I was recently sharing the story of that time when Jesus went missing from his family as they travelled home from Jerusalem to Nazareth. As we considered the story, and in particular, how we might have felt if we were Jesus’ parents, someone in our group spoke about something they had discovered from the story that impacted them deeply. It was the first time they had noticed Jesus’ play on the word Father.
Upon finding Jesus in the temple, Mary said to him, “Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” Jesus’ reply was, “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”.
The idea that Jesus, at the tender age of just 12, would have a deep understanding of his relationship with his heavenly Father, was significant for our friend. What stood out the most was the idea of identity, or belonging.
Jesus had an earthy family. He had several brothers and sisters and it would seem from this story that Joseph and Mary were very comfortable with the idea that Jesus was secure in the company of family and friends. Yet, it was not his earthly family that Jesus longed for. Yes, I’m sure he loved them very much. We know that he returned with them to Nazareth and was ‘obedient to them’ for at least another 18 years! But what he really longed for was to be with his Fathers people, in his Fathers house.
As I thought about this some more, I was confronted by the question, Which house do I long for most? Don’t get me wrong.. I love being with my family and friends. But do I long to be with my Father’s people? Do I long to dwell in His house?
I think I am re-learning to say yes to both those questions more often than not.
I am pleading with the Eternal for this one thing, my soul’s desire: To live with Him all of my days — in the shadow of His temple, To behold His beauty and ponder His ways in the company of His people. Psalm 27:4 (The Voice)