Passover Panic

Perhaps it’s time to stop searching for an answer to the question “Why?” and embrace the mystery of God’s grace instead.

Jesus was 12 years old when he traveled with his parents to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Thousands of bleating lambs and the voices of children and parents filled temple courts on the day of sacrifice. During the Passover festival, academics like Gamaliel and rabbis like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea—as well as high priests Annas and Caiaphas—gathered to hash out issues of Jewish doctrine. Students and rabbis were encouraged to sit in on these discussions and ask questions.

Leaving his family behind, preteen Jesus of Nazareth found a seat among these scholars and spent hours listening and taking part in their weighty debates. At the synagogue during Passover, Jesus revealed himself to men who would play future roles in his ministry, trial, death, and his resurrection.

Everyone who heard him [Jesus] was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:47)

Did Annas and Caiaphas remember this boy when they handed him to the Romans for scourging and crucifixion?

Did Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea remember Jesus’ adolescent smile when they removed the nails that held him to the cross?

Who remembered best the Savior’s boyish laugh—and quake at the memory of losing the Son of God for three days in the Passover throng?

His mother Mary.

She and her husband, Joseph, searched Jerusalem high and low, and found young Jesus in the temple surrounded by academia. Was she angry? (If you have a mother, you know the answer.)  

When his parents saw him [Jesus], 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 2:48)  

How “inconsiderate” God was. How perplexing his methods. How mystifying. Mary could not have known that she and Joseph (as well as everyone in the synagogue with Jesus), played roles in a divine sequence of events touching the destinies of millions. Jesus had surrounded himself with key players in God’s plan to redeem mankind, and Mary was playing her part.

 “Why were you searching for me?” he [Jesus] asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they [Mary and Joseph] did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2:49-50)

In a “motherly moment” Mary lost perspective. She forgot who she was talking to. She could not overcome emotion and see the big picture. It wasn’t until she got home to Nazareth that Mary took stock of her “Passover panic.”

 Then he [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them [Mary and Joseph] and was obedient to them. BUT HIS MOTHER TREASURED ALL THESE THINGS IN HER HEART. (Luke 2:51)

Mary’s earthly life unfurled with her son for 21 more years. She embraced the mystery of God’s grace, without comprehending fully the reason for Jesus’ actions. And she must have wondered about them time and again.

Sometimes we yield to “Passover panic” when God hides his reasons from us. We may lose perspective in an emotional motherly moment.

But in a quiet space, let’s take stock of “all these things” and embrace the mystery of God’s grace.

God never criticizes anyone for asking “Why?” But if you do ask it, be prepared: God will remind you that he controls a divine sequence of events that touch eternal souls—and your appointed role in events is as crucial as it was for Mary, the mother who nurtured the Savior of the World.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (Ephesians 1:6-7) 

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:16)

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