TEXT: Luke 2:41- 52
(Home Alone Movie)
Parents, have you ever left your children somewhere by mistake? What was your reaction?
Has anyone ever been left somewhere by mistake? As a child, I was left behind at church twice, I think, that I can remember. I’d be playing out in the roof-deck, stock rooms, and different stores with friends and then they’d have to go and I’d realize that Hey – Mum & Dad had gone also. Talk about rejection!!! Mum & Dad already in the jeep only to find out that I wasn’t with them and had to come back for me. I don’t really know how they managed to do this. Maybe it was just that I was a rather forgettable person, or maybe, my parents wanted a breather!
Has anyone else been in that situation before?
Well tonight, I want to talk about a time when Jesus was left behind and searching for Him. Imagine that – losing Jesus, leaving the God of the universe behind. I mean a brat (pasaway kid) like me I can understand, but not Jesus – this special child. Mind blowing isn’t it. I want to tell you, though, that leaving Jesus behind is a relatively easy thing to do and I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few people don’t know where Jesus is in their lives. Are you one of these people? Stick with me and find out.
When I was starting out as a full time pastor, it has always been my desire to preach on these verses…Most of you have probably heard this account of Jesus’ childhood before. In actual fact, it is the only account we have of Jesus’ life growing up.
Tonight, I want us to see three stages that had taken place in the verse that we have read. In our attempt to search for Jesus, let’s first talk about
1. LOSING JESUS.
It was part of the law that all Jewish men were to go to the House of God – the Temple at least 3 times a year. Exodus 23:14-17 says that they are to find themselves in God’s house on the occasion of the 3 main feasts – Feast of Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles. But as people spread through the Roman Empire, this sometimes became impossible due to distance and so it became tradition for Israelite men to go to the temple at least once a year on one of these feasts. You became a man at the age of 13 years when you completed the “Son of the Covenant” ceremony. The Jewish Bar Mizvah ceremony now takes its place. It was considered good preparation for boys aged 11 and 12 to go with their Fathers on this pilgrimage to get familiar with the requirements of the Jewish laws.
We read here that Joseph took his family down to Jerusalem every Passover to fulfill his duty. Apparently Joseph and Mary were very religious and made the 3 day hike from Nazareth every year. They probably would have walked around Samaria due to the hostility of the day.
It was on one of these journeys that they left Jesus behind.
Some, on reading this account would find Mary and Joseph totally irresponsible and neglecting of their parental duties. Imagine – traveling for a whole day and not knowing that you’ve left Jesus behind. But before you condemn them, consider that in ancient times, people traveling used to go in caravans. It was much safer to travel with a lot of other people and besides the time went faster. And the children would have a ball playing with each other around the caravan. But not only this, the women usually traveled separately to the men. You see, the women and young children were slower than the men and so they would usually set off in a group first and then the men would leave a couple of hours later and catch up to them ready for the night’s camp. You can imagine that because Jesus was almost a man, Mary thought that he was naturally with his father. And Joseph thought the opposite. It was only at the end of the day when they came together that they realized Jesus was missing.
Can you imagine the terror that gripped their minds as they frantically searched for Jesus? They’d lost the Savior of the world, the Son of God. How could this be?
The problem was that they were engrossed in their own business. Now there was nothing intrinsically wrong with what they had been doing. They had been obeying the law and going to worship God at the temple. They were being very religious, but in their attempt to fulfill the requirements of God’s law, they lost the one and only Christ. Why? Because what they were involved with – the journey home. They left Jesus behind because they were distracted by getting home.
How easy is it to be distracted from God’s priorities? We fill our lives with all sorts of good things – just like Joseph and Mary did, but we leave Jesus behind because even these good things, aren’t necessarily Jesus’ priorities. The starting pistol fires and we are off doing our thing, and we leave Jesus behind.
Have we left Jesus behind because our priorities in life are not His? Mary and Joseph had been doing some of this. They had been worshipping God and glorifying God in their service. But they were ready to move on. (Out of duty na lang…maka-comply lang sa requirement…Expound)
Let me tell you this…Rather than being obsessed with our own priorities and programs, we need to take the time to ensure that these are aligned with God’s priorities and agendas.
In Exodus 20:1-6 And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Why did give these commandments?
- The commandments were designed to lead Israel to a life of practical holiness.
- In them, people could see the nature of God and his plan for how they should live.
- The commands and guidelines were intended to direct the community to meet the needs of each individual in a loving and responsible manner.
The Israelites had just come from Egypt, a land of many idols and many gods. Because each god represented a different aspect of life, it was common to worship many gods in order to get the maximum number of blessings.
When God told his people to worship and believe in him, that wasn’t so hard for them-he was just one more god to add to the list. But when he said, “You shall have no other gods before me,” that was difficult for the people to accept.
But if they didn’t learn that the God who led them out of Egypt was the only true God, they could not be his people-no matter how faithfully they kept the other nine commandments.
