Monday, January 5, 2009

God as Man

Second Sunday in Christmas
Luke 2:40-52
Bror Erickson

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

It struck me odd, this response from Jesus. Not our Father’s house, but my Father’s house. Evidently it struck Mary and Joseph as odd also. Some how I get the impression they sort of shrugged it off with a puzzled look, and asked Jesus to come with them, relieved after three days to have seen him.
One wonders how this happened, how a 12 year old goes missing, and the parents leave town before they find him. But then a twelve year old in 1st century Israel was on the cusp of manhood and would be taking on those responsibilities soon. At thirteen he would be free to make choices for himself. We stave that off until 18, hoping that will foster a little more maturity before they head out on their own. But I’m not sure that works so well. I think staving off adulthood till 18 has the effect of staving off maturity, at least it often does. But in any case Jesus was almost a man. He was going through something akin to our confirmation. And this was the Passover.
Some of you have had the pleasure of walking the ancient streets of Jerusalem and climbing the hill they call Mt. Zion. I made the mistake once of entering the city on a Sabbath. I had never seen such a crowd. Not at Oktoberfest, not at any county fair, or amusement park, Ozzy Osbourne concert, or Papal Blessing in St. Peter’s Square. There is only foot traffic in Jerusalem proper, the Old City. But the crowds would literally carry you along as if you were swept up in the currents of the Missouri River. There was not turning around, there was no stopping to see which way you wanted to go. Once you entered the throng, your hands went in your pocket grabbing on to your wallet, and you went wherever the crowd went. I imagine that as all the Jews the world round converged on Jerusalem, as was the custom for Passover, the city was even more packed and full of life. And Jesus was a young man, who had friends and relatives to go see. So after the meal the Roasted Lamb was finished it would not be that unremarkable that Jesus wouldn’t be seen for a day or two, and have the plans that the family would be heading back to Nazareth, and will see you on the way.
Kind of like when I was about that age and would go out with my friends return home around dinner to find a note saying were at the game, make yourself a hamburger and check in with us. That sort of thing stopped when we moved to California, but it is easy for me to see how this could happen. But somewhere along the way Jesus fell in with a couple rabbis and began discussing theology. And theological discussions can last a few days. I imagine Jesus walking home with an old rabbi having dinner at his house, sleeping on a couch, staying up and discussing theology over a couple glasses of wine, and returning with a hopeful rabbi in the morning to the temple to discuss theology with other rabbis, all hoping to have Jesus as their star student. Then in the midst of all the clamor, the amazement over his answers and the praise that comes with it, Mary and Joseph finally find their son in the temple.
It’s funny to me. They don’t expect to find him there. I suppose most parents don’t expect to find their teenage sons in Church after an ordeal like Mary and Josephs. Hanging out with friends playing X-box maybe. But Jesus is just as baffled that his parents didn’t know to look for him there. We see a human side to Mary and Joseph. After twelve years of raising Jesus they know him to be a boy like the others. The angelic announcements of his virgin birth, the visit of the Magi, all that has become a distant memory. It says at the end of the text “and he increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” You would expect God to know everything. How does one who knows everything increase in wisdom? But when the Son became man for us men and our salvation, he let go of his divine attributes and became so much like one of us except without sin that even his own mother who gave birth to him as a virgin had forgotten to see Jesus as unique. That is he had become fully man.
But then Jesus makes that remark to remind them who he really is. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House? My Father’s house, He is in the Temple. He is referring to God. This was not a very common expression for God, at least not in the Old Testament. There are a few occasions in the Psalms where God is referred to as Father, God says he will be a Father to David’s Son who will build the Temple. Of course everyone thought he was talking about Solomon. But though Nathan’s prophecy found fulfillment in Solomon, who built the temple, it found its true fulfillment in Jesus who now sits in this Temple and says of God, “My Father.” Jesus knew who his Father is. He knows who he is. He is God. This is in effect what he was saying here. Perhaps the Rabbi’s missed it, or chose not to hear what their star pupil had just said, “My Father, in reference to God.” Chocked it up to imprecise language of a Twelve year old, who could not be expected to know all the rules to the theological discussion. My Father.
We call God Father all the time. Jesus commands us to, “Our Father who art in heaven.” But we never refer to him as my Father. That would imply that he is not also your Father. Or at the very least to imply that you had a special relationship to the Father that others did not. When we pray the “Our Father” we recognize as siblings the Holy Apostolic Christian Church on Earth, all who call on the name of Christ as their Lord and savior, all the sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd no matter where they are, down the street in Salt Lake, across the pond in Sweden, India, China, or our brothers and sisters in the Sudan who mourn the loss of their most dynamic Bishop Elisa (a Man who started a Lutheran Church of 15,000 less then a decade ago with a Book of Concord and 5 Small Catechisms given him by The Lutheran Heritage Foundation, and that amidst war, famine and systematic persecution from an Islamic government.) But Jesus he doesn’t say “Our Father’s House. He says My Father’s house. He baffles his parent’s saying it like that, further proof to how rare a reference to God it was.
But he says my Father, because God is His Father in a very special way. For Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, begotten not made, nor adopted one might add. Monogeneus is how it is put in John 1:14 in the Greek. Only begotten. It is a special relation ship, the same one we have with our father’s who begot us. Man begets man. Rabbits beget rabbits. But God begets God, and the Father begot His Son, who now sits as one of us in the temple, Jesus the Christ, who died for you and me, not only as man, but also as the Son of the Father, as God. So that by his divine blood shed for you and I, we might have adoption as Son, and cry out Abba Father, and recognize our siblings in all who hallow the name of God, praying “Our Father who art in heaven” As the only begotten Son of God taught us to pray.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

steve martin said...

Nice job, Bror.

Thanks to Christ Jesus, God is our Father. We get all the benefits of being adopted into THE FAMILY without any of the cost.

Such a deal!