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Why Have You Treated Us Like This?

Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.

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“Why have you treated us like this?" (Luke 2:48)

“He’s not safe but he’s good.”

Those famous words of C. S. Lewis refer to Aslan, the great lion in the classic story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I thought of this quote when I read Mary’s plaintive and somewhat disapproving question to Jesus. You remember the story, I’m sure. When Jesus was 12 years old, he went with Mary and Joseph to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. On the way home, thinking he was with them, they traveled a day before realizing he wasn’t in their group of pilgrims. After a three-day search in Jerusalem, they found the boy in the temple, talking with the teachers of the law. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. Flabbergasted would be more like it. And so Mary voiced the words of mothers everywhere to children who seem disobedient, “Why have you treated us like this?”

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To her it seemed like deliberate disobedience and an act of rudeness. That would be true if Jesus were just like other boys. But even though he was a boy through and through, he was not “just like” them.

So Mary and Joseph learned, in a very public fashion, what we all have to learn. Jesus is not predictable nor is he “safe,” if you mean that he always does what we want him to do. 

He is always with us, but we do not always experience his presence the same way.
He loves us unconditionally, but that love does not always spare us pain.
He came to serve us, but he does not guarantee our dreams will all come true.

Jesus is not safe but he is good. 

Unpredictable goodness may not be what we wanted when we signed up as disciples of Christ. One writer commented that “the dealings of the Lord Jesus with those who sincerely love and serve him are often very strange.” On the other hand, a God of our own making would be safe but he would not be good because any God we made would reflect our own weakness.

Jesus says to us what he said to his parents. He must be about his Father’s business even when we don’t understand what he is doing and even when the way he leads us brings us to tears. 

Keep on searching for him. If we search long enough, we will find him, but not exactly where we expected him. We will find him, and probably he will show up in ways that astonish us. 

If we doubt his goodness, let us look to the cross and remember what it cost him. He did not take the “safe way” that bloody day. 

Kneel at the cross where the Lion became a Lamb that we might be saved. 

Lord Jesus, how often we are tempted to doubt your goodness. Forgive us, O Lord. Grant us new confidence to believe that you know what you are doing even when we feel most lost and alone. Amen.

Going Deeper

In what ways have you experienced the “unpredictable goodness” of the Lord? 

Ponder these words from Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." What (if anything) are you seeking with all your heart right now? How might your life be different if you began to seek the Lord with all your heart?

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