A reflection by the Rev'd Russell Duncan for Christmas II 2nd January 2022

Luke 2:41-52

Jesus said to his parents “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them (Luke 2:49-50)

How many times have we asked the question “Did you not know?” to  family, friends and colleagues and vice versa? Did you not know that I would be away?  Did you not know that they had died?  Did you not know that I have never spoken to them? immediately come to mind.  I am sure that we can all think of such occasions, such questions and how we felt.

Years ago when I began my legal traineeship I dealt with my first executry sale. An elderly client had died with no immediate family. All was going very smoothly until the day before the transaction was due to settle. For some reason I decided to go along to the house and check that everything was in order.  In particular that it had been cleared of all its furniture and personal effects. Much to my dismay nothing had been done. There had been a lack of communication. The executors had assumed that the lawyers were dealing with this. I had assumed that they were.  Thankfully we were able to instruct a removal firm at short notice.  Everything settled on time. A great relief. Ever since, in similar circumstances, I have always made sure that someone took responsibility and confirmed that it had been done. A lesson, however unexpected,  had been learnt.

Our gospel from Luke marks an important point in the life of Jesus. It was laid down by law that every adult male Jew who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem must attend the Passover

Professor William Barclay reminds us that “it was not through carelessness that his parents did not miss Jesus. Usually the women started out much earlier than the men. The two sections would not meet until the evening encampment was reached when they realised in horror that Jesus was not there”.  After rushing back to Jerusalem it took them three frantic, anxious and no doubt harrowing days to find him in the Temple.  We are not told who looked after Jesus during this period, who fed him, where he slept, how he felt  or if he was concerned in any way. All we know is that Jesus seems genuinely surprised that his parents would not have known that he was in “his Father’s house”.

Professor Barclay comments further “See how very gently but definitely Jesus takes that name “father” from Joseph and gives it to God. At some time Jesus must have discovered his own unique relationship with God. At this first Passover, with manhood dawning, there came a sudden realization that he was, in a unique sense,  the Son of God”.

At the beginning of this new year may we not only ponder and treasure, like Mary,  the question raised by Jesus “Did you not know?” but take encouragement and hope from Isaiah when a similar question was asked about God:-

Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the Lord,

The Creator of the ends of the earth,

Neither faints nor is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the weak,

And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary.

But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.