Pastor's wife: 'If we are searching for Jesus today, church is a sure-fire place to look'


The girls sat around the wall.  Some on mats, some in plastic chairs.  Their breakfast trays came so they ate while we studied. 

Last Sunday at 7 a.m. sharp, we had the privilege of meeting the girls at the county jail for Bible study.

The morning’s lesson was from Luke 2:41-52.  It’s one of my faves.  I used to call it, “Jesus was Lost.”  I can most assuredly tell you Jesus was NEVER, EVER lost. 

God’s Word amazingly applies to our lives today.  Let’s unpack it together.

The first thing I love is that it was Mary and Joseph’s custom to take Jesus to the temple.  Mercy, if it was good enough for Mary and Joseph to take the Son of God to church, then it’s a genius example for us to follow.    

According to commentaries, most festivalgoers traveled in caravans for safety.  Women hung with the womenfolk, while men stayed together.  Because Jesus was 12, He would have been considered almost an adult.  That meant He could have been with the women or the men.  (One of my kids was accidentally left at church once, so I get how that could happen.)

They knew something was wrong.  They could feel it but not put their finger on it.  After a day, they stopped.  It was never their intention to leave Jesus; they had just gotten busy, were distracted with other things.

Mary and Joseph began searching for Jesus among their family and friends.  Nowadays, when problems come, we often turn to humans first.  Family and friends are important to have, but we won’t always find Jesus there.  This is especially true for those with addiction. Family and friends cannot rescue or save.  Only Jesus Himself can.

Then they did what makes so much sense:  they went back to the place they had last been in the presence of Jesus.  Or felt His presence.

It took three days to find Him.  He was in the temple.  If we are searching for Jesus today, church is a sure-fire place to look.

Time without Jesus was stressful.  Though the Bible does not record this as fact, it’s fair to expect harsh words, finger pointing, blame, distress, and fear on the road back to Jerusalem.  When we don’t spend time with Jesus, we are not our best.  We are trusting in our own wisdom, our own strength.

A stressed-out Mary did an unexpected thing. She seemed to scold Jesus.  “Why have you treated us this way?” It sounds harsh.  She was clearly upset. She had been frantically searching for her son.  We can feel slighted, asking the same question today when things haven’t worked out as we hoped.  We may belt out to God, “Why have you treated me this way?”

Mary said, “We have been anxiously searching…”  That’s proof that time away from Jesus brings out anxiety.

When Jesus answered, they didn’t understand.  Had they already forgotten all that had happened?  This was Mary and Joseph.  THE Mary and Joseph who had seen angels, given birth in a stable, entertained shepherds and wise men.  Time away from Jesus may cause us to forget all God has done.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 reminds us that God truly wants us to seek Him: “You will seek me and find me when you see me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…”  Oh, how He longs to be close to us.

We packed up our bags as the girls returned to their cells.  We pray they seek Jesus with all their heart.  I hope you will, too.

Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at