“After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:43a)
We’ve lost our son twice. One in a branch of HMV. As a parent, you tend to assume that your child is just following along. But when we both reached the doors without him, we knew he was in the store *somewhere*, and it was only a matter of waiting for him to come out. The store wasn’t all that big and if we were REALLY concerned, we could have asked the staff for help.
The second occasion was slightly more serious. It was in a superstore with more than one exit. He was missing for about 20 minutes. My feeling was one of annoyance. I sat on a seat by the main door and trusted that his own sense of direction would lead him to me. My Plan B was to ask the staff (again!).
Where had he gone? WHY had he gone? Why? Why? Why? As I sat there, becoming more and more angry with him, I thought of a hundred and one questions.
When he did finally turn up, looking suitably distressed, I said nothing. I was angry but also upset. Upset at my own feelings as much as being upset at his disappearance.
“But you knew where I was!” He explained when I asked him later.
That’s the logic of a child. Parents always know this stuff. Instinct! Surely?
I can’t even imagine how Mary and Joseph might have felt, missing Jesus for three days. What was he doing all this time? He was speaking in the temple, as if nothing extraordinary had happened. And when the distraught Mary questioned him…
“But why did you search. Didn’t you know where I was?”