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YESHUA [JESUS] – LOST AND FOUND!

(Saturday, May 08, 2021)

1.0 CONTEXT

Among the Four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark was written between 50 AD and 70 AD which may be the reference book for other writers as well who wrote the remaining three Gospels between 64 AD and 70 AD or may be in latter stages e.g. The Gospel of John between 69 AD and 90 AD.

Among the 40 writers of 66 books of the Bible, Luke the beloved physician or doctor [Colossians 4:14] is unique and only writer who comes from the Gentile background [Colossians 4:11].

He was companion of Apostle Paul [Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11; Colossians 4:10-14; Acts 1:1; 20:5-38; 21:17; 27:2-44; 28:16], and in the Bible, he has written two books, the Book of Luke [one of the four Gospels in the New Testament] and the Acts of Apostles [also known as the Acts].

Both the books were not written for the larger audience, but were written for an individual i.e. Theophilus [Luke 1:3-4; Acts 1:1] to apprise him about Yeshua [in the Gospel of Luke], post events of ascension of Yeshua and Apostle Paul [in the Acts].

If we go through the Bible, it is silent about Yeshua’s [Jesus’] childhood years, except for these few brief accounts in Matthew 2:1-13; Luke 2:1-40 [Yeshua’s Birth, good news to shepherds, the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and singing, circumcision of Yeshua, presentation to Lord in temple, visit of wise men from the East],  Matthew 2:13-23 [the Holy Family’s trip from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod the Great against Yeshua] and Luke 2:41-52 [at the age of 12 years, Yeshua lost-found in Jerusalem].

It must have been a story that Mary told about Yeshua’s [Jesus’] childhood, for it bears the marks of authenticity within it.

In Luke’s Gospel we find details of early childhood of Yeshua. However, Luke doesn’t mention — or perhaps isn’t aware of — the Holy Family’s trip from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod the Great against Yeshua [Matthew 2:13-23]. Rather, Luke focuses on Jesus’ gradual growth to maturity in Nazareth.

Yeshua was born around the time that the Roman Empire had expanded throughout the Mediterranean region, creating a network of land and sea routes used for transportation and communication.

The Roman road system was comprised of a network of over 63,000 miles of paved roads, connecting centres of government, culture and power stretching from present day Spain to Iran.

Roman roads were used by traders, builders, soldiers and government officials and greatly contributed to the efficiency of the empire’s expansion. A passport system was used for identification of prestigious officials who had privileges of staying overnight in mansions.

Regional borders, such as the Jordan River that separated Jewish and Gentile regions on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, were stationed with tax collectors and possessed increased cultural diversity.

The least expensive mode of transportation was, of course, walking. Walking speed depended on the climate, season, and terrain, but one could generally walk about 20 miles in a day. Itineraries and travelogues of ancient Egyptians suggest that such a rate was typical for millennia.

People walking the Persian Royal Road from Persepolis to Sardis (1,560 miles) averaged 18 miles a day, completing the entire journey in three months; government couriers changing horses at posting stations could cover the same distance in nine days.

A horse-based relay postal system could transport a letter over 500 miles in 24 hours. The Book of Acts recorded Peter walking 40 miles from Joppa to Caesarea in two days. Of course, Jews did not permit travel on the Sabbath [Acts 1:12], when walking was limited to 2,000 cubits [about three-fifths of a mile i.e. about half a mile].

One of the most terrifying dangers in ancient Palestine was the heavily forested valley of the Jordan River. Lions and bears lived in the woods, and travelers had to fend off wild boars.

Archeologists have unearthed documents warning travelers of the forest’s dangers. And “bandits, pirates of the desert and robbers” were also common hazards along the major trade routes. The threat of outlaws often forced solitary travelers to join trade caravans or travel in groups for protection.

2.0 WHY YESHUA [JESUS] WAS LOST?

“Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.” [Luke 2:41] Theoretically, Jewish men were required to go to three feasts in Jerusalem each year — Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles — though only the Passover was strictly observed.

Those at some distance, especially the poor, could not attend all the feasts. But women — and sometimes children –might attend, too. Passover celebrated God delivering the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and pilgrims to the feast would stay a minimum of two days, sometimes longer.

