Lost in Jerusalem

Enjoying the freedom of now being considered men within Jewish society, a group of young Galileans decide to go down to the market together and take in the sights in the early hours of the morning. They know their parents and family members aren’t planning on leaving until tomorrow, but they still want to get back before the crowds begin to cover the streets. Passover week has just ended and millions of pilgrims are still present in the great city of Jerusalem. In addition to avoiding the crowds, the young men are also hungry and looking forward to getting back and enjoying the breakfast their mothers’ are preparing. 

As they make their way back from the market they pass a street that leads to the massive temple built by Herod for the Jewish people. Suddenly one of the members of the group, a young man of twelve years old, slows downs and turns to look up the street and through the doorway into the temple. He pauses, sensing something stirring within his soul. His cousins and friends don’t even notice and continue on their way to the inn, but his eyes are intensely fixed on the temple. He was looking forward to breakfast as well, but he consciously makes a choice to follow another longing in his heart. He walks through the gates and into the outer courts, the crowds around him seem hushed in comparison to the voice that calls him in. He looks around at the people and hears the Torah being read by an elderly scribe. He remembers the lamb that he and his family brought to be slaughtered here, in this same temple, only days earlier. A vivid flashback of its throat being slit and the blood running down its body sends a shiver up his spine and causes his heart to race.

Meanwhile, back at the inn where his family members are staying, the older men are noticing the color of the morning sky. “It appears the storm in the north has lifted. Perhaps we can leave this morning as we had first planned.” The others agree. “We’ll gather our things and leave as soon as the young men come back from the market. They shouldn’t be long now.” The young men arrive back at the inn and are informed that the caravan is leaving for Nazareth. As they quickly pack their few belongings one of their aunts brings them a basket of bread and some dried figs.

Back at the temple, the twelve-year-old Galilean is intently listening to the reading of the Scriptures, it’s a portion from the prophet Isaiah speaking about the Servant of the Lord; 

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind…” 

The young man notices the crowds are growing and decides to head back to the inn. He leaves the temple and makes his way through the crowded streets. Arriving at the inn where his extended family had been staying he finds it empty. The innkeeper has already locked the door and is nowhere to be found. 
It’s now late in evening, having traveled all day, his mother realizes that she hasn’t seen her oldest. She’s never had to worry much about him, he’s always been responsible and obedient. She begins searching for him among their relatives and friends. But when she can’t find him, panic starts to rise within her. She nearly runs into her husband who has also been searching the caravan and hasn’t found him either. “We have to go back to the Holy City.” she urges. “Mary, you know we can’t travel at night. Let us pray for him and in morning we will return to the city. We will trust the Lord to protect him.” 
Early in the morning, Joseph and Mary leave their younger children in the protection of the caravan and head back to Jerusalem. Without any children slowing them down, they arrive in the late afternoon and begin searching the city. One night passes, and still, there is no sign of their son. They ask everyone they can think of, the innkeeper, the neighbors who live nearby, the vendors in the marketplace, yet no one has seen him. Another night passes, they don’t know where else to look. They both have a growing fear that something horrible has happened to him. There were so many people in the city, beggars, thieves, Roman soldiers, people from all over the world. He could have been kidnapped and taken anywhere, they think to themselves, neither wanting to say it out loud. Joseph, seeing the anguish in his wife’s face, says to her, “Let’s go to the temple and ask the priest to pray for us, that the Lord would help us to find him.” Mary readily agrees and the couple makes their way to the temple.  
Entering into the outer courts they see a group of teachers and scribes huddled together. They seem to be listening to someone of great interest. “Let’s ask them to pray for our son!” says Mary and together they approach the group. As they get closer they are surprised to hear the voice of a younger man, a familiar voice. They walk even closer and look through the teachers to see no other than their son. They are so astonished that for a moment they can’t even move. For the scribes have begun asking him questions and they seem amazed at his answers.

Mary runs towards her son. She wants to throw her arms around him, but at the same time, she feels embarrassed and upset by the whole situation. “Son,” she says, stopping just before him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I” she says looking back at Joseph, “have been frantic, searching everywhere for you.” The twelve-year-old looks up at his mother, with a gentle smile and yet with boldness in his eyes and says “But why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I would have to be getting involved in” he pauses for a second and looks towards the heavens, “in my Father’s work?” Mary and Joseph exchange a confused glance and stand there, unable to respond. Then the 12-year-old, Jesus, gets up and embraces his mother and his earthly father, Joseph. Together they make their way out of the city and begin the journey back to their home in Nazareth. Mary will never forget this day, it has been marked on her heart and will remain there even as her son matures and grows; continually seeking His Father’s will above all else.

(Adapted from Luke 2:40-52)


To say that the story of Beauty and the Beast has been around for a long time is somewhat of an understatement. Though variations of the story weren’t published in book form until the 18th century, researchers believe that some elements of this widespread fairytale are at least 4000 years old.

