hunt for Jesus for three days? If they had gone immediately to the temple, they would have found him the first hour of the day. However, they were looking in the wrong places.
If you want this question answered Ð Where are you, Jesus? Ð the place to go is your Bible where you will find answers. If perhaps you don’t know your way around the Bible and do not read it daily, then seek out somebody who can help you. Why not your pastor?
As a pastor, I loved it when people came to my study and asked for help finding answers in the Bible. Time after time we found those answers, because Jesus wants us to know what his will is, and he wants to share it with us in a kind and loving way. We can find those words of Jesus in the sacraments, during prayer time, and in the most basic place of all Ð the Bible.
What are the circumstances of your life when you are asking that question, Where is Jesus? Let’s say that you are thirty years of age and don’t really know what to do with your life. You are well trained. You’ve received much education and training but do not know what to do with it. As a committed Christian, your first allegiance is to Jesus Christ. In prayer ask him where he wants you to live your life. Then watch for his guidance and follow him as he leads you to it.
If you are eighty years of age, you have another kind of question. The body is wearing out and physically speaking, you are not in the best shape. Where are you, Jesus, to guide me and direct me? I need a word from you.
Nearly every day I go to the dining room at a care center to be with my wife. I eat a sandwich and drink a cup of coffee with many people who are simply a delight. Some, like me, are there visiting a loved one who is afflicted in one way or another. Often, if you listen carefully, you will hear the cries of those whose bodies are broken: Where are you, Jesus? What about me?
I think of one man who sat at the head of the table. He is a friend who belongs to the congregation I used to serve. As I sat with him one day, I asked “John, how goes it?”
“Not good, pastor. Not good.”
Then came the time when he could not pick up his fork or his knife, and he went where somebody could feed him. Now I learned the other day that he did not want to come out of his room at all. John was asking, Where are you, Jesus? Must I continue here for a long time? My life is over, isn’t it? Is there something more for me to do? Where are you, Jesus?
So we can go back to the scriptures to see if Jesus is listening or not. When talking with an 80-year-old person who has real questions about his future, the quality of his life, or being able to do something for God and for humanity, I would first go to Psalm 90:10. “The length of our days is seventy years Ð or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass and we fly away.”
Does Jesus have answers? Has he forsaken you? No. In his word he said that the length of our life is three score and ten; that is seventy. Four score years Ð that’s 80. What he is saying is that whether it is 70, 80, 90, or 110 years, ultimately this body is mortal and it is going to die. As you pass three score years and ten, you realize you are living on a bonus, for you were never intended to live here any longer.
In Hebrews 13:14, we find Jesus again talking to the person who is old. His body is wearing out, and he is asking, Where are you, Jesus? Jesus says, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
What is Jesus saying to us as we look for answers in the span of our life? He is simply saying that we’re not going to stay here long. These years fly by, and then we have to go. It does not matter where we are, how much power we have, or how much money we have accumulated. We’ve got to go! That’s simply it.
And so we pray the Holy Spirit will take these words from Psalms and from Hebrews, let them become truths in our lives, and learn to make the best out of the time we have. If we can help somebody and serve the Lord Jesus, then we should do that. But we’ve got to get rid of the foolish idea that we have endless days on this earth. And believing that the latest shot, miracle medicine, or surefire surgery can give us a new lease on life so we can get back out on the golf course or some other activity, is utter foolishness. That is not negativism; it is reality and the answer comes from Jesus Christ himself.
Listen to these words if you are thirty. You say to yourself, I have a good education. I’m an intelligent person, but I don’t know what to do with my life. Could it be that Jesus is saying, I gave you many talents, and you have done your part in developing them. But now I have a few words for you. Make your life count for me. Remember that I said to go and make disciples of all nations. That meant you. Whether you are highly involved in the business world, the political world, the world of arts or science, use those talents I have given you and permitted you to develop. But remember that if at any time you have to compromise your convictions, get out of that job. It is not for you!
Do you understand this, friend? Jesus is the answer. Whether we’re 18, 19, 80, or 85, are we honestly searching for him in the right places?
Mary was asking the question in honesty, for her little boy was missing and she went seeking him. More often than not, we do not have the answers. Remember that when we seek him, go to the right place. That is the Word of God.
Make it your new year’s resolution to spend some time every day in that Word, and soon you will pick up answers that mold and shape your life according to his will.