Finding Jesus

By J. L. Leifeste

“His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. (42) And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. (43) When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; (44) but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. (45) So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. (46) Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. (47) And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. (48) So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’ (49) And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (50) But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (51) Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:41-51).

All of us try to find things. Sometimes, we lose very valuable things without truly appreciating their importance. And there are things that have such little value that we do not worry if we misplace them. Yet, we always try to find those things that we consider precious to us.

Joseph and Mary lost Jesus. He was valuable to them as “their child” upon the earth. But He is more valuable to all of mankind as the only Savior of each person’s soul (Matt. 1:21; Jn. 3:16-17; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Phil. 2:5-11). Joseph and Mary made mistakes in losing Jesus, and in their efforts to find Him.

Many people try to find things of earthly value. Some people spend years searching for gold and gems, or working for other things of earthly value, such as expensive houses or cars. By considering these things as most important, they are making the greatest mistakes of their lives.


Joseph and Mary were given the obligation to raise Jesus from His infancy (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-38; 2:51). That obligation included paying attention to His actions and location.

At His birth, an angel told some shepherds where they could find Jesus: “...there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) ...You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Lk. 2:11-12).

We, too, must find Jesus. Each of us is accountable for our own sins (Jer. 31:30-34; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 14:12). When we sin, we lose our spiritual life (James 1:15; Rom. 6:23). Jesus is the only way to regain spiritual life. Therefore, He is our most important goal. We must use great caution to avoid mistakes as we try to find Jesus, and then avoid losing Him. Salvation has been offered to us through Christ (Jn. 14:6; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 2:9-11; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Jn. 2:2). The New Testament is where we find Him.


Joseph and Mary did not know where Jesus was because of their neglect. They became careless about watching Him and failed in their obligation to Him, to themselves, and to the heavenly Father.

We cannot afford to neglect our salvation in Christ (Matt. 25:1-30; Acts 4:12; Eph. 6:10-18): “…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (4) God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit...?” (Heb. 2:3-4). If we neglect His salvation for us, we will die in our sins (2 Thess. 1:7-9).


Joseph and Mary assumed that Jesus was in their company. But when they did not find Him nearby, they searched among their kin and acquaintances. They were searching in the wrong places. They finally returned to Jerusalem and, after three days of searching, found Jesus at the temple.

We must not assume that salvation in Christ is found in one place or another. Through the gospel records and the inspired teachings of the apostles, we find Christ and the truth of salvation (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We cannot find Him in man-made religions or creeds. And we cannot find Him by only partly accepting and partly obeying the gospel message (Rom. 1:16; 1 Pet. 4:17; Lk. 6:46; Matt. 7:21-23). We must observe and obey the whole teaching of the New Testament (Jn. 12:47-48; Matt. 28:20). Like the Bereans, we must search the scriptures (Acts 17:11).

Therefore, because each person is accountable for his or her own sins, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24; Acts 8:37-38). We must repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:37-38; 20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Then we must be baptized in water for the forgiveness of our sins (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:20-21). This is a rebirth (Jn. 3:3-5). This baptism puts us into Christ, where salvation is (Rom. 6:3-6; Gal. 3:26-29).

Joseph and Mary had Jesus with them, but they lost Him and had to find Him again. When we receive salvation in Christ, we have Him and must not lose Him (1 Cor. 9:27; Heb. 3:12-15). We must be faithful (2 Pet. 1:10-11; Rev. 2:10). And we must help others correctly receive the gospel message and find Christ (Matt. 28:18-20).

Search for Jesus Christ in the right place and in the correct way, “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).