Monday, January 5, 2015

He was Submissive to Them

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 [6] 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?” [7] 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 [8] and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:40-52 (ESV)

Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house? So Jesus answers his mother and father, a subtle reminder of who he is before he returns to Nazareth where he is submissive to them, that is, fulfills the fourth commandment for us. But you can see tension in the text, tension between Jesus and his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. They are distressed, and he answers with his own astonishment that they didn’t know where to look for him. It seems not even Jesus was immune to the hardships of family life that so often occur when parents find it hard to understand their children, and children their parents.
Jesus was submissive to Mary and Joseph as he grew up. But this still could not have been easy for them. If ever there was a child that was hard to understand it had to be Jesus. I mean parents usually understand their children to some extent. Sometimes the problem is they understand their children too much. It’s the painful part of parenting, raising yourself, and realizing your children are more than likely going to make the same mistakes you did, let the same passions carry them.  You understand them as much as you understand yourself, and sometimes it is yourself you understand least.  And though you may have learned from your mistakes, teaching from them is an entirely different manner. But that’s the thing here, with Jesus you didn’t have that. You had the incarnate deity, sinless, and very aware of who he was and his relationship to his Father, being raised by sinners who were as about at odds in understanding their son as any sinner, like you and me, trying to understand God. We have a hard time wrapping our minds around the Trinity itself, a hard time trying to understand how God could become man and die on the cross, a hard time understanding God’s law, why it is using the name of the Lord in vain should rank higher on the list than adultery or murder. 
And here is Jesus, lost for three days, 12 years old. Not even considered a” son of the law” yet. At least a few months before he would have his Bar Mitzvah. It’s easy to understand how this happens, if you understand the culture Jesus grew up in. The parents would have let the boys of this age run together with the other boys from town, those they had travelled with. Takes a village. Jerusalem isn’t a big city, perhaps 50 some thousand. Still quite large enough for a kid to get lost in the crowd.  During the festival of the Passover, a little more than twice that, the streets packed. I remember heading into on a Saturday evening as the Sabbath let out, and seriously wondering if I could get back to my hotel. The crowd was thick shoulder to shoulder, and you were just carried along like you were in the middle of a river. Where to find a 12 year old in the city? The temple would probably be the last place parents would think to look for their child. But there is Jesus, teaching the teachers of Israel. Teaching men of leisure who spent their leisure in study of scripture, kibitzing over the finer points.  This is where they find Jesus. In his Father’s house, being about his Father’s business, as it were. And there in the temple his parents are as amazed to find him as every other sinner in this world is amazed to find him in his father’s house, the temple built not with hands, but upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone, the church as we normally call it where the gospel is proclaimed and the sacraments are administered amongst those gathered in his name.
Already now he knows who his Father is. He subordinates himself to his Father. He was one who did not find equality with God a thing to be grasped! He made himself nothing. Subordinated himself not only to His Father in heaven, but in subordinating himself to his Father in heaven he subordinated himself to his parents, earthly sinners who had trouble understanding him. Because that is how God has ordered this world, putting us all into relationships with each other, employer and employee, husband and wife, parents and children, where you have to learn to follow before you can learn to lead. And in order for Jesus to save us, he had to submit to the authority of Joseph and Mary, that he could be obedient to his Father unto death, even death on a cross, where he would redeem us, and forgive us that in his forgiveness even our relationships to each other would find redemption.  That he could build his church upon the confession of his name, a temple that will shatter the gates of hell, where Jesus himself can be found by those distressed with life’s vexations, husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, who find it hard to be obedient to those above them, and tolerant of those below, that these people would find reconciliation, and the peace of parents who find their children, the peace of lost children who are restored to their home, reconciled to our Father in heaven, by the blood of His Son.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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