In the second chapter of Luke’s gospel account, we read of Joseph and Mary leaving Jesus behind in Jerusalem because they supposed that he was in their company (the group of folks traveling together). They travelled for a day, realized he wasn’t there, and then three days later they found him. What spiritual lessons can we learn from this account?
“And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.” – Luke 2:43-46
The first thing we notice is that they went a day’s journey, but after they noticed he wasn’t with them it took them three days to find him. Brothers and sisters, whenever we depart from the Lord, it will usually take us more time and effort to get back to him than it took us to depart. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that sin easily besets us. Because of our depraved human nature, it is easy to pull away from God and difficult to find our way back.
Next, we consider the assumption that Joseph and Mary made about Jesus being with them. Many times we as God’s children make the same assumption (that Jesus is in our midst) just because we gather together in a building with the word “church”, “Jesus”, or “God” printed on the outside. You might be saying, “Wait; what about that scripture that says ‘where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them’?” Well, let’s read it carefully. (Before we try to figure out what the scriptures mean, we should check to see what they actually say.)
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20
We notice that he promises to be in the midst of his children when they are gathered together in his name. But we don’t always gather in his name. Sometimes we gather together because we’re looking forward to seeing folks in our church and visiting with them—kind of like a family reunion—but we don’t have the Lord as the foremost One on our minds and hearts. Colossians 1:18 tells us that Christ is to have the preeminence in all things. We shouldn’t gather together just because it’s Sunday morning at 10:30 (or whenever you meet) and it’s the regular routine, but we should gather because we want to see our Lord. Do we gather on Sunday morning because we love this organization called the church or because we love the Lord who built the church?
When we take our eyes off the Lord, we may eventually be surprised to look around and realize we left his side. Then, we struggle trying to get back to where we were when he was first and foremost in our life when we enjoyed sweet fellowship with him. Let us never assume that he’s in our company but to instead be diligent in seeking him daily. When we keep our eyes on him in everything we do, we will know he’s in our company as we behold his glory daily.