After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:46-48)
When my son ran off, I was without him for ten minutes. I was anxious, so I can only imagine how Mary felt. This was the first time she would be without Jesus for three days. The second time would pierce her soul.
Jesus was gone, and on the third day they found Him. This was the first transition in Jesus’ life, from childhood to adulthood. He was in the temple courts listening to the teachers and asking them questions, not because He didn’t understand, but because the teachers didn’t. They were amazed He understood everything in the Scriptures and was able to answer their questions.
The only question Jesus didn’t understand was the question His mother asked. In this transition to adulthood, He didn’t need to travel home with Mary and Joseph. He was already home in the temple hearing praises to God like the angels did in heaven, worshiping His Father, and talking about the history of the Jews, all of which he had experienced from above. Jesus was perfect. He wouldn’t have done anything on purpose to make his parents nervous. It was his job to remove anxiousness.
However, Jesus learned that day. He experienced in the flesh that the absence of a child, even an adult child, makes a mother very anxious. He would continue to learn the feelings and temptations that a being trapped in flesh feels to become more empathetic toward us. We’re told by Bible scholars that God didn’t change from the Old Testament to the New Testament, but I think Jesus did.