Passover was the greatest of the three festivals which all Jewish men had to keep in Jerusalem. Whole families and village groups traveled together to Jerusalem, swamping the capital with pilgrims – men, women and children. The city’s normal population was about 25,000-30,000.

At Passover there were as many as 100,000 – 125,000. Pilgrims to the feast in Jerusalem usually traveled in “a group of travelers or caravan” for security reasons, since a person traveling by himself was in danger from bandits who could swoop down on lone travelers.

Yeshua was twelve years old at one of the feasts of Passover, just on the brink of manhood. As per the Jewish custom, during a boy’s twelfth year he was prepared for his induction as a full member of the religious community.

Next year, as a man, Jesus will be required to attend Passover; this year he is learning what is involved. This particular year Joseph and Mary brought Yeshua [Jesus] with them for a reason: he had turned twelve, and was therefore counted as a man, no longer a child.

They say that the concept of childhood is a modern invention, but if we look at Jewish customs in biblical Israel we see that there was a definite demarcation between child and adult. A child was a child until the age of twelve. Then he was an adult.

Women and children formed one group, men another. The caravan was made up of many of Mary and Joseph’s friends and relatives from Galilee, and they naturally supposed that Yeshua was somewhere in the crowd.

There was a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing between the two groups, but people like Joseph and Mary could go a whole travelling day without seeing each other. The women and children generally would start their journey ahead of the men, because they travelled slower.

When the caravan set out from Jerusalem to journey back to Nazareth, each of Yeshua’s [Jesus’] parents assumed he was with the other. Previously he had travelled with the women; now he was supposed to travel with the men. But as it happens, he was with neither.

His absence was not noted until the end of the day, when family groups of men and women assembled for the evening meal. Yeshua was nowhere to be seen, they became alarmed. By this time they were probably 20 to 25 miles north of Jerusalem.

3.0 WHY YESHUA [JESUS] WAS FOUND AFTER 3 DAYS?

First, they searched among the campers in their company, relatives and friends. When they inquired and discovered that no one had seen Yeshua, they [Mary, Joseph and probably other family members] set out to return to the Jerusalem, to search for the young man, probably leaving early the next morning and arriving in the city about nightfall.

This would have taken a day’s travel, especially as they were moving against the flow of other pilgrims leaving the city. Jesus had now been missing for two days.

On the other hand what really might had happened with Yeshua in these 2 days? I believe we see a somewhat naive twelve-year-old, who is so engrossed in discussing and learning the Scriptures that he hasn’t realized the caravan had left without him.

He has found a place to sleep, perhaps, with friends who hadn’t gone home so early. Perhaps he didn’t believe that his parents would have gone home without him — that they must still be in Jerusalem.

Maybe, when he discovered they had already left, he decided to stay put where they could find him. And, surely, they should know where to find him — in the Temple, in his Father’s house.

Most probably on the way to Jerusalem, Mary, Joseph and other family members searched for Yeshua and had asked with other group members about him who were leaving the city. Moreover, probably they had also knocked the doors of their relatives in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas, especially in Bethany.

“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.” [Luke 2:46-47] And where was he? Deeply engrossed in discussion with the learned teachers.

The members of the Temple-Sanhedrin, who on ordinary days sat as a Court of Appeal, from the close of the Morning Sacrifice to the time of the Evening Sacrifice, were wont on Sabbaths and feast-days to come out upon ‘the Terrace’ of the Temple, and there to teach.

Sometimes we hear this passage explained as if Yeshua were teaching the teachers, but that misunderstands the context. The listeners would be sitting on the ground at the feet of the teachers, who were also seated. The rabbinical style of teaching used questions on the part of the students, from which discussion would rise.

In the course of the discussion, this intense boy of twelve was both listening and asking probing, insightful questions that indicated to all his depth of understanding. Everyone who heard Jesus on this occasion was struck by his understanding.

At age twelve, Jesus is listening to teaching in the temple during Passover. But 20 years or so later, he is the Teacher in these same courts, and his many, many hearers are still struck with his insight and authority.

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.’ And Yeshua said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me?’

[Luke 2:48-49] Yeshua seems a bit surprised that his parents had to search for him at all. Shouldn’t they understand where he would be? With adult status, Yeshua took his rightful place among the adults in the Temple. He was no longer confined to the Women’s Court when he visited the Temple in Jerusalem with his family.

