“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?’”
(Luke 2:49 ESV)
When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents took him to Jerusalem for the Passover. And, as they traveled home with a company, they failed to notice that he was not with them. He’d remained behind.
When they discovered that he was missing, they went back to Jerusalem where they searched for him. And, when they found him on the third day, he was in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.
Mary then asked him: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” Most of us, I believe, can relate to Mary’s feelings. We’ve experienced the feelings of distress when one of our children couldn’t be found.
However, Jesus’ answer to her is what I always find striking. The ESV translates it as you read it above. However, the NKJV translates it in this way: "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
I’m not a Greek expert, but it seems that the most literal way to translate Jesus final question is a little more general. I believe it could be said in this way: “Did you not know that it is necessary for me to be in the things of my Father?”
Jesus understood that God was his Father. And, for this reason, he was compelled to be about the things of his Father. He was compelled to be in the house of God. He was compelled to be present for the teaching of God’s Word. And, as we see throughout his life, he found it necessary to engage in the ministry for which he’d been sent. The things of God could not be avoided or neglected.
Although Jesus is the only Son of God, although he is the Son of God in a sense that can never be true of us, it seems that we should possess the same heart and mindset. After all, we are the children of God. By faith, we have received his adoption as sons.
The question I’m led to ask myself is this: Do I find it necessary to be about the things of God? And this is a question that deserves to be contemplated by each of us.
Do we find it necessary to be in God’s house, to worship and to hear the Word as it’s taught and preached? Do we find it necessary to spend time in the Word and prayer on a regular basis? Do we find it necessary to be about the Father’s business, to be about the calling he’s entrusted to us? Do we find it necessary to take part in the fellowship of believers?
Even though it’s clear how this question ought to be answered, I think you see where I’m going. It’s easy for us to make the things of God a lesser priority. It’s easy for us to become overwhelmed by the distractions of society around us. It’s easy for us to neglect the things of God in favor of things that are mere vanity.
As we reflect upon the gift of God, as we reflect upon the fact that we’ve been made to be the children of God, let us sincerely search our heart. Let’s confess to the Lord that he hasn’t been the priority in our life that he should be. And let’s ask him to create within us a need to be about the things of God.