Worried in a City of Fear

Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” – Luke 2:47 (NASB)

It had been years since Herod sought to take their son’s life, but the memory was never far from their mind. They returned to Jerusalem with their 12 year old son, but they knew God would protect them as he had done so many times in the past. Yet now their son was missing. How could they not be anxious about His whereabouts?

This is what goes through my mind when I think of Mary and Joseph suddenly realizing that their young son Jesus is missing after a day of traveling. They had been in Jerusalem “according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days,” they did not realize that Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2:42-43). Hoping he was somewhere in the caravan, “they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him (44-45).”

I can only imagine the worry they felt, maybe even fearing the worst. Afterall, they fled for their lives to Egypt to get away from Herod. Now they were back in Jerusalem, so close to the Roman rulers who once wanted their son dead. For three days they searched. Three days of worry! What was going through their mind for those three days? I also wonder if they were concerned about making the dangerous trip back to Nazareth if the caravan went on without them.

“Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions (46).” What relief they must have felt to finally find Jesus. “When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You (48).” It’s that feeling as a parent of both anger and relief.

And what does the boy Jesus say to them? “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house (49).” It is the answer to our worry. We search for days for an answer to our worries in life. Spending hours in a city populated with unknowns and filled with fears born out of our past. Searching every where but God’s temple. “Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

In God’s house we will find Jesus. There we will find a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phillipians 4:7). “And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers (Luke 2:47).” Like Mary and Joseph, we may “not understand the statement which He had made to them (50),” but in the middle of our worries, we can seek Jesus in God’s temple instead of spending days in the city of fear looking for answers.

© 2023, Chris G. Thelen

4 thoughts on “Worried in a City of Fear

  1. It is easy for us to empathize with Joseph & Mary. As parents of a 12-year-old, it is their responsibility to protect their son. They knew in the back of their minds that God was in control of all; but how hard to not feel like they let God down, like they shirked their duty.
    Yes, we can always look for Jesus in His Father’s House.

  2. Had never thought about how the dangers at Jesus’ birth would have given them special caution in Jerusalem! Great insight and so helpful to think about our past forming current attitudes of fear.

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