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Where do you look for Jesus?

By Trevor Amicone

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Oct. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

When Jesus was 12 years old, he went with his family to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. On the way home, Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with their group. They went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days of searching, they found Jesus teaching the wise men in the temple. Mary asked him why he had stayed behind and made them worry. Jesus explained that he was doing the work of his Father in Heaven.

Grant Romney Clawson, LDS Church

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When Jesus Christ turned 12 years old, his parents traveled to Jerusalem to attend to the custom of the Passover feast. After the family was done celebrating and worshipping, they began their return journey home.

Meanwhile, the Savior stayed behind in Jerusalem unbeknownst to Joseph and Mary. Somewhere along their journey home, they realized that their son — the Son of God — was not with them. I couldn’t imagine the feelings and thoughts they must have been experiencing.

There were no cellphones and no Internet. (I know, how did we ever survive?) What if they lost him, never to find him again? What if something had happened to him? Someone had taken him? Someone had hurt him? Even though none of them were recorded, the worries must have been endless.

It took them three days to find Jesus and when they did, he was in the temple, preaching and teaching some of the smartest holy men in Jerusalem.

Mary said to him, “why hast thou thus dealt with us?” (Luke 2:48). It’s easy to see the flustered and probably frustrated yet patient mother asking her son, who also happens to be her Savior, “why did you stay behind and cause us so much worry?”

He responded by asking, “How is it that ye sought me? (Knew) ye not that that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). In other words, he was asking, “where did you look for me? Didn’t you know that you could find me in the temple, doing my Father’s work?”

It took Joseph and Mary three days to find Jesus. I often wonder where they looked for their son. How many different places did they look for Jesus before they had the idea to go to the temple?

This story forces us to ask some honest questions of ourselves: Where do we look for Jesus? Where do we look for salvation — something that only he offers? Where do we look for the other things that only he offers ultimately — peace, forgiveness, strength?

One misconception about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that he gives us a bunch of rules that we are required to obey in order to gain salvation. This is obviously not the case.

Timothy Keller said in his book, “The Reason for God” that “freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones.”

Keller adds that “a fish is only free in water.”

With the proper restrictions in place to set us free, the Lord gave us the first of these freeing commandments. Keller goes on to explain that of the original Ten Commandments written by the hand of the Savior, the first is to “have no other gods before” him.

By that definition, we learn that sin comes down to putting our happiness in the hands of anybody or anything other than God. Keller says, “the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.”

In essence, where we look for God is our ultimate test. Do we look for him in academia, the glory of the workplace, popularity and fame, sports teams or other worldly pursuits? Or do we look for him where his representatives tell us we should look — in the temple, at church, in the scriptures, through prayer and priesthood leaders?

Central to our earthly existence is the need that we, as human beings, have to have worth.

As I grew up, I worked for everything that I gained. My father knew many people in high places, so when I reached any level of success there were always doubters, “haters” as they’re called now. When I got a job, it was deemed nepotism. The phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” always came up when my personal success was discussed.

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