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Careful look - Jesus, missing at 12. A search...with care.
Art courtesy of Bill Hughes of
Art courtesy of Bill Hughes of

Prayerful reflection on the search for the young Jesus - GG
What do you think happened during this particular search?
Is it similar to searches for missing people today?

We can reflect on
so many questions...and more questions...and their answers.
Who, why, when, where, from where to where, whose, which of a #, how, which, what...
What is his name?

What could everyone have said?

(Add: Isn't this _____? John 9:8
Add: No, he only looks like him. John 9:9

Jesus could have run away.
He could have had an needing help.
He could have died.
He could have been ed.
He could have been held and exploited for his skills.
He could have been taken by foreigners in another caravan.
He could have been brought to the poorhouse or an orphanage.
He could have been in detention by the authorities.
He could have joined the Jewish resistance against Herod and their Roman overseers.
Herod's successor could have finally found him.

What role could a scribe or a few have fulfilled?
Mary and Joseph were literate people. They could write Hebrew. But Egyptian? Persian? Macedonian?)

Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.
Jesus went "missing" during family travel when he was 12.
He was obviously trusted previously to go various places, because he was not closely supervised.

That was after the feast was over,
the boy stayed behind in Jerusalem,
but the parents, they were unaware of it.

Return home: Travel Day
Evening and morning: Day 1 (of search)
First the parents asked around the place where they were at that time.
"Where is he?"
("Direct Quote": Ex. 2:20; 2Sa 9:4; Job 20:7)
Spanish -¿Dónde está?
Ilokano -Sadino ti anyanna?
Tagalog - Saan siya naroon?
Italian - Dov'è finito?/Dove habita? (Where does he live?)
German - Wo ist er?
Ukrainian - фх тГэ?
Dutch - Waar bevindt hij zich?
French - Où est-il?
Hungarian - És hol van õ?
Polish - Gdzie on jest?
Icelandic - Hvar er hann?
Chinese -

In the caravan there were relatives. They asked all those who were with Cousin Elizabeth. They asked her son John who was an adolescent at that time. That very year, John had read scripture with the men as is the custom for s in the temple. John and Jesus had probably seen each other often all their lives. They had been not only cousins but friends since they were babies. The parents often saw them together, so they must have said:

"Surely Jesus is with you." (name change re: Isaiah 45:14)
German - Wirklich, nur bei dir ist Jesus.
French - C'est auprès de toi seulement que se trouve Jésus.
C'est chez toi seulement que l'on peut trouver Jésus.
Italian - Certamente Gesù è con te.
Spanish - Ciertamente Jesús está contigo.

John said:
"The boy is not with me."
(taken from Genesis 44:34; word order corrected for if)
German - Der Junge ist nicht mit/bei mir.
French - L'enfant n'est pas avec moi.
Italian - Il giovinetto non è con me.
Spanish - El joven no está conmigo.

So said Elizabeth and all the other relatives.

At one point, as soon as the parents found out Jesus wasn't where he was supposed to be or even likely to be, they decided:
"Let a search be made for ..." Jesus. (Selected words from Esther 2:2)
On devrait rechercher_____. (People should search for____.)- French

Mary and Joseph must have said to their friends, relations and acquaintances:
"Go and make a careful search for the/that child."
"Directquote": Words from Matthew 2:8.
Spanish - Vayan y busquen con diligencia al niño.
Ilokano - Inkay sapulen a naimbag ti ubing;
Tagalog - Humanyo kayo at inyong hanaping mabuti ang sanggol.
Cebuano - Lakaw kamo ug pangitaa ninyo pag-ayo ang bata.
German - Zieht hin und forscht genau nach dem Kind.
NT Greek - πορευθεντες ακριβως εξετασατε περι του παιδιου
Hungarian - Menjetek és szorgalmasan keressétek a gyermeket.
Norwegian - Dra av sted of forhør dere nøye om dette barnet!
Italian - Andate e cercate con ogni cura il bambino.
Persian/Farsi - بادقت به دنبال آن کودک بگرديد
- 你們去,仔細尋找那小孩子.

These are words from the Bible that can be used for holy purposes.
God's plan calls for careful discernment!

