Deeply Satisfying

At a very early age, Jesus' life was marked by a deep interest in God.“Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ ‘Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2: 41 -50Most pre-teens, whose families engage in repetitive religious customs, aren’t usually all that excited about those customs. I don’t think it’s because pre-teens are inherently non-religious. I think it’s because they have a low tolerance for phoniness. If it’s phony – forget it, and we all know that repetitive religious ritual is often a wasteland of phoniness. But if a pre-teen gets why something is important, they’re all in. If they understand that something is pleasurable or fun, they’re into it.  If they can’t make these connections, they may do the customs the way mom asks just to keep mom off their back, but they won’t be into it.Jesus and his parents participated in the custom of going to Jerusalem with family and friends to celebrate Passover.  Being somewhere around the age of 12, Jesus was just about to take his place as a man in Jewish culture. This involved a lot of religious rituals he had to perform to earn that recognition. In this passage we find Jesus having no interest in customs for customs’ sake, but we find him having a lot of interest in knowing and relating to the God behind those customs. We know this because of what happens in the scene. He goes to the Temple, starts chatting with the teachers of Scripture and gets lost in the discussion exploring the wonders of God – so lost he forgets to go home! His parents miss him, but they aren’t all that worried because they think he’s playing with family and friends. It’s only when Joseph and Mary can’t find him after one whole day that they turn back to Jerusalem where they continue to look for two more days.  You can only imagine the anxiety they felt looking for Jesus, and their shock when they found him.  Jesus wasn’t having fun horsing around with other kids; he was having fun exploring the wonders of God with old men.  And when Jesus is asked what he’s doing, He has an awkward response fitting and awkward 12-year old who has no idea what his parent’s have endured to find him. The response reveals his heart – “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Pre-teen Jesus was saying, “Don’t you know? Of course I want to explore the wonders of the God who captivates my imagination? I don’t want to be anywhere else!”In Jesus physical life, we see that God’s gift of new life looks like a deeply satisfying relationship. If we picture our relationship with God like a visit to that old Aunt who always pinched our cheeks, always got us in trouble with our mom because we broke one of her many antiques, and who made us sit on couches covered with plastic – we won’t visit with God very often. If, on the other hand, we view our relationship with God like a barbecue with family and friends who we really enjoy – we will visit with God often.  Jesus lived as if connecting with His heavenly Father was the most satisfying thing He could do, and all the good He did during His earthly ministry flowed from what He had going on in this satisfying relationship. So - - how is for you? Is visiting with God like visiting that old Aunt, or more like a barbecue with good friends?