Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled 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.
My son was precocious. When he was about three, we went to a play. Afterward he ran through the legs of adults, disappearing outside. I screamed, but it took precious time for those around me to realize my little boy was missing. After ten long minutes, a woman brought him back to me. It was one of the most heart-wrenching times of my life even though I believed God would answer my prayers to protect him.
Jesus was twelve, close to adulthood, when He went missing. Mary was only one or two years older when she gave birth to Him. He was probably with His family when they started out, but they traveled in large groups, so Jesus would’ve been with friends or his brothers or cousins. Pre-teens and teens are impulsive as their brains aren’t fully developed. Jesus left the group because He was drawn to something else.
I’m sure Mary and Joseph were as panicked as I was when Jesus disappeared and that everyone in the crowd looked for Him. It was evening. They had stopped for dinner and to camp for the night. With possibly six other children (Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters) they would’ve waited another day to travel back to Jerusalem on foot. Mary and Joseph couldn’t have slept that night. I’m sure they spent the night in prayer. When we feel helpless and hopeless, we go to God in prayer.
God, right now there are people, who don’t know you, feeling helpless and hopeless. Please make yourself known to them and give them peace.