The parents must also have used the formal organization of this caravan to conduct their search. Each such caravan has a leader or a decision committee, scouts, defenders on fast animals, organizers, food suppliers and pilgrim families. Mary and Joseph must have been comfortable in thinking that any pilgrim in the caravan would never mean any harm to anyone in their family. They must have felt comfortable in giving details about Jesus to the pilgrims among the caravan organizers.

"Yes, do make a careful search for the child."
The people of responsibility added the particular details.
Here. + There. Matthew 24:23
Ici. + Là. - French
Hier. + Dort. - German
Ecco. + Là. - Italian
Aqui. + Ali. - Portuguese
Här. + Där. - Norwegian
Aquí. + Allí.- Spanish
As soon as (all of) you find him, report to me. Matthew 2:8
Quand vous l'aurez trouvé, faites-le-moi savoir. - French
Wenn ihr es/ihn gefunden habt, gebt mir Nachricht. - German
Quando l'avrete trovato, fatemelo sapere. - Italian
Men når I have fundet det, da forkynder mig det. - Danish
Tan pronto como lo encuentren, avísenme. - Spanish
A keď ho nájdete, príďte mi to oznámiť. - Slovak
Až je najdete, přijďte mi to oznámit. - Czech

Each friend and well-meaning stranger must have looked carefully, asked others and reported back whether they had a good lead or not.

The organizers said something like:
"I issued an order and a search was made."
(which when translated reads in some alphabetical languages:
Español - He dado orden para que investiguen los hechos.
Dansk - Jeg har givet befaling til at undersøge det.
Italiano - (Così) ho dato ordine di fare ricerche.
Français - J'ai donné l'ordre de faire des recherches.
Português - (Então) mandei que fizessem uma investigação.
Deutsch - Von mir ist Befehl gegeben worden, und man hat nachgesucht.
Polski - Wydalem przeto rozkaz i badania.)
("Direct Quote": Words from Ezra 4:19)

Did they see Jesus? Had they seen Jesus?

I don't know. Genesis 4:9; John 9:12
Chinese - 我 不 知 道.
German - Ich weiß (es) nicht.
French - Je ne (le) sais pas.
Italian - Non lo so.
Latin - Nescio.
Dutch - Hoe weet ik dat nu? (Wie würde ich das wissen?)
Spanish - No sé.
Russian - Не знаю.

What did they see? 2 Kings 20:15
Was haben sie gesehen? - German
Qu'ont-ils vu? - French
Che cosa han visto? - Italian
Hvad fikk de se? - Norwegian
Что они видели? - Russian
¿Qué vieron? - Spanish

"Your servant knows nothing at all." 1 Samuel 22:15

"We can say nothing to you one way or the other." Genesis 24:50
Spanish - Nosotros no podemos decir ni que sí ni que no.
Italian - Non possiamo dirti nulla.
French - Nous ne pouvons te parler ni en mal ni en bien.
German - Wir können dir nichts sagen, weder Böses noch Gutes.

We don't know. Matthew 21:27
Wir wissen es nicht. - German
Nous ne savons pas. - French
Non lo sappiamo. - Italian
No sabemos. - Spanish
Det vide vi ikke. - Danish

Nothing. Nada. Nulla. Rien. Nichts.

Mary and Joseph couldn't have given up! They must have asked:
Go now, make more sure, and investigate and see his place where his haunt is (where his feet have been), and who has seen him there! 1 Samuel 23:22
- Allez, je vous prie, prenez encore des informations pour savoir et découvrir dans quel lieu il a dirigé ses pas et qui l'y a vu. - French
- Geht hin, vergewissert euch noch mehr und erkundet und paßt auf, an welchem Ort sein Fuß war und wer ihn dort gesehen hat! - German
- Andate, vi prego, e accertatevi meglio per conoscere e vedere il luogo dove si rifugia, e chi lo ha visto là. - Italian
- Vayan y averigüen bien/más por dónde anda y quién lo ha visto. - Spanish

Some questioners were frustrated.
"(All of)you know/understand nothing at all." John 11:49
вы ничего не знаете. - Russian
I forstår ingenting. - Norwegian
Voi non capite nulla. - Italian
Vosotros no sabéis nada. - Spanish
Wala talaga kayong alam. - Tagalog
Vous n'y entendez rien. - French
Ihr wißt nichts. - German

"Nobody remembered ______." Eccesiastes 9:15

Mary and Joseph sought out every person that Jesus might have been in contact with during the previous days. They would ask questions to find other intermediaries:

"Where is your wife S___(female name)?" Genesis 18:9
Italian - Dov'è tua moglie S____?
German - Wo ist deine Frau S____?
French - Où est ta _____?
Tagalog - Nasaan ang asawa mong si S_____?
Portuguese - Onde está S____, a sua mulher?

