“Where is he?”
“I thought he was with you.”
“He was. I was holding his hand, but now.” Tears filled the young mother’s eyes. “What if he’s been taken by bandits? What if he’s hurt?”
“Don’t worry. We’ll find him.”
“Joseph.” She laid her hand on his arm. “What if we don’t? What if it’s his time?”
His heart ached at the thought. “We’ll find him. I promise you.” He gently kissed her forehead. “Come. Let’s first search amongst our caravan. If he is not with them, we’ll return to the city. We’ll search all day and all night. And we will find him.”
“I haven’t seen him. I’m sure he’s with Ezechiel. You know how close those two are.”
“I saw him stop over by Old Judith’s well to drink some water. It isn’t likely he’s still there…”
“I saw him walk amongst the sheep, back there.”
“He found my lost sheep, but that was shortly after we left the city.”
And so the day went on. Joseph and his wife followed every lead, no matter how unlikely. The day came to an end as all days do – in darkness and cool night air. Yet, they kept searching.
All through the night.
Day came, but he was not found.
Joseph could see the weariness on his wife’s lovely face. “We should rest a while.”
She shook her head. “I will rest when I find him.”
“I will wait until then as well.”
They spent that whole day following more leads. Each one led them closer and closer to the city.
Night fell again.
Neither one gave up hope.
“We will see him again.” she said and he knew that she believed it. “If God should so will.”
“Let us pray then that God will guide our steps.”
They prayed all night long.
Morning came with new leads.
Joseph and his wife followed the leads back into the city.
Joseph went up to a rug merchant. “Excuse me, but have you seen a young boy? He’s twelve years old and about so high?”
“Many, many people walk past me. Some boys. Some girls. Some from around here. Some from far out of town.” He smiled a seedy smile at them. “But if you are looking for one particular boy, well. You will have to pay. Buy a rug. You won’t regret it. My rugs are the best of the best.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“What? Why would you come to this city without any money? That’s bad planning.”
She stepped forward and knelt before him. “My son is lost. He is my only son. Please. If you know anything…If you’ve seen him, please tell me.”
His expression softened. “Of course. Of course. As long as next time you come to this fair city, you bring extra money to buy a rug from me.”
Joseph wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders. “We will. Please. Where can we find him?”
“Hmm, twelve year old boy about so high…Doesn’t give me much to go on.”
“He looks more like her than he does me.”
“Ah-ha! I think I know just the boy you’re seeking. Go to the temple. There’s a boy in there talking to the priests about—” He shrugged. “—I don’t know. Priest stuff. Everyone’s been talking about him all morning.”
Joseph and his wife forgot their weariness and hunger and ran to the temple.
There he was.
He stood before the chief priests, speaking.
They sat in solemn silence, listening and wondering at his words.
His mother ran to him and hugged him tight. “My son! Why did you not stay with us? Your father and I have searched for you for three days, sorrowing.”
He looked up at her with eyes so like her own, but filled with clarity unlike any other. “Why did you search for me, sorrowing? Did you not know I’d be here? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Joseph quietly marveled at this boy and his extraordinary words. He stepped forward and said, “Come. Let’s go home.”
And the boy left the temple with his parents.