What was Jesus like as a child?” Mary smiled. “It was easy to forget that he was the Son of God. He was just a kid, but a kid that didn’t seem to get in trouble. Which really annoyed his brothers and sister. I had to be so careful not to compare them with their older brother.”
“Everybody liked Jesus, he was kind and considerate to the other kids, and never gave us any grief, well almost never.
“We made it a habit to take the children to Jerusalem each year for Passover, we would stay with Elizabeth and Zachariah, the kids would have the opportunity to play with John and we were able to enjoy the celebrations as family members of one of the priests.
“It was the year that Jesus turned twelve. A group of us had travelled together to the city and after the celebrations were finished, we all got ready to head back to Nazareth. Because of his age, Jesus had the option of travelling with Joseph and the men or with me and his brothers and sisters. It wasn’t decreed anywhere that men and women should travel in their separate groups, it was just something that happened. And normally it wasn’t a problem, this time it was. When we left Jerusalem Jesus wasn’t with me, so I assumed that he was with his father.
“The men’s group travelled faster than we did, and at the end of the first day they had already started setting up camp when we arrived. Jude went looking for his older brother. You met Jude when you were in Nazareth. When they were little, Jude was like Jesus’ shadow, he wanted to do everything his big brother did and he was so disappointed that Jesus had decided to travel with men and older boys.
“It wasn’t very long and Jude came flying back to tell me that he couldn’t find Jesus, his father said he thought that Jesus had decided to travel back with us.
After checking with everyone in the camp it was decided that the other children would continue on to Nazareth with the rest of the group and Joseph and I would go back to Jerusalem and find Jesus. I was worried sick.
“The next morning, I kissed the other three good bye and told them to behave for their grandparents, and Joseph and I headed back the way we had just come. Other than the occasional ‘I’m sure he’s fine”, the trip was pretty quiet. In my mind I bounced between ‘I’m sure everything will be all right’ to ‘I’m going to kill him, what was he thinking?’
“Our first stop in Jerusalem was at Zechariah and Elizabeth’s, but they didn’t have a clue. They thought Jesus had left with the rest of us, and nobody could remember seeing him since breakfast.
“We looked everywhere. We went to the homes of all our friends and family members. No Jesus. We scoured the market place, no Jesus.
“Joseph even spoke to a Roman soldier, but he hadn’t heard any reports of a child being found.
“Finally, after searching everywhere we could possibly imagine he might be, Zechariah suggested that we go to the temple and offer a sacrifice and pray for Jesus’ safe return. I had been praying constantly since we discovered that he was missing, but maybe an offering wouldn’t be a bad idea.
“As we made our way to the temple gates, I was exhausted. There was nowhere else to look. My mind kept taking me to the worst possible scenarios, and I knew that we couldn’t stay in Jerusalem forever. Joseph had a business, and I had the other children to worry about.
Zechariah led us into the temple and introduced us to another priest. When we told him what had happened and why we were there, he simply said ‘Perhaps you should come with me.’
Expecting the worst, we followed him into a side room, and there he was! Jesus was sitting in a circle with some of the younger teachers of the law. They were so engaged in their conversation that it was a couple of minutes before they realized they had an audience.
“Mom, I’ve been waiting for you to come back for me.’
‘I would have thought this would have been the first place you would have come.’
Seriously, I didn’t know whether to hug him or choke him.
‘Excuse me, is this your boy?’
“I turned to see an older man,” ‘He is marvelous, the questions he asks and the insights he has.
‘My name is Nicodemus and Jesus has been staying with my wife and I. I found him here in the temple, when we heard that he had lost you, we opened our home, but he assured us that you’d be back.’
“I didn’t know what to say, I stammered out a thank you and Joseph offered to pay whatever we owed.”
‘No, please, it was our pleasure. He is such a well-mannered boy that it was no problem at all. And now that he’s found you, or you’ve found him, whatever the case may be, all it well. Perhaps someday, we’ll have the chance to share thoughts again.’
“And with that he nodded and walked away. We were furious, but truth be told that was the only time that Jesus gave us problems.”
We sat in front of the fire for a few more minutes before Mary stood and excused herself. As she walked away, I thought; Nicodemus? What are the chances?