When they found the person, they would again ask for leads.

They often heard:
I did not see...Jesus. (Some words from Rev 21:22)
Je ne vis pas...Jésus. - French

No one had seen Jesus in the returning caravan at all.
So any threat by Herod Antipas, tetrach in Galilee, was negligible.

So when was the last time people saw Jesus?
Didn't I see... (John 18:26)
N'ai-je pas vu.... - French

They thought. Some stalled. Some hesitated.
Then they became more definite in what they said.

Didn't I see him in Jerusalem?

Many... had seen what Jesus did... (John 11:45)
Beaucoup...avaient vu ce que Jésus avait fait.

Mary and Joseph double-checked and finally eliminated Jesus' whereabouts in the caravan.

Evening and Morning: Day 2 of Search
When JOSEPH AND MARY had done everything required...
they returned to ....
Re: Luke 2:39
French - Après avoir accompli tout ce que...(la situation)ordonnait,
MARIE ET JOSEPH retournèrent en...
Spanish - Después de haber cumplido con todo lo que exigía...(la situación) ,
José y María regresaron a...

Evening and morning: Day Three of Search
They backtracked and started another subsearch back to and within Jerusalem. They asked many more people. They questioned the people they saw in Jerusalem once every year as they came across them. Some of them would not have met young Jesus. They questioned many they did not know, but they were cautious. They had to be certain that no person of authority or a betrayer with horrible intentions would get the information.

Were the Romans threatened by the resistance factions and their son was involved?
Was Herod's son, Herod Archaleus, tetrach in Judea, also afraid of the Magi's new KING too? Was he afraid of the one who had been predicted by a star?

They tell me he is very crafty. (aka)
I am told that he is very cunning.
- 1 Samuel 23:22
Mи казаха, че бил много хитър. - Bulgarian
On m'a dit qu'il est très rusé. - French
Mir ist gesagt worden, daß er listig ist. - German
Yo di m' li malen anpil. - Haitian
Mi si dice che egli è molto astuto. - Italian
Folk har sagt mig at han er meget slu. - Norwegian
Me han dicho que él es muy astuto. - Spanish

They found Cuza/Chuza, manager in Herod's household. Could he be trusted?
So they asked him,
Where is your wife...Joanna? Where is your wife ref: Genesis 18:9 Joanna's ref: re: Luke 8:3
Italian - Dov'è tua moglie...Giovanna?
German - Wo ist deine Frau...Johanna?
French - Où est ta femme...Jeanne?
Tagalog - Nasaan ang asawa mong si...Joana?
Portuguese - Onde está...Joana, a sua mulher?

Joanna was where she was
for such a time as this ref: Esther 4:14
French - en vue de telles circonstances
Spanish - en esta situación; precisamente para un momento como éste

She was:
Joanna the wife of Cuza, manager of Herod's household
Italian - Giovanna, moglie di Cusa, amministratore del re Erode
Portuguese - Joana, esposa de Cuza, administrador da casa de Herodes

When Joseph and Mary found Joanna, Mary felt comfortable asking her about Jesus, Herod possibly holding him prisoner and other scenarios. Joanna had heard NOTHING.
A relief. She was asked to keep her ears open regarding any rumour and to let any of their common trusted friends pass on important information.

They probably did not post a "Jesus is missing" query on the public edict and announcement boards that were in Jerusalem unless it was quite general. The wrong people could also start looking for Jesus.

They may have posted a "Jesus is missing" query on a board near a lumber or nail seller or near one of a tool maker for carpentry tools in Jerusalem.

They may have posted or wanted to post a "Jesus is missing" query on a board in their local language in the private, priestly spaces of the temple, where any "authorities" would not have been welcome at any time. The priestly Levites made sure of that.

What contact information could have been on such a query?
Information could solicited to be left where Mary and Joseph would stay at night.
Information could be left with carpentry shops or those supplying carpenters, with instructions to send information from one carpenter to another one closer to a key carpenter destination. Information could be left with key people or Mary or Joseph themselves at key locations at key times.

Each poster would surely have been different.