Now twelve years old, he moved naturally to the space reserved for men – the Court of the Israelites. He assumed the status of an adult man, with the particular responsibilities assumed by men.

With these responsibilities went privileges, the first being his right to converse with the high-status scholars who dominated the Temple colleges for promising young men. This is why the finding of Yeshua in the Temple marks a pivotal moment in Yeshua’s life. He had been a boy; now he was a man.

Yeshua replied to his parents, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s business [house]?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Yeshua grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” [Luke 2:49-52]

4.0 HOW WE LOSE OR REMAIN IN THE FELLOSHIP OF YESHUA [JESUS]?

We can see now that just as Mary and Joseph lost the presence of Yeshua, we can lose the presence of Yeshua too. That leads to the next main point in this message: How we lose the fellowship of Yeshua? And …what can we do about it to remain in His fellowship? Let us discuss and understand them one by one:

4.1 How we lose the fellowship of Yeshua [Jesus]

  • We can lose a sense of fellowship with Yeshua the Messiah [Jesus Christ], but we can’t lose our relationship with Yeshua. Throughout this ordeal, Mary and Joseph never lost their relationship with Yeshua. It was intact. What they lost was His presence with them. When we are born again, we become a child of God. Nothing can change that relationship. The devil can’t make us lose our salvation. Once we are born again, we can never become anything other than a blood-bought child of God. If we are born again, we don’t want to sin! We are a new creature in Christ and our heart’s desire will be to live a holy life. If we are living in constant, persistent, continual sin and still claim to be saved, we are sadly deceived. So, if we are truly born again, we can’t lose our relationship, but we can certainly get out of fellowship with Yeshua [Jesus]. That’s what some of us have lost. We don’t have a sense of sweet, joyous fellowship with Yeshua like we once had.
  • Even though we may have been close to Yeshua at one time we can still lose a sense of Yeshua’s presence. Both Mary and Joseph made a dangerous assumption: They each thought Yeshua was with the other. In one hand, Joseph was accustomed to Yeshua [Jesus] being in the children’s group, and even though he had turned twelve, he must have assumed that since he wasn’t with the men, that he was where he always walked, with the older children. On the other hand, Mary assumed that now Yeshua had turned twelve, he must be with the men. Their assumptions were logically correct, but their negligence lost the presence of Yeshua. Here we notice three important details in this story: (1) Who lost the presence of Yeshua? The very ones who were the closest to Him, His parents! The ones least likely to lose Him. (2) Where did they lose His presence or accompaniment? In the temple, which in our language would be the church. (3) What were they doing when they lost His presence or accompaniment? They were involved in religious activity, observing the Feast of Passover. Sometimes the very people whom we would least expect to lose the presence or accompaniment of Yeshua do exactly that.
  • When we take steps away from Yeshua, we can lose intimacy with Yeshua while thinking that He is still with us. Now how did Mary and Joseph lose the presence or accompaniment of Yeshua? They just started walking from Jerusalem toward Nazareth, thinking Yeshua was somewhere in their travel group. But with every single step, they were moving farther away from Yeshua’s presence. What can we learn from this? When a person loses fellowship with Yeshua, it doesn’t happen overnight. They don’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’m going to walk away from Yeshua today. Let me find something really wicked I can do.” No, they generally begin to take small steps in the wrong direction and they keep convincing themselves that Yeshua is still with them. Some of us may argue that Yeshua has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you?’” Yes. “Doesn’t the Bible teach that God is omnipresent and there is no place we can go where we can escape from His presence?” Most certainly, but don’t miss the point. Yeshua didn’t leave Mary and Joseph; they left Him. Yeshua won’t leave us, but there is a type of attitude and behavior we can adopt in which we lose intimacy with Yeshua and the only thing that causes that is sin. Sin has an exponential nature in which it starts small and grows like a dangerous infection. That’s why we ought to hate sin. What starts as a baby step into sin becomes a giant step, and that step becomes a mile and that mile becomes 20 miles. Mary and Joseph traveled one day’s journey without Yeshua—their first step set the wrong direction.

