Have you ever made a spiritual assumption and been wrong?
Recently, I’ve been studying a particular passage in Luke that has challenged me on several levels. It states:
Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:41-26)
The earthly parents of the Messiah left Jerusalem without Jesus in their midst and they were totally unaware. How could this have happened? The word “unaware” implies a lack of intimate knowledge. It tells us that somewhere along the line Mary and Joseph took their eyes off of Jesus and placed their attention on something other than Him. Have you ever taken your eyes off of Jesus? The writer of Hebrews emphatically states: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). Allowing our eyes to be diverted from Christ puts us at risk of moving outside of His presence.
I realize that some people may retort that Jesus will never leave us, yet I’m referring to the manifest presence of Jesus in our lives. While His omnipresence is everywhere, the supernatural anointing of His manifest presence can lift from a believer, a church, or a pastor. Using this story in Luke as an illustration, we can continue in our activities unaware that the anointing, His manifest presence, is no longer with us.
Returning to the question, how could Mary and Joseph leave without Jesus in their midst? My answer is familiarity! Familiarity can breed a spiritual paradigm that makes us comfortable with the patterns of Jesus that if we’re not careful diminish anticipation for anything “out of the ordinary” from Him. Think about this: Mary and Joseph journeyed to Jerusalem for twelve years to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. For twelve years, Jesus went with and returned with them. This became their paradigm. This became the “custom” (see Luke 2:43); their spiritual pattern, and after twelve years of doing the same thing they didn’t anticipate that Jesus would do anything different.
I wonder if we are any different. Have we become so comfortable with our Sunday gatherings that we don’t anticipate Jesus doing something different? What about our revivals, camp meetings, or conferences? Sometimes a familiarity with these kinds of events can overshadow our expectations that Jesus might move in a completely different manner. Most revivals of the past have ended because the recipients of the original move of God became accustomed to how the Spirit moved. So when the Spirit moved in a different manner, they rejected the Spirit’s outpouring. I’m broken by how many churches simply “journey on” in the absence of His presence, yet they fulfill their customs of familiarity.
Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem on this particular occasion and Mary and Joseph missed the “new move” of the Spirit. Their lack of awareness led them to make a spiritual assumption: they “supposed Him to be in the caravan” (Luke 2:44). I don’t want to make spiritual assumptions; as they are proof of a lack of intimacy and the height of spiritual arrogance. Samson made the spiritual assumption that he could break free from fetters as in other times, and the assumption cost him his eyes (Judges 16:20). King Saul made a spiritual assumption that he should make an unlawful sacrifice and he lost his anointing (1 Sam. 15:26). We cannot effectively serve God by “supposing” that His manifest presence is with us. We must live with our ears inclined toward the Lord (see Isa. 55:3). Life is in His voice. Let’s learn to move only at His impulse. Jesus modeled for us a life that was led, every moment watching the Father (see John 5:19), let’s live the same way.
Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus among their relatives and acquaintances but to no avail. They retraced their steps and their search led them back to the temple, where they found Him. That is a good reminder for us. Jesus told a busy church to return to their first love (see Rev. 2:4). If you’ve not sensed His manifest presence in your life, return to the place where you “lost” His weighty presence. I would suggest that we return in brokenness and repentance and fall in love with Him once again.
This story in Luke is a reminder of living in intimacy. It speaks to me about knowing and living in the Father’s business. In fact, His business is much more important than my business. This story challenges me to adjust my life to Jesus rather than the other way around. It convicts me about my tendency of placing a paradigm above the sovereign moves of the Spirit; I must remain a novice when it comes to Jesus and the way He chooses to move. I don’t want to assume anything. Years ago, we use to sing a song that said, “Every move I make I make in Him.” I want that to be true in your life and mine. I want to walk in step with Jesus every moment of every day. It certainly is possible (see Gal. 5:25).
Let’s not let a day to go by where we are unaware of His presence.
Jesus, if I’m moving ahead of you please let me know and if I’m lagging behind please convict my heart. I don’t want to live unaware of your presence in my life. Help me to remain at your feet, amen.