So what’s this story all about and why has it endured to our day? Many details and plot twists have been added and changed over the years, both in literature and in film, and this muddies the water a little in trying to get to the heart of the tale. For instance, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, in her 1756 version, seems to add her own moralistic twist to the story to make it about what young women should look for in a husband. In this version, after Belle leaves Beast and returns to her father, she has the following thoughts rush through her mind after a bad dream in the middle of the night:

“Is it his fault if he is so ugly, and has so little sense? He is kind and good, and that is sufficient. Why did I refuse to marry him? I should be happier with the monster than my sisters are with their husbands; it is neither wit, nor a fine person, in a husband, that makes a woman happy, but virtue, sweetness of temper, and complaisance, and Beast has all these valuable qualifications. It is true, I do not feel the tenderness of affection for him, but I find I have the highest gratitude, esteem, and friendship; I will not make him miserable, were I to be so ungrateful I should never forgive myself.” (Yes, Belle has two sisters and also three brothers in these earlier versions).

This moral lesson about choosing a virtuous husband appears to be a twist added by Beaumont and not a part of the core story (in fact, in some ways it is actually contradictory). The much lengthier version by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, published in 1740, undoubtedly added many new features to the fairytale as well, and if you’re up for wading through it you’ll see the clear influence of 18th-century French society. More modern versions have naturally incorporated their own elements, and for the sake of time, I won’t get into the recent controversy regarding the character of Lefou in the 2017 Disney film. Plenty of others have written about that.  Besides, Lefou and Gaston don’t appear as characters until the 1991 Disney animated version and are therefore secondary to the main purpose of this article. By the way, in earlier versions Belle’s two envious and arrogant sisters, not Gaston, are the primary villains. In the end, they are cursed and turned into statues which stand in front of the palace. Nice.

So putting all the peripheral details aside, what’s at the heart of this story? In short, Beauty and the Beast is about a brave young peasant who through love and sacrifice brings redemption and new life to those who are in danger and under a curse. This is seen in part when Belle willingly substitutes her life in order to save her father, though she personally has done nothing wrong or deserving of death. However, it is most vividly displayed in the relationship between Belle and the Beast. Due to his own pride and selfishness, the man who was once a prince has lost his humanity and has become a hideous and foolish brute. It is only through the true love of the humble and selfless Belle that the curse is broken and the prince’s humanity is restored. That is the heart of Beauty and the Beast which truly makes it a ‘tale as old as time’ because it is a faint picture of an even greater story.

It is a true story of people who were created to live as members of the royal family, as princes and princesses, under the good reign and rule of the greatest King the world has ever known. Yet through their selfishness and pride, they brought a curse on themselves and on the entire kingdom, all of creation. This is our story. We were made as humans to show the beauty, love, and splendor of our Creator and to enjoy unending happiness with Him. That’s what Scripture is getting at when it says we were created in His image and likeness. To be human, in the fullest sense, is to image God. Sadly, we all miserably fail at imaging God. Indeed, His image within us has been broken and marred because of sin, and like Beast, living under the curse, none of us experiences what it means to be fully human. It is only through the loving sacrifice of a humble, selfless, and brave young peasant, that our full humanity can be restored. This is what Jesus has done to rescue us from the curse of sin and death and it is only through his sacrifice that we can be restored and experience new life.

Jesus is the only man who lived his entire life as a perfect human, we could say that he shows us what it means to be human in the fullest sense. As we trust in Christ we are being remade into his image. In other words, we are becoming fully human again. This is why Paul calls Jesus the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29), it is only in and through Him that we become a part of a restored humanity. Though we rebelled and became marred by the ugliness of sin, in love, Jesus brings us back to the Father, making us sons in the royal family once again. This is true even now for those who have trusted in Jesus. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation already (2 Corinthians 5:17). However, we still wait for that future day of full restoration. Notice how John the apostle puts it:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

1 John 3:1-3 ESV

So why has the story of Beauty and the Beast endured? I suspect that deep within our hearts something about it resonates with our sense of what is true. Our natural tendency may be to think of ourselves as Belle, but if we are honest we’ll come to grips with the reality of our beastly selfishness and pride. Like the Beast, we are incapable of lifting the curse and our time is running out. Thanks be to God for our loving and humble King Jesus, who is more than able to set us free from our condemnation and restore our full humanity.


You can profess belief in Jesus. You can even have great theology, but the test of that belief, according to Scripture, is love for the brethren (your spiritual family). The way that this gets worked out in the New Testament is in the context of the local church. You can’t practice the “one another” commands of the Bible when living in isolation or separated from accountable commitment to a local family of believers. 


To say that you don’t need to be committed to a local church in order to live the Christian life is arrogance.

To say that the local church doesn’t need your commitment is hatred to your brothers and sisters.

To dismiss the church is to dismiss that for which Christ died.

Can you really say you love someone and at the same time ignore or abandon the very thing that they love most? Jesus loves His church with an everlasting love.