That’s why God made this his first commandment and emphasized it more than the others.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps things from turning into gods.
Today we can allow many things to become gods to us, that keeps us from doing God’s agenda in our lives. Money, fame, work, or pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security.
We probably don’t mean to. No one sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But they can grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies by the amount of time we devote to them, then eventually we see ourselves leaving Jesus behind in our lives. Priorities and personal choices line up with God’s commandments.
I think we put a lot of things before God AND I think we’ve allowed a lot of idols in our lives and unknowingly we had left Jesus behind.
Herewith an Ann Landers column: Dear Ann: I’ve got to decide between the new car and getting engaged. I love the girl. But every night when I go to sleep I dream about the car. What should I do?
A simple truth: What we place as a priority is generally what we will worship.
A corollary to that truth: What we worship becomes our god.
We know the words of the old hymn – “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it: prone to leave the one I love.”
Our hearts are prone to wander. We must continually ask ourselves, “Who or what is ruling my thoughts and behavior: the Lord or an idol?” and “What are my priorities?” Whenever we place other things before God we are indulging in idolatry and idolatry drives us to seek life from false gods, but we come away dry and empty because they are never capable of providing it. If we devote ourselves to knowing God more intimately and place him as first in our lives, to do His will, then we will be less likely to buy into the lies of false gods when they promise what only He can deliver.
Do you remember Solomon? Solomon was an amazing man. His reputation is known not just in the Bible — even secular historians are impressed with his unusual wisdom. He was a man who had all the money, all the power, all the time, and all the energy to make his dreams come true. He could literally have and do anything he wanted. But, he was also restless. He wanted to figure out what life was all about. He was on a search for his purpose in life.
I should tell you ahead of time that the journey he took, while mind-boggling, left him deflated, depressed and disillusioned. The best word to describe how he felt is empty. In fact, his motto appears right at the beginning of the book in 1:2: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” Says the Teacher, Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” This word is used 35 different times. In this type of literature, when the same word is repeated even once, it’s for the purpose of emphasis. It’s like our exclamation point. It’s as if he was saying, “Super empty. No substance. There’s nothing to it. Everything is blah!”
- Freddie Mercury, former lead singer for Queen, died shortly after he wrote these words to his last song: “Does anybody know what we’re living for?”
- Tennis champion Boris Becker, who won three Wimbledon titles once said, “I had all the material possessions I needed: money, cars, women, everything…I had no inner peace because I was a puppet on a string, but I still don’t know who was manipulating the strings.”
- I’m told that a baseball player who made it the Hall of Fame said this: “I wish someone had told me that when you get to the top…there’s nothing there.”
That’s exactly the conclusion that Solomon reached. The problem? He started out with God, but left God behind…he was so engrossed with the things he would like to accomplished, to have, etc., but to the expense that he had neglected God…He had forgotten that it’s all because of God why he had achieved great things in life.
Let me talk to you tonight…this is the number one mistake of all the people, including Christians regarding their dreams and aspirations in life. A lot would say, “I’ll prioritize God when I already achieved my goals in life…” But they end up depressed, frustrated…why? Because they are striving in their own strength…We had forgotten what the Bible is telling us, “IN EVERYTHING YOU DO, PUT GOD FIRST!” Why? Because, “HE WILL CROWN YOUR EFFORTS WITH SUCCESS!”
Stacy Padrick, (Discipleship Journal): “Only worshiping [God] will satisfy our soul’s deepest hunger for the food we’ve been craving in idols. Only in worshiping God, and God alone, can our hearts finally rest.”
F.W. Norwood said, “Life’s greatest tragedy is to lose God and not to miss Him.”
- To what did you devote most of your time in the past week?
- Where did you expend the most energy?
- On what did you spend the most money?
- When you let your mind wander, where does your attention usually travel?
- What needs might you be trying to meet that could be better met in your relationship with God.
Have you left Jesus behind? Yes he was with you at one time – close & personal. But he now seems so distant, so far away. We need to get back to Jesus’ priorities.
2. LOOKING FOR JESUS.
The next thing I want you to notice is where Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus. The first place they looked for Jesus was among those around them – their friends and relatives.
So often we try to have a pseudo relationship with God by copying the relationship others around us have with him. Some people think that my Mother and Father were very religious, they took me along to Sunday School where there were some very good people. So, if I go to Sunday School, and do all the good things I see my parents doing, I’ll find Jesus. Often people try to borrow other’s faith and try to make it our faith. But second hand faith is no faith at all.
You can’t ride on the coat tails of parents, friends or people involved with the church. Each one of you hear tonight, need to find Jesus for yourself personally. For Mary & Joseph, that meant going back to where they left him. It means remembering what it was that Jesus was so interested.
