Mistakes People Make on Discovering Their Loss
The first mistake appears in the sentence where “they… went a day’s journey” without Him. They were separated from Him, did not see Him, and yet pushed on a whole day’s journey. It is what many are doing today. They lose Christ and go on their way. Here is the first mistake, and it not infrequently ends fatally. The thing to do when we miss the Savior is to stop everything until we find Him. Let no one think it a loss of time, for when He is in the heart you can speak, write, work and live a thousand times more effectively.
A second mistake comes out in the words, “they [supposed] him to have been in the company.” What if He was?—He was not with them. A man to be happy must have Christ in his heart as a conscious, personal possession. It is and should be a poor comfort to one to feel that Christ is in the congregation or household but not in oneself. There is neither joy nor salvation in this fact. Some husbands shelter themselves with the thought that their wives are religious, but a child could tell them that this alone will never save them. Some children seek a strange consolation in lives of sin with the reflection that their fathers and mothers are prominent in the church and preeminent for piety. But this will never save them, and if they do not repent and possess Christ themselves they are as certainly damned as the ungodly sons of the godly Eli were overthrown by the Divine judgments and lost forever.
A third mistake is seen in the sentence, “they sought him among their kinsfolk.” This is what Joseph and Mary did, and the result was that they did not find Him. Doubtless they were much shocked. And I doubt not if you did the same thing you would also be shocked. My brother, suppose you try it, and tonight when you go home ask your wife if Christ is dwelling in her heart. And my sister, do you ask your husband a like question, and I tell you now that many of you will be astonished and made to mourn.
When I commenced seeking religion as a young man, I was living in a country filled with ungodliness. There was no man I could talk with. A lady relative of about fifty was in the neighborhood. I knew she belonged to the Episcopal Church and saw her reading her Prayer Book on Sunday. In my great agony of soul seeking light and the Savior, I went to her and asked her if she could direct me to Christ. I had thought she knew Him and had Him in her life, when to my amazement, she told me with a troubled voice and face that she did not have Christ; that she did a long time ago, twenty years before, but she had lost Him. I turned from her with a groan. I wanted a person who had seen Christ lately, and lo, she had not looked upon Him for twenty years.
Like Joseph, I sought Jesus among my kinsfolk and He was not there. You think that because your husband or wife are on the church roll that they are all right. You suppose because your son sings in the choir, and your daughter teaches a Sunday-school class that they are safe and religious. Do you ask them the plain question if they love Christ, and their answer may trouble you.
A fourth mistake is seen committed by the caravan or large company with whom Joseph and Mary were traveling. Although Christ had been left behind, they never turned back! Jesus was missing, but they went on. I can see the long winding line as they threaded the ravines and pushed across the plain. They camp that night without Jesus, and next morning start out again without Jesus, and so pass away out of Judea and Galilee into the great world beyond and Jesus has been left behind.
With the deepest compassion I see the crowds of this world doing the same thing! They toil and travel all day without Christ; they go home and get rest without Him, and push on the next day, and the next, and the next—and always without Jesus. They have music, papers, books, pleasures, travel, and business, but they do not have Jesus. They do not seem to realize the dreadfulness of their loss, and so push on with life’s caravan, talking, laughing, singing, loving, hating, camping, sleeping, arising again, pushing further and further until we see them go out from us, and beyond the horizon of our lives and disappear from our view forever. How we feel like calling them to come back; telling them that they can never meet the dangers, nor stand the toils, nor live right, nor die victoriously without Jesus. And we do call to them; but few seem to turn back. The great mass push on without the Savior whom they have left far behind forever.