Robert C. OliverMatthew, Mark, Luke and John are known as the four gospel accounts. They tell of the life of Jesus Christ with the purpose of causing faith in Christ as the Son of God. The apostle John sums it up pretty well when he writes, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). Matthew and Luke both record the birth of Christ and some of the things associated with His birth. All four accounts tell of events starting at about age thirty, including the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But, only Luke tells anything of Jesus between the time He was an infant and the time He began that earthly ministry. Luke tells of an event in the life of Jesus when he was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-50). This account tells how Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem when they went to the Passover feast. They departed after the feast, leaving Jesus behind, supposing that he was with them. After traveling a days journey, they discovered their son was not with them and returned to Jerusalem where they found him in the temple of God. Though there may well be a few good truths concerning Jesus being the Son of God found in this text, it seems that there is a much greater parallel lesson for us to learn from this text.
Since Jesus was and is the only means to eternal salvation, leaving Jesus behind can be parallel to leaving God’s way of salvation behind. Using this basis for our parallel, let us consider a few great truths for us today.
First, Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem (Luke 2:43). Salvation in Christ Jesus had its beginning in Jerusalem (Luke 24:47-48; Isaiah 2:2-3). But, man as was the case all through the Bible and as was prophesied in scripture, departed from God’s prescribed way. Paul wrote, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith…” (I Tim. 4:1). He also wrote, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:3). Other passages can be cited that foretell of man leaving God’s word behind. Those departures resulted first in an erring church, then to the establishment of the Roman Catholic church and then to the formation of multiple man made denominations.
Second, “And His parents knew it not (Luke 2:43). Joseph and Mary were not even aware that they had left the Saviour of man behind. In like manner, few of those who have left God’s way of salvation behind are truly aware that they are seeking to serve God contrary to His way. However, honest and sincerity do not negate disobedience. Paul spoke of his fellow Jews saying, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3).
Third, “they supposed Him to be in the company” (Luke 2:44). Many today suppose Jesus is among them, that is, that He is pleased with their teachings and practices, though they have left behind the inspired instructions of His word. However, supposing justifies nothing. The Philippian jailer supposed Paul and others had escaped, but he was wrong (Acts 16:27). Paul spoke of some who supposed that gain is godliness (I Tim. 6:5), but they were wrong. It takes proof, not supposition (I Thess. 5:21; Acts 17:11; II Tim. 2:15).
Fourth, they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance (Luke 2:44). Of course Joseph and Mary should be commended for seeking to find Jesus (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). However, one must seek for salvation in the right place. Just as Naaman first sought the cleansing of his leprosy in the wrong place, the king of Israel, so many seek to find the salvation that has been left behind by seeking in the wrong place. Some seek among their feelings, some among their opinions or the opinions of others or even to the traditions of their kinsfolk and acquaintance. But, such is seeking salvation in the wrong place.
Fifth, they then returned to Jerusalem and found Him (Luke 2:45). It was not until Joseph and Mary turned back to Jerusalem that they actually found that which they had left behind. He was right where they left Him. The Lord, thus salvation, has gone no where. It is man that has left the true salvation which is in Christ Jesus behind, not the other way around. One must do as God through the prophet Jeremiah urged the apostate nation of Judah to do when he said, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16). Sadly, far too many will respond the same as did Judah as is recorded, “But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16).
Joseph and Mary left the Saviour of the world in Jerusalem. Let us not do the same and fail to go back there to find Him.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]