Coming into focus

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As a relatively new Christian and one who is currently focusing quite intently on contemplative listening, spiritual direction, and the like, I have found myself reading the Scriptures with very different eyes…It is as if I have glasses with a new prescription that allow me to see what was once fuzzy, in absolute clarity.  The Lord has graced me with better hearing too.  It thrills me on a daily basis…I hope it is a blessing to you too and not just a “well, duh!” moment!!!!

About a month ago,  while I was attending church in Curaçao, and not understanding a word (it was in Dutch), I began to look at the following passage from Luke 2.  As God so often does when I am in His place of worship, He pried opened my eyes and I saw and I understood:

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple,sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[f] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[g] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[h] and in favour with God and man.

 Passover is a hugely important theme in both the Old and New Testaments and it is a theme that binds the story of the Jews with that of the Christians.  In the Old Testament, it was Passover, when God came over Egypt, killing all the first-born boys, but passed over the homes of the Jews, that were marked with the blood of a lamb.  The Jews subsequently passed over from Egypt to the safety on the other side of the Red Sea.  It is this story that is the precursor to the greatest story of all and the Lamb’s blood being shed to save us from death by God’s hand.  It is the precursor to our leaving this temporary home to the Promised Land and life everlasting with Him.  We celebrate the Christian festival of Easter, to commemorate Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins and being resurrected on the third day, at around the same time as the Jews celebrate the Feast of the Passover.  I think this is not by chance.  Until I read Luke 2 just recently, I had thought that these two events mentioned here were the only references to the Passover story and anaology.  However, upon reading Luke 2, I see that this too is a divine foretelling of what will happen at another Passover festival.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They did this every year, which suggests to us that Jesus going to Jerusalem for Passover, before He went to the Cross was not unusual for a Jew.  What is interesting, I think, is that Luke mentions that He was twelve, at the time…a traditional coming of age when Jewish boys are able to read from the Torah, in the Temple.
When it came time to leave Jerusalem, Jesus stayed behind – as He would, after His Crufixion.  Mary and Joseph were unable to find Him in their party…just as the Marys and Joanna found no Jesus when they returned to His tomb.  It was not until three days later, that Mary and Joseph found their twelve year old at the Temple and Jesus responded matter-of-factly “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Three…the sacred number…the number that spoke of the number of days that passed before the Marys and Joanna returned to the tomb to find just bandages.  Three days – until Jesus presented Himself to these women and His disciples (though they did not recognise Him) expecting Him to be in His Father’s house:
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
                                                                                                                                         Luke 24

When Peter realised that Jesus had indeed risen and returned to them, he “marvelled”, just as His parents before him (when they found Him at the Temple), were “astonished”.  The parallels continue – when Jesus told Mary and Joseph that they should have expected Him to be in His Father’s house, they did not understand what He was saying; and when the Marys and Joanna went to tell the apostles in Luke 24:11 what they had seen, “11 ..these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

I could go on and on.. but I think you get the message.  God speaks to us, He warns us, He comforts us, He prepares us, but so often we have preconceived notions about things and have our heads filled up with “busy work” that we fail to see and hear what God is saying.  We should really never be surprised if something happens, it seems to me, because God does provide warnings and the tools and pathways to deal with what is going to happen.

 I think we could all try to focus a little better on what He’s trying to tell us…don’t you?

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