I still sometimes have nightmares about it…
Our precious firstborn son, the hope of all our people… and for two whole days we lost him.
He was twelve years old, growing up so fast… of course he wanted to go around with the older boys, and Yosef persuaded me that we should allow him more independence. Even in Jerusalem at Passover time. And with the rest of our brood to manage, I had my hands full anyway. I just assumed that Yeshua was with the men – and when we set off home again, Yosef assumed that he was back with me.
I will never forget the horror of realising that Yeshua wasn’t with us. Or with anyone else from Nazareth. But by then it was dark and there was nothing we could do until morning. Then half a day to get back to Jerusalem, and the frantic, frustrating search that left us exhausted and desperate. When we hadn’t found him by nightfall, I started to panic. Anything could happen to a young boy alone in a big city… I didn’t sleep at all that night.
It was Yosef’s idea to go to the Temple first thing in the morning – to collect our thoughts, and to pray for guidance. And there he was. Not loitering around, either, but sitting at the feet of one of the rabbis, taking part in the debate as if he were a proper scholar!
He was so obviously relieved to see us that the sting went right out of my anger. He’d done the sensible thing: found a safe place and stayed put until we found him. And he was surprised that it had taken us so long. “The Temple is my Father’s own house – where else would I be?”
Yosef apologised to the rabbi for any inconvenience, but he assured us that there had been none – in fact, Yeshua was such a promising student that he wanted to take him on there and then! We know he’s a bright lad, always top of his Torah class, but we’d never thought… So when we got home, Yosef felt he had to go to our Rabbi and ask if there was any possibility that some wealthy sponsor might be found, so that Yeshua could go and study in Jerusalem. And Rabbi said, “Yes, maybe,” and came over to talk to Yeshua about it. But Yeshua wasn’t in the least bit interested in becoming a rabbi. “I want to stay here and make things,” he insisted. And then he winked at me and added, “Like my Father.”
So now he’s in the workshop with Yosef every day, learning his trade. They’re just like any other father and son. But I keep on wondering about him. In some ways he’s so normal; in other ways he’s so strange. He’s truly devout; but when he prays to God, he sounds irreverent – he addresses the Almighty as ‘Abba’ all the time, just as if he’s talking to Yosef, and I get embarrassed by it. I’ve warned him not to do it in public; people would be shocked!
We know – and Yeshua knows – that he’s someone special; but it does raise some very awkward questions. I thought it would become easier as he gets older, but it actually gets more difficult. And when he teases me by dropping hints in front of other people… I have to keep warning him to be careful. If he goes around telling people that he’s the son of God, he’ll be accused of blasphemy – even though it’s true…