Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘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. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour. (Luke 2.41-52)
Journeys begin in so many different places. The journey to Jerusalem for Jesus began very early on – when he was a child it seems. It was a regular occurrence Luke tells us for Mary and Joseph to go up to Jerusalem for the Passover. But it was no day trip. Nazareth to Jerusalem was a long journey and I suspect it could have been hazardous – but they were travelling with a group of their relatives and friends which would have made it better and more enjoyable. Perhaps they were all from the same synagogue and this was what they did together.
Reading this passage again makes me realise just how religious Jesus’ upbringing was. This was a serious commitment by his parents, to leave home and job and community, every year for this religious festival at the very heart of the nation and of their faith – Jerusalem and the Temple.
It also makes me realise that Jerusalem was not a strange place to Jesus at all, it was all there in his background and I also wonder whether he continued to go up for the festival every year, with his parents, relatives and friends in those hidden years before his public ministry began.
Certainly it was a well trodden path therefore from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus knew the way like the back of his hand and so when he finally set his face for Jerusalem and the final journey he knew where he was going, in every sense.
Tracing the beginning of our journey might be a useful thing to do as we approach Holy Week together. Who have you travelled with? Where were you taken? Have you walked well trodden paths in your life – or do you always search for new scenery?
I give thanks for my own journey to this point, this real point in time. I don’t know precisely where I will be going next – none of us does – but I know that I can travel in confidence with the God who always travels with his people, through the familiar and the unfamiliar.
some paths are familiar to me,
I have travelled them many times before.
Other paths are new
and the terrain is unfamiliar.
Wherever I go,
give me the confidence that it is with you that I travel.