Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.
After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 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. 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."
"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's 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 Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The gospels are not full of stories of the childhood of Jesus. We get two birth narratives and a story of Jesus preaching in the Temple when he's 12. All good stories can have multiple lessons to be learned. One is certainly that Jesus knew who he was and his purpose early. The other lesson, I appreciate as a parent... God chose the best parents in all of history for his only son. And they forgot him in Jerusalem. For several days. If the parents of Jesus can mess up this badly, it offers so much grace as parents and people.
Recently, a young girl invented a device that assists parents in remembering they have a child or infant in the car. After many deaths this year in the news from children left in hot cars, it was tremendous news. Some reacted by saying that forgetful or distracted people shouldn't be parents. The sin of leaving a child behind or forgetting them was and is unforgivable. And yet, it happens to many parents, even the holy parents. It reminded me that we all have sins we hold as unforgivable... and sins we forgive easily because they are common to us.
How far do we extend grace? How far does God? I think it's clear in our passage today that God didn't see such a massive parental failure as reason not to trust his son to the care or Mary and Joseph. But I think passages like Isaiah, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the sin of us all." God's grace goes all the way. And so must ours, if we are to be disciples of that messiah who came to save each of us. Who in your life has committed the unthinkable or unforgivable? Maybe it's an enemy. Maybe family. Maybe it's you. Start there. Keep going. Go all the way.