A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
When my firstborn was little, she never knew a stranger. She was cute as a button and would talk to anyone and everyone. My wife enjoyed shopping...except with her tagging along. It took her forever to run errands or get through a checkout line because people would stop and be polite telling her how cute she was. But then this little petite bundle would start and avalanche of questions and dialog that captivated whoever spoke to her. It would take her hours to get through the grocery store sometimes.
It’s important to understand that about my daughter to relate to the next part of the story. Because she would talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, we were sometimes a little worried about her. As she was growing up in the 80’s, the news reporters first began to talk about the sex slave trade and their kidnapping of young children to fill their requirements for their perverted clientele.
We worried our super friendly daughter would just get into a lively conversation with one of those recruiters and be gone without a trace. That was our nightmare. So my wife solved our fear, she put a child harness on her and attached a leash. Suddenly, much of the fear disappeared because we knew she was no more than that six foot leash away and it would be very difficult for anyone to bother her without us knowing. All the buckles and fasteners were in the back, so she couldn’t undo them herself and there were enough of them that if anyone tried to tamper with them, we would feel the tugs and pulls before the last one could be undone. Our precious little girl could not escape without our knowing.
As she got older, though, and we began to trust her with the mantra of “stranger danger”, we lost the leash. She still talked to everyone she met, but for the most part, she stayed in eye contact with one of us wherever we went. But once in a while, she would get interested in something on a shelf or in another part of the store and suddenly you would look to the spot you though she should be and she wasn’t there.
If you’re a parent, you have probably known that feeling at one time or another. You heart drops, your pulse races, you can’t think properly, you don’t know where to start looking, you are a bit frantic for a moment. Where did you last see her? Did she say anything? Did you see anyone around her? Was there something she had her eyes on earlier? Where could she have gone? Who can I go to for help? God, please let her be alright!
Your brain becomes a jumbled mess for the next few minutes. Finally, you see her out of the corner of your eye. She’s fine. Like usual, she is absorbed in some toy or book or something that caught her eye and has no idea the emotional trauma she caused. She looks up with that cute little grin like nothing happened.
You on the other hand, don’t know whether to pick her up and hug her as tight as you can or put her in time-out until she turns 36.
Now let’s go back a couple thousand years to the story at the end of Luke chapter 2. Jesus is twelve. In his culture at that time, he has just had or is about to have his bar mitzvah, another milestone toward manhood in the Jewish community. His family came from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Some will probably look at Mary and Joseph and think, “what horrible parents, not realizing Jesus was missing for a whole day.”
But we have to go back and look at the culture of the day, again. Mary and Joseph traveled with their whole extended family to Jerusalem. That meant parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws and their relatives, everyone in the community that were headed to Jerusalem. The larger the group, the less likely they would run into bandits or have trouble with the Roman patrols. Traveling in large numbers was good.
I also expect they had everything in preparation the day before their departure. The group may have even departed at night to avoid the heat of the sun. I mention that tidbit based on my experience in the middle east as I watched everyone stop working in the middle of the day. From about noon until about three o’clock, work stops. That’s nap time for the people who live there. The heat is so oppressive you just can’t handle it. It is hard to even breathe outside because of the temperatures. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the entourage headed home in the dark.
In that case, Mary and Joseph, with no flashlights or streetlights, just a few oil lamps among the crowd, may have seen a boy about the same size and build as Jesus among all the kids racing around together and assumed he was with them. Then as the continued to travel through the day, assumed he was playing with his brothers and sisters and cousins as kids are apt to do. If they left in the dark, it’s pretty easy to understand how it could be a whole day before they missed him.
Even in my young teenage years, my parents didn’t worry about the kinds of evil we worry about today. My instructions in the morning when I headed out to play with my friends and travel around on our bikes was to make sure I was home before the streetlights came on.
Can you understand the changes that have happened in our culture over the centuries? My kids have their eyes on their kids or have a well known friend’s eyes on their kids at all times because of the evil in our world today. Carole and I were a little fearful to have our kids out of sight for more than a few hours when we we had a pretty good idea where they were. My parents didn’t worry about us until it was almost time to go to bed.
A century ago, kids may have slept over or spent the night in the woods and parents didn’t worry because they knew someone in the community was watching over them and would take care of them. It’s easy to think that twenty centuries ago, Mary and Joseph were doing just what good parents were expected to do and were pretty confident Jesus was okay.
We also might wonder why it took them three days to find him. Well, the first day was the journey back to Jerusalem. The second day was revisiting all the places they had been with that gaggle of relatives during the Passover celebration. The third day they found him when they retraced their path to the temple where they purchased their sacrifice and discovered their eldest son was confounding the teachers of the law.
I expect Jesus did an awful lot of what my daughter did as she was growing up. She asked a million questions a day. I have a feeling Jesus did, too. I think he thirsted for knowledge and asked more questions than Mary and Joseph and his local rabbi and the temple priest and… and anyone could answer except his real father, the creator of all things.
Interesting stories today, perhaps, but you might be asking how does all this come together and what’s the point? There are a couple, of course.
First, like the young Jesus and my daughter, be inquisitive. Ask questions. Never tire of learning more. Especially, about the One who is worthy of our worship, Jesus.
Second, like the young Jesus and my daughter, be friendly. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people. That’s how those endless questions will finally find answers. The teachers in the temple had better answers than the rabbis in Nazareth. With more experience and wisdom, more answers to life’s big questions come to mind. So don’t be afraid to talk to others when you want answers to big questions.
Third, although inquisitive and willing to talk with others to find answers to those big questions, try not to bring untoward angst to those responsible for your welfare. We don’t know how Joseph died, but if Jesus did these kinds of things often, he may have had a heart attack from the stress. Just kidding. We really don’t know. It’s okay to reduce the stress on your caregivers, though.
Finally, if you are listening to this podcast on the day of it’s release, tomorrow starts a new year. 2018 will be gone in just a few hours and there is nothing you can do to change it. But you can do something about 2019. Plan today to learn more about our Savior and let him make you more like him this year. Read. Study. Journal. Make notes in your Bible. Take personal inventory of who you are and how far he has brought you.
Thank you for listening. I pray you will have a blessed year ahead as you follow in his footsteps.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.