4.2 How we remain and come back in the fellowship of Yeshua [Jesus]

  • Acknowledge that we have left Him. We can only imagine the shock and the regret Mary and Joseph experienced when they came to the campsite at the end of the day’s walk. If they reacted like most of us, they would have started blaming each other. “I thought he was back there with you! After all, he’s 12 now and he’s supposed to walk with the men!” “Me? He has always walked with you; after all He’s not even my real son!” But fortunately, Joseph and Mary didn’t start arguing, they started working together to solve the problem. Mary and Joseph admitted it, “He’s not here. We’ve got to do something about it!” I’m sure they were embarrassed when everybody else discovered it as well. It was not time to cover up and make excuses; it was time to declare a personal emergency! We will never reclaim fellowship with Yeshua until we are honest enough to acknowledge that we have lost it and step back and move in the direction where we left Him, like Joseph and Mary did.
  • Diligently begin to seek Him. I’m sure that after Mary and Joseph discovered Yeshua was missing, they made plans to return to Jerusalem. It was dangerous to travel at night, so they probably bedded down for a sleepless night. As the dawn approached they set off to retrace their steps to Jerusalem. An amazing part of the story is found in Luke 2:46. It says “after three days they found him.” That may mean three days after they left him or three days after they returned to Jerusalem. The shortest time would mean they spent one day walking away, one day walking back and a full day searching Jerusalem. The point is, they didn’t find him immediately but they weren’t going to give up until they found him again. They didn’t quit after one day and say, “Well, he’s twelve he can take care of himself. That’s all we are going to search. We’ll just call the authorities and have them put his picture on the milk skins in Jerusalem.” There’s a great lesson here. The lesson is that when we have lost fellowship with Yeshua, it may take some time to fully restore our intimacy. We must persist in seeking Yeshua. Intimacy and fellowship must be built. We will need to take as many steps back to fellowship as we took walking away. But the important thing is that we change direction. Some of we need to repent today. We need to begin to seek the Lord diligently and persistently. It’s not enough to hear a sermon and have a little emotional spasm and say, “Yeah, I need to have my fellowship restored with Yeshua. I’m going to do something about it.” But then, by tomorrow, we’ve totally forgotten about it. That won’t work. We need to start seeking the Lord daily, in a quiet time of prayer, reading and meditating the words of God [Bible study] and practicing them on our daily living. But trying it for one or two days won’t help us. Don’t give up. Be as persistent as Mary and Joseph were in searching for Yeshua.
  • Return to the place we left Him. Where did Mary and Joseph finally find Yeshua? They found Him in the Temple where they had left Him. Now this may be so simple we miss it. But if we want to find Yeshua again, if we want our sense of fellowship and intimacy rekindled, we must go back to where we left Him. For some of us it simply means going back to where we “stopped doing the Father’s business.” When we stopped serving the Lord and said, “I’m just going to take a vacation.” That vacation has become a permanent retirement. That’s where some of us need to go to find fellowship with Yeshua. Others of us need to go back to the Father’s house. Maybe we are no longer seeking fellowship with the church, the body of Christ. We need to go back to that time in our life when we stopped being faithful and deal with it. We need to return to that place where we got angry at the church or at God and we just dropped out. For others, it could be those tiny steps of sin that we started taking a long time ago. It’s when some of us started opening our mind to pornography, gambling, or drug abuse. It may be when we allowed that spirit of bitterness or anger take hold in our heart. Some of us can trace our spiritual chill to that time in our past when we got into an adulterous relationship or went through a messy divorce. Or we took a job that influenced us to compromise our Christian convictions. We need to go back to that place and make it right with God. Then and only then will we find the intimacy and fellowship that God wants to have with us.

6.0 CONCLUSION

Is there something in our life right now that constitutes a step away from Yeshua? It’s so easy to justify it, “Oh, Yeshua is with us, He won’t mind.” Don’t deceive ourselves. The deep fear behind every loss or problem is that we lost the fellowship of God. 

When Joseph and Mary realized that Yeshua was not present, all forward progress stopped. And they retraced their steps. They went back to where they thought they lost Yeshua. Like Mary and Joseph, we too can lose the fellowship of God if we don’t watch where He wants to lead us. If we find ourselves in that position, we need to stop everything and go back to where we last knew Him.

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