For some of us, the search or look for Jesus can take some time. For Mary and Joseph, it took 3 days before they located Jesus. Imagine their distress. They looked everywhere. They asked everyone. Mary was distraught “I’ve lost my Baby… I’ve lost my precious one” And Then there was Joseph – “Hang on – you think you are upset – We’ve lost God’s Son!!! How is he going to feel. We’re doomed ….” But their success was delayed because they looked in all the wrong places. When you lose things, they invariably are in the last place you think to look. Beats me why we don’t learn this and look in the last place first – It would make so much sense wouldn’t it!!!
People look for Jesus in all sorts of areas – emotional experiences, social reform, self help theologies, meditations, retreating to a far place…living in isolation. But he is seldom found there, because that is not where he hangs out. Mary and Joseph eventually located Jesus in the temple…If we want to find Jesus, we need to look in the right places – God’s Word, fellowship, worship service…(Balikan mo yung mga lugar at pangyayari na kung saan huli mong naranasan ang ating Panginoon)
When they found him, their emotional frustration was evident …(v. 48) Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Isn’t it funny how often we try to blame God for our wandering off. They were in effect saying … “Why did you leave us Jesus!” Hang on – it was Mary & Joseph who left Jesus behind, not visa versa. Isn’t that always the case in us…we would say, “Why did you leave me Jesus?” “DI NA KITA MARAMDAMAN…” “NASAN KA NA LORD?” “MAGPARAMDAM KA NAMAN…” He never puts distance between us in our relationship. No – it is always us, our sin and our wanderings which causes the damage in our relationship.
3. FINDING JESUS.
Where was Jesus found? – in the Temple. The first recorded words of our Savior are these … (vs 49f) “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Here Jesus was in his Father’s house. No it wasn’t Joseph’s house, it was his Heavenly Father’s house – in the presence of God. And what was he doing? He was sitting at the feet of the teachers, learning. He was a young sponge, learning all there was to know about God. His questions showed interest, insight and understanding beyond his years and he sat, glued to their every word – learning and becoming more like his heavenly Father.
Some of you may wonder about this. Wasn’t Jesus God? Didn’t he know it all already? You’d give anything to be Jesus wouldn’t you – think about it – your sitting in the Synagogue School and the Rabbi comes in and says – okay boys, time for a pop quiz. And everyone groans except Jesus – because he knows it all already – 100% in writing, 100% in arithmetic, 100% in reading. Easy – he was God, he knew it all. No he didn’t. Jesus gave up his divinity and became a man. 100% man. As a baby, he was a helpless and ignorant as any of us. As he grew, he learned – learned practical things like toileting and how to feed himself. But more than that he learned spiritual things about God, his identity and his purpose in life.
As a boy on the verge of manhood, Jesus was a sponge – soaking in God’s Word. Learning to become the Son of God that he was. The Messiah became a student in the ways of God.
If learning was a priority for Jesus, should it not be a priority for us.
- Prioritize our day and hour of worship
Illustration: (Why Go To Church?)
A Churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. ‘I’ve gone for 30 years now,’ he wrote, ‘and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them.
So, I think I’m wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.’
This started a real controversy in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
‘I’ve been married for 47 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 42,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals, But I do know this… They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!’
In our worship time, we are being edified, we hear God’s Word and we are strengthened!
- If we are serious about finding Jesus, we need to be like him, learning about his Father – learning about our Father. This may mean we have to set aside time for daily devotions, but that is way to easy to cheat on.
- If we are serious about this, we need to be holding each other accountable and the best way I know how to do this is to join a small group. At last count, we’ve got about 3325 small groups / bible study groups / home groups in this church. Some are for ladies, some are for Young Adults, there’s one for youth, there’s one for young families, there are a couple that have mixed ages. They meet at all different times and if you are serious about finding Jesus, you need to be in one of these small groups.
You need to be sitting down with others and digging into the Word of God. That is where Mary & Joseph found Jesus and that is where you will find him. I know what I am asking you to do is going to be difficult. In fact, you may have to rearrange your timetable and even quit some other activities. But if you are serious about finding Jesus and then not leaving Jesus behind, I believe this is one of the best ways to do that.
In your search for Jesus, where is Jesus in your life right now?
- Have you lost Jesus – left him behind because you are pursuing different priorities to Him? If this is the case, you need to stop. Turn around and go and find Him again. Stop being distracted by your priorities. God’s priorities are what counts.
- Are you Looking for him? I can guarantee that you will find him if you commit yourself to study of his word.
- Come and talk to me or inquire in our office after the service and we’ll give you information about small groups that you can join. There are some that are crying out for new members – they are just waiting for you to join them!!!
What about those of you who feel comfortable. You feel as though Jesus is safe and secure with you. To you I give you this warning. It may only be a matter of time before you wander off. What are you doing to ensure that you keep your priorities aligned with His. For you too, there is no substitute to belonging to a home group.
So where are you at? Have you left Jesus behind in your life. Stop wandering around…I encourage you to find him as quickly as you can and to put into place things that will ensure that your priorities always remain the same as His. If you do this, you will never be in the unenviable position of having left Jesus behind.