Vol. 3, No. 8
Recently I noticed a bumper sticker that read, "If you have trouble finding Jesus, try looking for his mother." I was reminded that Mariolatry is alive and well. My mind went back to that great sermon preached by brother N. B. Hardeman entitled, "The Lost Christ," which appeared in volume two of Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons. In keeping with that sermon, I was reminded of a time when Jesus' mother had trouble finding him. The account is in Luke 2:40-45, a passage rich with valuable instruction for the truth seeker. Of this brief passage the great Hardeman said, "This is a little story that gives an account of a mere incident, ordinarily considered; and yet I am certain within my own mind that it was not written just to tell us a little personal incident that occurred on one of their trips up to Jerusalem, but that in it there is both interest per se and also lessons possibly based upon that which may be of practical benefit and concern to those of us who now live and wheresoever the Bible shall be read" (pp. 112-113). The passage reads as follows:
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him (NKJV).
(1) There is suggested the idea of someone lost. Jesus was separated from his family and they did not know it (Vs. 43). In the very suggestion of this fact there is created that familiar anxiety that accompanies the reality of something or someone lost to us. We will do almost anything necessary to go in search of that which is precious to us, but has gotten away from us.
The tragedy of Jesus' being lost to his parents was compounded by their ignorance of it. This fact alone ought not to surprise us because it shows that human nature and human carelessness have been the same from time immemorial. How illustrative of the multiplied millions of souls who are traveling to eternity's shore, not realizing the fact that Jesus may not be in their company. How many people are lost without Christ and do not know it? This ought to impress us with the duty that is ours to carry the precious Gospel of Christ to those many ignorant, but lost souls in the world (Luke 12:48).
(2) Jesus was lost to the one's least expected -- his parents: "Joseph and his mother." Why did they lose Jesus? It was not because of a failure of Jesus' parents to love and appreciate him as much as any other parents. It was not because they could not have known his whereabouts. It was not because they did not think that he was in their company.
It was simply due to their carelessness that they lost him. This is not a criticism of them, but simply a characteristic often true of human disposition and ways. It is an error that is duplicated countless times along the pathway of life. The application is that Jesus would seem least likely lost to religious people, but he in fact may be (Matthew 7:21-23; 15:13).
(3) The parents of Jesus rested solely upon supposition (Vs. 44). This is one of the worst and most fatal mistakes characterizing human conduct in religious matters.We do not operate on the ground of supposition with immunity in too many areas of life. Experience quickly teaches us the danger of supposition in matters where money and other valuable assets are involved, but many feel safe following their conscience in religion. Such supposition cost Joseph and Mary the heart-rending agony of parental anxiety for three days while they searched for the young Jesus among kinfolk, and finally by returning to Jerusalem. Supposition in matters spiritual will cost us in the loss of our soul.
Religiously, the majority of the human family are headed to the eternal shore on the skiff of supposition (Matthew 7:13). For example, the Bible plainly condemns partyism (1 Corinthians 1:10), but where is the denomination that does not suppose that it has Christ in their company? It is often true that many people seek the Lord in the religion of "their relatives and acquaintances." The Bible teaches that we must do God's will in order to be saved (Matthew 7:21), but where is the partial practitioner thereof who does not suppose that he has Christ? The Bible teaches that we must grow spiritually (2 Peter 3:18), but where is the lukewarm saint who does not suppose that he has Christ?
Let us not suppose, but let us seek knowledge of our spiritual state! It would be well for all religious people to ask, "Did Christ ever hear of the company with which I am journeying?" Is he in it? Is it mentioned in the Bible? Is it possible for us to be traveling away from Jerusalem while supposing that Jesus is in our company?
Are there any that are seeking Jesus today? They are indeed seeking the right one (John 14:6). In order to find him they will have to sever all human ties and return to Jerusalem and they will find him in the church for which he died (Acts 20:28).