Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the second chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Heaven burst upon the earth the night of our Lord’s delivery. Angels and Archangels sang their praises before God and a few humble shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks by night. Yes, beloved, the Angels sang. A good Word was given. And the Shepherds were told where to find Him. Heaven wasn’t necessarily out in the fields, but was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. The glory of God rained down upon Bethlehem and was gathered up in a feeding trough in the flesh of the infant Jesus. With the birth of Jesus Heaven descends to earth. For, heaven is not so much a place as it is the place where God the LORD is. With Christmas God has been born. “Unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ – the LORD.” God has become flesh, incarnate, a baby born of the blessed virgin. Thus heaven coos, and cries, and writhes and wiggles, and nurses and fills his britches, and grows, and matures, and travels to Egypt, and then to Nazareth. Heaven fills the carpenter’s home as Jesus is subject to His earthly parents.
Where Jesus is there is Heaven. All who would be in heaven must be where Jesus is. Apart from Jesus, apart from this child, apart from the one who suffered, died and rose again, there is no heaven – only hell.
Thus you can imagine the horror of Mary and Joseph, stewards of heaven on earth, when they depart from the temple without Jesus. Every parent’s nightmare is losing their child whether it’s in the supermarket for a few minutes as he or she hides in the next aisle, or to a stranger in a parked car at the bus stop, or to an accidental death. Losing a child is hell. Mary and Joseph lost the Son of God! They lost heaven in the flesh. That was hell. Thus they searched and searched and traced over their steps. They went back to where they last saw Him, where they knew He was before they left. They went to the temple and after three days they found Him – safe, sound, and teaching the teachers.
Mary and Joseph, for those brief 3 days, failed as parents. They took their eyes off heaven and lost their son, they lost Jesus and were thrust into a world of chaos. It was as though they themselves were lost. And so it is when we lose sight of Jesus. We get lost. It’s not Jesus who gets lost. He’s never lost. He’s always where He’s supposed to be – doing His Father’s business. But we get lost. We get distracted. We lose sight of heaven and become more concerned about other things, earthly things, fleshly things. The devil, the world, and even our own sinful nature leads us away from Jesus and where He is, thus also away from heaven.
Look at your lives. Is there disorder, chaos, unrest, lack of rest, arguments with family, brothers and sisters warring with one another? Are you tired, weary, wandering from place to place trying to find your place, your purpose, your calling? Have you indulged in the wrong things? Have you touched forbidden fruit? Have you found yourself chasing after women and wine, power and status, all the while neglecting your vocation as Husband or wife, parent or child, godly citizen and godly neighbor? Chasing sin leads to disordered lives. It hurts the ones we’re called to love and loves those things which the Lord calls us to repent of. Chasing sin, we lose sight of Jesus, suffer the torments of a chaotic life, feel lost and dizzy as we are led to hell. We need to turn around. You need to turn around, not just today, not just as your New Year’s resolution, but every day. For, every day we sin. Every day we take our eyes off of heaven. Every day we fail and begin to wander away like Mary and Joseph did in Jerusalem. To follow Jesus, to be where Jesus is, to have heaven for today, tomorrow and eternity requires faith, faith that is fixed on Jesus and His Word.
You see, beloved, we are the ones who wander into sin, not Jesus. He was about His Father’s business. He’s doesn’t get lost. He’s never lost. He knows what He’s doing. He knows why He’s come. He’s come to save His people from their sins. He’s come to save you. He’s come to be about His Father’s business.
And He knows where He’s going. He’s going to the cross, going for Mary and Joseph, and you and me and the whole world. He’s going about His Father’s business in humble obedience. Here He willing subjects Himself to His earthly parents. He obeys the fourth commandment and honors both father and mother. On the cross He willing subjects Himself to Pilate and Herod and His Father’s righteous Law. He does not complain. He does not whimper and whine. He doesn’t try to justify Himself. No, He is silent – led like a lamb to the slaughter. He goes to the cross! He goes for you and me. He goes to shed His blood, blood that will cover over your failings, your wanderings, your lusts and your foolish distractions. He goes into the midst of hell, suffers the forsakenness of His heavenly Father, pleads for your forgiveness, pours out His very life, endures the scorn and mockery of man’s folly, suffers, dies and surrenders to His Father’s will. He is about His Father’s business to the very end, even unto eternity.
For the Father does not will that His Son be lost to the world! But after three days Jesus is found again, found alive, proclaimed risen and resurrected from the dead. The Holy One of God saw no decay and stepped out of the death and the grave that Easter morning so that you and I may find Him, and finding Him, follow Him, and following Him by faith, enter into Heaven for all eternity, for heaven isn’t so much a place, as it is the place where Jesus dwells. Wherever Jesus is there is Heaven.
Mary and Joseph found Jesus after three days. It was as though He were raised from the dead. Getting Jesus back they received heaven back. Receiving heaven they were restored to their vocations and Jesus willingly subjected Himself to their parental office. That’s what forgiveness does. It’s not just the wiping away of sins but it’s more. There’s always more with Jesus. And it’s always good. With forgiveness Jesus also gives the restoration of one’s life and purpose in the kingdom of God. Receiving forgiveness you and I are renewed, whether it’s as parents, spouse, citizen or neighbor. We each have our vocations. And though we daily sin much, are distracted with other things, too often neglect those whom God has given us to love, He forgives us in Christ and sends us back to love as He’s loved us. He puts His Word into action toward us first and thus through such a loving and active Word He teaches us to love others. He teaches us how to live our lives to His glory and for the good of our neighbor. In Him we have redemption, redemption of our whole lives, who and what we are as well as what we do. In Christ we are a new creation.
Thus as His new creation, buried with Him in our baptism and raised with Him in His resurrection, we follow where He goes and learn how He loves. His Word becomes our life as His Word strengthens us against sin and temptation while at the same time teaching us to how to live and move and have our whole being in Him. His Word tells us what is sin. His Word reveals where we get lost. His Word directs us back to Christ. His Word gives us the Love of God. His Word sustains us as we serve our families, our neighbors, and our community. His Word gives us His presence. For where the Word of God is, there is the Word made flesh, there is Heaven!
Beloved in the Lord, As Christians we want to be where the Word of God is, we want to be where Jesus is. We want heaven. If we don’t then we have to ask ourselves if we’re truly Christians. Christians are about Christ, about Jesus, about hearing His Word and following His paths. Our faults and failing get in the way and we can often get lost. But Jesus is never lost. He is always where He needs to be for us. Therefore when we find that we are lost, that our eyes have not been on Jesus, nor our ears hearing His Word, let us retrace our steps, making the sign of the cross, remembering our baptism, remembering that Jesus is always about His Father’s business in His Father’s house. Let us repent and return our lives to the Lord. And then let us sing with angels and archangels, with Mary and Joseph, and all the saints, yes, let us sing, Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth! Heaven has come down this morning. Jesus is here, for you. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!