Luke 2: 44-45
“Thinking he was in their company, they travelled 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.”
They assumed everything was the same as it had always been.
They were returning home as a family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus plus their extended family and friends. It was a coach full of people who all knew each other. It was probably a noisy crowd as they chatted along the way of the wonderful Festival of Passover they had just attended. This scenario had repeated itself for many years. This year was no different.
They travelled from Jerusalem back to Nazareth a fifth of the way and then the dawning realisation that this year was very much different because though they had thought Jesus was with them, he actually wasn’t.
I wonder if that was the first marital row! “He was with you”, “No, he was with you!” Perhaps!
So the search began amongst the relatives and then the friends, surely Jesus was there. They could not find him, so they did the smart thing and that was to take some steps back, all the way to Jerusalem, they were determined to find him.
Is it possible that we are in exactly the same position?
Is it possible that we have thought that Jesus was with us after all he had promised never to leave us?
If we have ever thought that a particular church had so lost its way that we described it as ‘dead’ then yes it is possible that even in our liveliness and flamboyancy of church that we too have lost the presence of Jesus.
If we have ever used the words ‘so-called Christian’ in a derogatory way then it is also possible that we as true disciples have lost the presence of Jesus.
If we have ever stood outside a building that used to be a church and is now derelict or apartments and judged it for losing its witness because Jesus said, “I will build my church” then it is also possible worshipping in a church that is in decline is an indicator that we think Jesus is with us but maybe we have lost him.
Is it possible that the problems in church life over division and strife, gossip and slander, jealousies and bitterness is simply due to the fact that we have lost his presence. We think Jesus is with us and even fighting for our opinion, but we have moved from him.
Yes. It is possible and it needs to be said.
The search must begin sooner rather than later.
Admission is so important. We have lost the ‘presence’.
We will try familiar places (the relatives and friends) to try and get the presence back (we will try worship, evangelism and good works). But he is not in those things.
We must retrace our steps. We must go back to where we were when Jesus was definitely with us.
The search must begin there.