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Have you ever lost a child before? Maybe you were at a public place. You know, way back in the old days when people went to concerts and state fairs and things like that. Have you ever lost a child? I have. And it’s the worst: 10 or 20 minutes of running around like a crazy person looking for a lost child. There is no fear like it. You imagine the very worst. 

Mary and Joseph knew that fear well. They lost track of their son, Jesus. And just add in, by the way, that this is the Son of God – and that the salvation of the whole world is riding on this child. That is quite a responsibility – a big job and they blew it.

After a day’s journey without Him, and realizing that He wasn’t with their travelling group, they frantically made their way back to Jerusalem. And only after three days did they find Him. And there He was sitting. Sitting in the temple, with the teachers, listening to them attentively and asking questions. The subject matter of course was God Word, the Sacred Scriptures, and all who heard this 12-year-old boy Jesus were amazed at His understanding and His answers. Something about this child was different. He was sitting with the very best minds in the world, discussing and reflecting upon the words and promises of God.

When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and Mary asked Him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

But Jesus had no need to apologize. Instead, He gives His mother a gentle rebuke. “Mother, why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” It is as if He said, “Dear Mother, I have not been disobedient to you. I am your Son, but more, I am the Son of My Father in heaven.” As a child, Jesus is reminding His parents what the angels and the shepherds had said about Him. Reminding them also what Simeon and Anna had said about Him – lessons which we reflected on this past Christmas. That He is not just any boy, but also true God – with a very important mission.

He is saying, “Dear mother, you should have known that I must be at My Father’s house – the temple.”

Well, let’s make some connections here. In our first reading today from the Old Testament, Solomon is dedicating that beautiful temple that he built. But it’s nowhere near complete because the glory of the Lord has not yet entered in. But all that’s going to change now – so here at the proper time, 12 months after it’s built, the ark of the covenant is entering in. The priests carry the ark into the inner sanctuary, the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. It’s then that the glory cloud, the glory of the Lord, filled the whole temple. And Solomon preached a beauty of a prayer.

At 12 months, the glory of the Lord filled the temple, but now at 12 years of age, the glory of the Lord returns to the temple in the boy Jesus. And that’s a beautiful thing.    

They are there to celebrate the Passover. You know, that meal of deliverance where the father would take a male lamb without blemish, sacrifice that lamb, and roast it. The father would smear the blood over the lintel of the doorway – and his household would eat the roasted flesh. It was a meal of deliverance – meaning that the angel of death would see the blood and literally pass over.

The Passover was commanded to remember the great work that God had done – and to anticipate the greater deliverance to come – when God would send His only begotten Son.

You see, Jesus grows from a boy to a man to lay down His life for us all on the cross. Our Passover Lamb. He was roasted in the father’s wrath for the sins of the whole world. But to take them all away – and remove them from you as far as the east is from the west. He’ll do it by being enthroned not between two cherubim but between two criminals on a cross. The temple of His body will be destroyed but then raised up on the third day – to forgive sins, to impart new life – and to refresh us with the better Passover of His flesh and blood – where death itself passes over. So that, when He comes again, we would stand up in the resurrection and be found with Christ our Lord, and with all the company of heaven.  

Jesus was found by His parents after three days. But He would later rise from the dead on the third day so that the love and goodness of God would rest upon us all.

Losing a child is scary. But losing Christ in our hearts is far worse. May God always keep us in communion with Him – that we would fear nothing except losing Him. And remain close to Him, in the temple of His church, right where He has promised to be – in His Word and Sacrament.

Finally, there is a second part of our Gospel today which calls for some attention. And for this I really want the ears of all the children to perk up – because this is for you. The whole childhood of Christ our Lord is summed up in one verse. Ready for it? Here it is: “Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” That one verse summarizes His whole childhood!

What’s it mean? It means Jesus went home with Mary and Joseph and submitted to them. That means He did His chores. He did what He was told. He obeyed and honored His parents, willingly and cheerfully – with a happy heart. If Jesus who is Lord and God submitted to His earthly parents, so should we, and we have a wonderful example to inspire us.

The good works and obedience given to our parents have been sanctified and blessed through this child Jesus. All of us Christian children have a wonderful example and model on how we can please God – by helping our parents in whatever way we can. 

And when we fall short, we have Jesus to forgive us, renew us, and refresh us for service in His kingdom. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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