January 4, 2015 — Christmas II
Sermon text — Luke 2:40-53
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, the second chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
The Child Grew
Everything that happens in the gospels, everywhere Jesus goes, every word He speaks, every miracle He works, every deed done, every life touched, every prophecy fulfilled, every step taken, blood dropped, lash felt, brow pierced, nail driven, body buried, tomb sealed on Friday and found empty on Sunday, EVERYTHING happens for you and for the world. Christmas is about Jesus for you and Jesus for you is always in light of His passion for you. So when St. Luke records that “the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke records this for you, for you to receive by faith, clinging to these words, making them your own in your heart.
So we hear that even as Child Jesus is working your salvation. Here in our text Jesus bows to the will of His mother and father. The greater one submits to the lesser. The creator respects those whom He has created. His dignity is not dishonored by such humility. His worth is not lessened by obedience. His personal growth is not stunted with religious observances. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. Jesus grows. Jesus matures and becomes strong in Spirit. He is filled with wisdom and the grace of God is upon Him. All this Jesus does, Jesus suffers, Jesus submits too because Jesus is doing all this for you and He’s doing all this for you with out sin.
They did not Know they Lost Him
But Jesus cannot be made one’s own, taken into the heart if you lose Him. Having worshipped in the temple and celebrated the Passover Mary and Joseph make their way they lost Jesus. They lost him and they didn’t know it. Why didn’t they know it? They supposed Him to have been with their company, the crowd making the trip with them. They lost Jesus because they no longer heard Jesus. They lost Jesus because they no longer saw Jesus. They lost Jesus because they supposed He was with them despite not hearing or seeing Him in their midst. This text isn’t about the parenting skills of Mary and Joseph. This text is about losing and finding Jesus and therefore also eternal salvation. Losing Jesus one loses everything. Losing Jesus you lose salvation. Supposing Him to be in your midst without hearing and seeing Him is downright foolish.
Yet how many who call themselves Christians fail to hear him? How many suppose Him to be with them, but never hear His voice, His Word, and they never behold His works in His sacraments? And how many look for Jesus everywhere? That’s what Mary and Joseph did! They realized they had lost Him and started looking everywhere. They spent three days going here and looking there. And they did not find Him. They did not find Him because they supposed Him to be where He was not.
So it is with humanity’s fallen reason, we suppose Jesus to be in places other than where He has promised to be. We do this because we do not fully grasp the humility of our God. Who would look in Bethlehem for the King of kings? Who would look in a manger for the Good Shepherd? Who would suppose an infant would be the creator of the stars? Man’s reason cannot fully fathom the mystery of the incarnation! Man’s supposing cannot imagine that God would not choose the mighty, the glorious, the beautiful, the spectacular, the extra-ordinary. And so we look everywhere and we never find anywhere. Never finding leads to doubt. Doubt leads to despair and depression. Faith has nothing to grasp, no word, no object, nothing to fill the heart with peace.
Nature abhors a void. The heart must have a god, faith must have an object. Without the certainty of possessing Jesus the heart covets, lusts, schemes, chases, and makes every effort to acquire good things for the wrong use, –things like family. But not just any family, the kind you brag about on the back end of your car. Or your career, but not just any career the kind you brag about at your high school reunion. Or your education, but not just any education, the kind you brag about on your resume. Or your house or your car, or maybe it’s something more spiritual like your yearly pilgrimage to the soup kitchen. With all of this chasing, scheming and coveting, it’s pretty easy to lose Jesus and not even know it. If Mary and Joseph could lose Him so could you.
He was found in the Temple
Luke then gives us Jesus’ first words. Having searched Jerusalem for three days, Mary and Joseph finally find Him in the temple. “When they saw Him they were amazed and His mother said, Son, why have done this to us.” Sinful humanity always thinks it’s God’s fault we can’t find Him. But Jesus answers, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Mary and Joseph should have known. Jesus must be about His Father’s business. But we don’t know, we don’t get it because we suppose the Father’s business is something other than giving the forgiveness of sins for our salvation. All of our scheming, chasing and coveting is a pursuit for the blessings of God rather than the pursuing God Himself. The Father’s business for you is the giving of His Son for you. This doesn’t sound like or look like anything we would suppose but rather everything we would consider to be less than worthy of the dignity of our God. For this reason Herod does not worship a child nor do the priests make their way to Bethlehem. Such things are given to unclean shepherds and gentile magi. And though He came unto His own His own did not receive Him. Though Jesus IS before Abraham was the Jews rejected Him. And their rejection led to crucifixion. And who would every supposed to find God on the cross? But this is exactly the Father’s business Jesus came to do. Here on the cross, in the most unlikely of places to find God, Jesus reveals the love God, manifesting such affection through suffering and death, mixed with blood, sweat, and tears. For the love of God is the giving of His Son for you. This giving is not wrapped in decorative paper, this giving is not brought about by a man riding in a sleigh, nor is it hidden from view, tucked away as a surprise! No, beloved, this giving, this gift, this love for you and the world is nailed to dead wood for all the world to see, for all the world to draw near, and you having been brought near by the blood of Jesus. Though He dies on Friday He rises on Sunday. Though He is buried and sealed behind rock He is risen and has burst the three day tomb shattering the curse and breaking the fetters of our bondage. Though He is humiliated He is exalted. And all this is the Father’s business for you.
Did you not know?
Why were you seeking? What are you looking for? Did you not know that if you looking for a lucky charm you won’t find it in Jesus. If you’re looking for a co-pilot, Jesus isn’t your man. If you’re looking for a stylized Jesus, a guy with a lot of product in his hair, who drinks decaf and makes pithy statements about life and such, He’s not that sort of guy either. Jesus didn’t come to be cool, revolutionary, or hip. He’s not the prizefighter, manly man’s sort of Jesus who’s come the “Pummmp you up” morally, emotionally or whatever it is you hope to get from Him. Nor is He the wimp who runs away whenever someone gets in His face. Jesus has come to do His Father’s business and His Father’s business is all about winning the forgiveness of sins for you through His death and resurrection. If you’re looking for any other sort of Jesus you will never find the true Jesus. Because the true Jesus, the one born of Mary, the one crucified, dead, buried, risen and ascended to the Father’s right hand is found only in His Church. Jesus is found only in His Word – so listen to Him. Jesus is found only in His sacraments – therefore behold Him! He is under bread and wine with His body and His blood. He in the water with His Name and His Passion. And He speaks tenderly to His people from this pulpit and that lectern. Through these Jesus is with His people. He is found by what is heard and seen. He is received by faith in the heart. Having received Him He goes with you. Jesus is found in His church so that He can be found forgiving sinners like you and me and all who draw near. He is found and thus He is worshipped. To worship Jesus is to receive from Jesus the gifts the Father sent Him to deliver. To worship Jesus is to believe in Jesus and to believe in Jesus is to worship Jesus where He’s promised to be. Without the hearing and the beholding, without the believing and the worshipping you will lose Jesus and you will lose salvation.
Jesus Increased (Conforming to Christ)
Beloved in the Lord, Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth and was subject to His parents. He went with them for them even as He does so with His people today. Having received Jesus today He goes with you and for you. As you continue to receive Him in Word and Sacrament by your hearing and beholding Jesus will increase and you will decrease. The Word will work on your heart and your heart and soul will be conformed to Christ and His cross. When you are where Christ is you cannot lose. For Christ is always about the Father’s business and the Father’s business is always for your good. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!