How would Mary and Joseph describe their son?
Average looking? No particular marks? Active with eyes filled with curiosity? Just this tall. He has the speech of a Nazarene. - Not enough information for most people.

How would they describe his clothes?
That's hard. But a sample is worth a thousand words.
'He wore a tunic, made of homespun cloth from Nazareth like this, with a cord in this color and made in this manner-- just like this.'
Mary would have another set of clothes, ready for when Jesus' clothes were worn long enough.
She could also have made more cord in the same manner of what Jesus wore, cut it up as samples and left them as a reminder for key people.
'His sandals were made by the sandalmaker of Nazareth, just like this.'
Joseph could show them, since he wore sandals for men and boys similar in style and material from the maker. All items bore the mark of the maker and most were made with love!

If a boy was found with clothes like this, then there was a secret identifying mark!
(This had been one of the ways Anna and Simeon had identified the coming Messiah.)
Since the boy had been born when the "Star of the East" shone, he alone wore designs of...
his star in the east Matthew 2:2
French - son étoile en Orient
German - seinen Stern im Morgenland (land of the morning/rising sun)
Italian - la sua stella in Oriente
Spanish - su estrella en el oriente

How would they describe his traits?
'He is friendly and polite.
He is kind and helpful.
He is not vengeful.
He doesn't set anyone up.'

How would they describe Jesus' habits?
'He knows how to do fine carpentry work, but doesn't have all the tools.
He likes to read in the Scriptures.
He likes to explore Jerusalem.
He likes celebrations.
He likes visiting with relatives and friends.
He likes to do what other 'good' boys like doing.
He sometimes likes to go to the well and drink the cool water.
Sometimes he goes to the markets to watch what goes on, or to run an errand for our Jerusalem host.'

Their search would take them to many hangouts of their son.

The people everywhere
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child! similar re: Luke 2:17

Perhaps someone pointing to Anna, the prophetess, said:
"Do you see this woman?"(Words from Luke 7:44)
Tu vois cette femme? - French
'She may know were your son is.'

After 3 days...the 4th day of the Search...
When Jesus was 12, Anna was 94 years old (84+12).
She had not stated after the birth of Jesus like Simeon at Jesus' presentation at the temple, that her purpose in life was complete. She continued to talk to everyone who came to the temple and she took an interest in her protege, who came to see her each year at Passovertime with his parents.
If anyone knew where Jesus was, she would have known or at least would have had some good guesses!

Soon Mary and Joseph were searching in the temple compound. Joseph looked everywhere, but especially in the men's quarters. Mary did too, and especially asked around in the women's quarters.

At last, Mary and Joseph found Jesus. He was on the Father's business. When Joseph found Jesus,

He laughed and said to himself, "A prophet like me. (similar to Genesis 17:17; Acts 3:22)
French - Il rit, et dit en son coeur: Un prophète comme moi.
German - Im stillen lachte er in sich hinein. Er dachte: Ein Prophet wie ich.
Italian - Rise; e disse in cuor suo: Un profeta come me.
Spanish - Se rió, y dijo en su corazón: Un profeta como yo.

Her son was reading scripture with the men.

So MARY laughed to herself as she thought to herself, "He is of age. He is old enough." - similar to Gen 18:12; Luke 9 21 + 23
French - Elle rit en elle-même, en disant: Il est assez grand. Il a de l'âge.
German - Und MARIA lachte in ihrem Innern und sagte: Er ist mündig. Er ist alt genug.
Italian - Allora MARIA rise dentro di sé e disse: Ha l'età. Egli è o.
Spanish - Y se rió MARIA para sus adentros, pensando: Edad tiene. Es mayor de edad.

Jesus was with the teachers near where Anna's hangout was!

Before all of the questions
Joseph took him into his arms...and praised God. wording re: Luke 2:28

Jesus didn't seem to be aware that he would cause unease for those close to him. Didn't they know this? Didn't they know that? Had they not listened?

Oh, what were you thinking!?
French - Comment as-tu pu décider en toi-même de commettre une telle action ?
German - Wie konntest du nur so etwas tun!
Warum hast du denn solches (in deinem Herzen) vorgenommen?
Haitian - Ki jan ou fè mete nan tèt ou pou fè yon bagay konsa?
Italian - Come hai potuto fare una cosa simile?
Spanish - ¿Por qué se te ocurrió hacer esto?
¿Cómo se te ocurrió hacer esto?

