Once there was a boy who got separated from his mother in a busy shopping mall. He was found by a security guard who took him back to the mall security office and gave him candy and let him watch a movie. When the security guard found the boy’s mother his comment to him was, “Don’t tell her I’m here.” The boy was treated so well by the security people that he did not want to go with his mother.
When parents lose a child there is only one thing they want to do; no matter what else they had been doing, everything is put on hold in order to find the child.
That was the case of Joseph and Mary when they lost Jesus. As we are told in Luke 2:41-52, Jesus’ parents took him to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover when he was 12 years old. At the conclusion of the feast, Joseph and Mary started for home, assuming that Jesus was in their company but Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary traveled a day’s journey before they realized Jesus was not in their group. They hurried back to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days of searching, they found Jesus in the temple of the Lord, talking to the teachers of the law. The grown-ups were amazed at the 12-year-old’s understanding and his answers.
Jesus’ parents expressed their frustration with Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”
To which Jesus responded, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
When our sin caused us to be lost from our Heavenly Father, nothing else mattered to him until we were restored to him:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5, ESV)
As one scholar put it, Jesus came so that we sinners would feel just as much at home in God’s house as Jesus did.
We, on the other hand, are often like the boy who was lost in the mall. We get so wrapped up in worldly things that, when the heavenly Father finds us we say, “Don’t tell him we’re here. We’d just like to stay in the security guard’s office eating candy and watching movies rather than go back to our heavenly Father.
What the child did not realize is that he could not stay in the security guard’s office forever. It was not his home. His home was with his mother.
The same is true for us. We cannot stay in this world forever. It is not our eternal home. Our eternal home is with Jesus. And even though very often we have avoided him and wandered away from him, he still wants us back.
And he wants us to be about his business. Some think that God may have made the world but he just lets us run things. That he has no business here on earth. That’s not the case at all. He has important work for us to do. He wants us to tell others about Jesus so that they too can feel at home in God’s house.
Joseph and Mary remind us that we don’t have to be perfect in order to be about our heavenly Father’s business. They don’t exactly get high marks for their parenting in this text. They left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. And after all they knew about Jesus in connection with his miraculous birth, they did not think to look for him in the temple of the Lord until the third day.
But God chose them to be Jesus’ parents. As it says in the conclusion to this story, “Jesus was submissive to his parents.” He did not say, ‘Well you guys are clearly no good as parents so I’m going to look for better ones.’ No, he submitted to them.
The same is true for us when it comes to our heavenly Father’s business. We may think we are unqualified, and in many respects we are, but he wants us to carry out his business. He knows what he is doing.
And his business here on earth is to let others know that God loves them and wants them to be at home in his house. He wants sinners to know that they can be just as at home in God’s house as Jesus was.