Monday, January 4, 2010

Second Sunday in Christmas

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

[40] And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
[41] Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. [42] And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. [43] And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, [44] but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, [45] and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. [46] After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. [47] And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. [48] And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." [49] And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" [50] And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. [51] And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
[52] And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:40-52 (ESV)

“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them, and he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

I find it somewhat amazing. “And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. Jesus is twelve. Every year, three times a year, Mary and Joseph would bring Jesus to Jerusalem, to His Father’s house, to honor the feasts required by the laws of Moses. This time Jesus being twelve He was on the verge of manhood in that society. Hard for us to believe today. We can’t imagine leaving a city without our child at twelve years old. But that is what happens. Joseph and Mary trust that Jesus is with his cousins or friends from Nazareth, and will be in the party returning. They don’t wait to search out Jerusalem, they leave expecting to catch up with Jesus later. They soon figure out that Jesus isn’t with them. An uneasy feeling turns to panic. They turn Jerusalem upside down looking for Jesus. Where could he be?
One imagines that they hear about some boy in the temple, entertaining the rabbis with his wisdom. Could it be? And this is actually quite astounding. This would be like finding your twelve year old son, not only auditing a college philosophy course, but teaching it. But Jesus doesn’t think His parents should be surprised to find Him there. And if you are like me you kind of wonder why they are. He is the Christ is He not?
We don’t have very many stories concerning Jesus’ youth. In fact this is about it. It seems that after a miraculous conception and birth, Jesus had an extraordinarily normal child hood. It seems it was so ordinary that Mary and Joseph began to doubt the events of a decade ago. The Gnostics writing later, trying to fabricate a more likeable Jesus would tell stories of Jesus bringing dead pigeons to life, fixing Joseph’s mistakes in the carpentry shop. Of course, then John would be wrong about his first miracle, or the first of his signs being in Cana making wine for a wedding. No it seems Jesus had a very ordinary childhood, so ordinary that Mary and Joseph seem to have forgotten the past, and have begun to doubt it. They don’t quite understand what Jesus is saying. Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?
This wouldn’t be the last time Mary seems to doubt her Son. In the seventh chapter of Mark, her and Jesus’ brothers seem to think He has lost it a bit. They come to collect him, just as He starts his ministry. One wonders why? Why Mary begins to doubt, why Joseph begins to doubt? Why she begins to lose faith in her son, so that she does not understand what He says here. Perhaps it was that nothing seemed to work out as if God was in the house with them. Here Mary is most blessed among women. She gives birth to God. And yet what is her life? She flees to Egypt becoming a refugee. She has to return to her home town. Rumors fly about her. Jesus grows up in one of those humble homes. You know the type. The type of home where there is never quite enough money, but perhaps just enough. They make by, but they never have a whole lot. Joseph finds work, but they go through the dry spells. He can’t see retirement on the horizon. Why? If Jesus were God, wouldn’t things be better? You would think God would make things better for the adoptive parents of His son. Yet they live a normal life, and if anything suffer for being the parents of God.
We you would think that. We would think God would take better care of them. We think He should make things better for us just for believing in Him. I catch myself thinking that! We never really understand. We try to make deals with Him. If you just let us get this job, then… Lord if you make it work like this. We’ll go to church every Sunday if you will. And then if it doesn’t work out the way we want it to, well how many do you know that don’t go to church anymore for whatever reason? I’m amazed how often I run into those who believed at one time, and then… It is painful to see. People who thought the Christian faith was this or that. They never really looked into it to see what it was. People who start coming to church, often with some sort of deal they think they made with God to help them out. And then when they get on their feet, that is when they stop coming! Faith, how fast it fades.
I mean it amazes me to see it. But this is the Christianity that sells. “Unlock your Spiritual Potential.” “Your Best Life Now.” “Purpose Driven” it sells the idea that Jesus can help you overcome your debt, your humdrum life, your marriage problems, you name it. It is as if Jesus never really conquered the idols of the pantheon, but absorbed them into himself. Rather then finding a God to help you with your particular problem you find a Jesus prayer. But essentially you utilize Jesus the same way pagans utilized their worthless gods to meet the problems of here and now, and when He doesn’t perform you discard Him. If there was a loving God, then their wouldn’t be any pain in the world. If God atleast love me he would shield me from it.

But he does love you and he is a loving God. And so He doesn’t do what you expect Him too. But He does what He needs to do for you. No He isn’t about making this life all that much easier on you, except to give you hope. He loves you as much as He loved His Mom and Dad, who didn’t have it easy in this life either. Who perhaps suffered even more on account of Him. And a sword will pierce your soul also Mary, we heard Simeon say last week. Mary and Joseph thought that Jesus should be following them back to Nazareth. Jesus knew better, He knew He should be in His Father’s house. His disciples thought He should be ushering in the kingdom, restoring it to Israel. But Jesus knew better and died on the cross for the sins of humanity. We see the minor things, He saw the big picture. We would be content if he would just fix these small little things in our lives. But Jesus would rather give us life, a new life all together. And so he does, dying to forgive our sins, and rise again from the grave.


Steve Martin said...

He went out of his way to tell the disciples that their lives would (also) not work. That they too, would have trouble.

"If they do this to me when the wood is hard, what will they do to you when the wood is green."

For the Christian (and everyone else, too) there is no justice, no peace, and no victory in this life.

Thanks, Bror!

Great sermon!

Frank Sonnek said...

the sermon I got on this text was that Jesus had a mission and so we have a mission and jesus knew what his mission was and now so do we know what our mission is.

it was in portuguese with a new pastor. so i THINK that was it...

If I got it right, Jesus is the new Moses. Leading us on a mission. Thanks for bringing this text back to the Holy Gospel pastor E.

Luther points us to the incarnation to know what sanctification "looks" like. Jesus just showed up and 'did Jesus".

The Holy Gospels are chock full of references that make Jesus look ordinary. he had to be always pointed out in a crowd, identified even in betrayal with a kiss. he was known as a hard drinker and glutton. the disciples were constantly amazed. why? Only rarely did they address Jesus as anything special and it is THOSE comments that are marked as out of the ordinary. He always had to be pointed out in a crowd.His small town neighbors didnt say "oh yeah Jesus, there always was somn diff about that little boy!" no. why not? this is amazing to me Bror. I usually work at being good in a way that intentionally makes me stand out. that old adam is who is doing the good works that tells me and not the new man that has put on Christ.

So article VI of the solid declaration tells us that sanctification looks like automatically just doing Jesus. And some Lutherans in our sem have written that saying this reduces sanctification to some platonic less-than-real thing. What alot of Lutherans call 'sanctification' is actually called 'mortification of the flesh". which Jesus did NOT need to do. There is the confusion right there.

What most seem to miss is just how amazingly invisible and unremarkable Jesus was. And that, to our sin-filled imagination, is ... well... I dont know what to do with that fact actually. except ponder it in my heart.