Why were you searching for me? Luke 2:49
¿(Y) por qué me buscaban? - Spanish
Pourquoi me cherchiez-vous? - French
Warum habt ihr mich gesucht? - German

Didn't you know I had to be in____'s house? (You should have known that I would look after ____'s affairs/matters) Luke 2:49
¿No saben que tengo que estar donde (mi)_____. - Spanish
Ne saviez-vous pas qu'il faut que je m'occupe des affaires de _____? - French
Ihr hättet doch wissen müssen, daß ich dort sein muß, wo es um _____Sache geht. - German

Mary kept pondering once again and she treasured much in her heart.

Jesus could take care of himself.
He had learned the trade of carpenter.
He could discuss and teach well-trained s.
Jesus had attained status in his society.
That time had now come.

Yet, he did not ignore the needs of others to be independent. He listened to his parents and returned with them. They had to rethink their relationship and learned to think of him as an . Jesus found time for His Heavenly Father's business and did not neglect it even with his constraints.

When Mary and Joseph had talked with Jesus, they informed everybody as soon as they could and said:

Jesus lives! like Psalm 18:46 (or 47)
French - Jésus ...vit!
German - Jesus...lebt!
Italian - Gesù!
Spanish - Jesús!

He was lost and is found. Luke 15: 24 + 32
French - Il était perdu et il est retrouvé.
German - Er war verloren und ist gefunden worden.
Italian - Era perduto ed è stato ritrovato.
Spanish - Estaba perdido y ha sido hallado.

Exalted be God my Savior! Psalm 18:46 (or 47)
French - Que le Dieu de mon salut soit exalté!
German - Erhoben sei der Gott meines Heils!
Italian - Sia esaltato il Dio della mia salvezza!
Spanish - ¡Exaltado sea Dios mi Salvador!

Rejoice with me!

They thanked all those that helped when they saw them.
They asked them to thank the others they knew who had helped.

They asked their family, friends and neighbours for a celebration (meal) rejoicing like the woman who had lost her coin.

After many moons, when Mary and Joseph were comfortable they told Jesus (Strategic wording only from Ezekiel 16:8):
When I looked at you, I saw that you were old enough. (Your time had come(for hood).)
Je te regardai, et voici, ton temps était là. - French
Ich sah dich, und siehe, deine Zeit war da. - German
Yo te miré, y he aquí que tu tiempo. - Spanish
Ti vidi; ecco, era la tua età. - Italian

Thank you, Jesus, our brother, for open and hidden testimony about you in the Bible.

Lord we pray for continuing wisdom, especially in trust building for having wings and any initial "missing" searches. We thank you that there is a "flooding" technique of a neighbourhood with people when someone is missing. We thank you for all languages.
Protect people who are about to go against the "Father's business" by showing them why they should not do evil. Thank you for those that are doing the "Father's business". Help us all to obey and postpone, but only with cause, what we know is in your plan. Amen

Chinese test: honey - 蜜

Question: Who would have manned the missing person's agency in Jerusalem?
The person who comes to mind is Rachel in Ramah...and the other women of Bethlehem whose children were killed in the search of the "new King". When Jesus was missing at 12, and assuming a middling child-bearing age of 30, she would have been about 42.
Rachel "refused to be comforted" because her children "were no more". She was witness to the murder. It does not say that she ever overcame her grief. (Many comments on Rachel also find another level of meaning when Rachel stands for the women of Israel)

The women who did not see their children killed, but hauled off and never saw the dead bodies, would keep looking and looking. They would find each other, compare notes and methods and have a de facto "missing child" agency.

What name for a woman who overcame unending grief by helping others? What name for the one who overcame like Bathsheba did when Solomon comforted her. What name for the one who shouts at God: Heal me, O Lord, and I WILL be healed. Rescue me, and I WILL be rescued. YOU are the ONE I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)

What about calling her Ramah from Ramah?
What's her name? Doesn't matter to her.
Call her Ramah...the exalted one.
(Then Herod=type people would not easily find her where her real name is known too)
Looked up the meaning: Ramah=high, exalted
There are many Ramah places. One 5 miles north of Jerusalem, high (presumably near the high places of sacrifices, including child sacrifices)
A place to ascertain that stolen children would not be sacrificed.