Luke records three trips to Jerusalem made by Mary and Joseph in the second chapter of his Gospel. During the first trip, Jesus was born and presented before the Lord, being the first male child of Mary who opened her womb. While Mary and Joseph were in the Temple performing the duties of the Law, they marveled at the words of prophecy spoken by Simeon and Anna. Jesus’ parents learned about their Son, while they obeyed the commands of the Law.
The second trip recorded by Luke was one Mary and Joseph had taken annually in order to keep the holy Passover season. This particular year, cir. 10 CE, They brought Jesus along to celebrate Passover at Jerusalem, which may imply that previously he may have been left with the extended family or close friends in Nazareth. Jesus was in his twelfth year. When they fulfilled the days of the Passover festival at Jerusalem according to the Law, they left with a large company of pilgrims to return home to Nazareth. Traveling with such a company would lend protection to each individual family as well as provide entertainment as different families shared their experiences during the Holy Day festival. Assuming Jesus was with friends or relatives traveling with them, Joseph and Mary didn’t miss Jesus right away. Nevertheless, Jesus “tarried at Jerusalem.” After a night without him, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus was not with the party of pilgrims, and they returned to Jerusalem for the third time in chapter two of Luke. It was during this third trip to Jerusalem, that they searched sorrowing for three days, before they found Jesus in the Temple. For their first two trips to Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary came to serve the demands of the Law, which was their schoolmaster to bring them to Jesus (Galatians 3:24). However, their third journey was not to serve the Law, but to seek Jesus. They found him about his Father’s business.
When I was a young man, I was involved in a very legalistic church. Nevertheless, I thank God for the time that I spent in that environment, because now I realize that God meant it for good. I learned a great deal about the Law and how celebrating the Old Covenant Holy Days reveal my Savior, Jesus Christ. There are many beautiful pictures of Jesus hidden in the Old Testament, and seeing him and his works in the seven annual Holy Days is truly a marvelous wonder.
Today, I look upon that church as a kind of schoolmaster that helped me to come to know Jesus in a very simple but unique way, considering how many of my present friends at church have come to know him. There were a lot of things that were wrong with my earlier environment, but God is not hindered by legalism. He has a way of bringing light out of darkness (2Corinthians 4:6; Romans 8:28) and life out of death. The experiences that God has given me in that environment have revealed to me a vision of Christ in the Old Testament that I have not found in any of the churches where I have worshiped afterwards. This is not to say that my experiences are better than that of anyone else, but they are different. When we all share together what God has done for us, we are blessed in the diverse manner in which God has been able to draw each one of us to find Jesus. I praise him for his grace.