Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Just like last month was the first month in a long time
we've had a blue moon, which is two full moons in the same month, today is
something that's somewhat unusual too. We don't always get to celebrate the
second Sunday after Christmas because the way that Christmas falls. But today
we do, and it's an opportunity to look at something we don't have the
opportunity to look at, which is about Christ in the temple.
Now it's very interesting, because we have already gone
through looking through Luke's Gospel, His conception by the Holy Spirit, His
birth, His being brought to the temple, His being threatened by Herod with the
killing of all the children two years old and younger in Bethlehem, and their
flight to Egypt. Then we have today. So between the flight to Egypt and their
return, obviously, and today we have no recollection according to the Gospel. Then
after today there is nothing left about Christ's life up until He's baptized.
So we have these two big blocks of time and in the middle of
those two big blocks of time, from His baptism and His flight to Egypt, is this
very poignant point of Him in the temple. He who is the Temple of God is in the
temple of God. Consider that. He who said, "Destroy this Temple and I shall
raise it again in three days," is in the very temple of God…God's
presence. God is in His temple, but He's in His temple as a 12-year-old boy?
Now that's fascinating indeed. He is in the temple as a 12-year-old boy, God in
the flesh, and is regaling the doctors of the Law regarding about the
Scripture, about Christ, and its fulfillment.
Now we don't know exactly what the conversation was between
the doctors of the Law and Christ, the 12-year-old boy, but there is a great
deal of revelation given to these men in their discussion, and He's showing
Himself to be truly a doctor of the Law for He is the One who wrote the
Scriptures. He is the Scriptures fulfilled. He is the Scriptures made flesh,
the Word made flesh. But still, though that is what He is, people turn their
back on Him. Even His own mother and stepfather have a hard time grasping who
Now there are some interesting things in the text. The first
one, in the beginning of the section, the pericope, the word Jerusalem
is mentioned three times. Now it's kind of interesting that they didn't say,
"Back to the town," or "Back to where they were." Luke
wants to make sure they know that this is to Jerusalem and three times, as he
mentioned, that's where they were going and that's where they returned to,
because Jerusalem was going to be the place where this 12-year-old boy will fulfill
His purpose for the world in His death outside of that city.
Just as Simeon told both parents, in their hearing, He would
be raised up for the dividing of the people of Israel. In other words there
will be people who will not believe and will fall away. So there are many
people there still, as you see here in this text, as well as today, who still
look at this and all we're a part of as if it's completely innocuous, with no
Another point in verse 45, "…and when they did not find
Him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for Him. After three days they found
Him…" Coincidence? That's not how God works. In the same way later on in
this book of Luke, as well as you can remember from all of the times you've
heard Bible studies or sermons about this, everybody that was gathered around
Jesus, His disciples, His own parents, all were wondering about Him. They had
faith in Him, but the completeness of that revelation did not come until after
Just like in the end of Luke when the disciples are walking
with Him to Emmaus, and He breaks bread with them, the Lord's Supper, and their
eyes are opened and they recognize Him for who He is, say, "Did not our
hearts burn within us as He opened to us the Scriptures?" But it wasn't
until they saw the completion of those Scriptures enfleshed in that supper were
their eyes opened. When those same disciples go back and talk to the 12, that's
what they say, "Our eyes were opened when He broke the bread with
They found Him in the temple after those three days. We
talked about this a few Sundays ago. The temple was always the place, the
place, of the presence of God. They tabernacled with Him and then finally
God allowed this temple to be built about whom the Old Testament reading said
Solomon was the builder of that temple, and now the very Temple of God Himself
is in that temple and that's where they find Him.
Now the problem is, for you and me, there are a lot of
people who want to make Jesus into something or someone who does a whole host
of other things than really the very purpose He came to be. There are people
who want Jesus to be that which changes their earthly life and they think in
terms of only their earthly life being changed. Fix my habits. Fix my marriage.
Fix my relationship with other people. Fix my kids. Fix my parents.
It's all seen in this very narrow box that Jesus is. Does He
do that? Yes, of course but is that His main purpose? Very emphatically…no. The
reason being is that if that is all that is about Jesus…to bring healing, to
change things in this earthly realm…then He is really a very miniscule God and
a very myopic Savior of which no value to us for the big picture of eternality.
What's He going to do for us forever?
Others see Jesus as merely a way to change how the world
functions and operates. If only we could put prayer back in school then it would
change everything. No. If only we could get everything taught correctly then it
would change everything. No! Sin is still sin. You and I still go home and face
ourselves in the mirror and look at ourselves and see what we really are. It
doesn't change it. Not for this life. It was the apostle Paul, who expounded in
the fifteenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians, said, "If
only for this life, if only for this life, we have faith in this God,
then we are to be pitied more than all men."
When Jesus amazes these doctors of the Law at His
understanding and His answers about the Scriptures, He's pointing them away
from the here and the now to the big picture of life and death, heaven and
hell, God and Satan. Now remember, the people who are gathered there want to
see things changed in their life. They want to see the Romans thrown off. They
want to see the glory of Israel raised up. They want to see another king like
David running the whole region and the world. Then, then things can
change around here if we can just get that to happen.
There are Christians gathering around the world today who
have been gathering around the world in that region, whatever that region may
be, for a long time. Especially those who have been gathering in their regions
for a long time that have been oppressed and live in a very antagonistic region
and it will never change because of the powers that be. And even if it did, is that
going to make God more approachable, likeable, swallowable?
When Mary says, "Son, why have you treated us so?
Behold, your father and I have been searching for You in great distress."
The mother of God sees her Son as God in the flesh and yet still grasps Him as
only her flesh and blood Son. And He responds, which is the first recorded
statement of our Lord in the entire Scriptures, here at 12 years old, "Why
were you looking for Me?" A very profound statement.
There's a professor who said he was on the street corner one
time and the street preacher said, "Have you found Jesus?" He
responded in a very quick-witted way, "I didn't know He was lost,"
making the point that…do we really find Jesus or does Jesus find us?
So when Mary and Joseph searching and in their ability to
find Him they still really do not find Him, not until after His death
and resurrection. You and me, as a body of Christ here, we are finding Jesus
but only where He deems Himself to be found and only as He has presented
Himself to be found. In other words, Jesus presents Himself to you and me each
and every Sunday here in this place, hearing and singing about Him, and in
receiving Him in that supper. Yet what He presents Himself as is not One that
only changes the things that are causing you chafe in this world. He comes to
take care of and heal broken, sin-filled lives with forgiveness.
Death may come as it did to Pastor's father-in-law. Did
Jesus change that fact? By no means, but He changed that fact in that death
wasn't merely a death; it was a release; it was a portal through which he
passed into eternal life. Baptizing a child doesn't change that child's sin.
It's not as if you're going to get a packaged child that's going to behave
perfectly and wonderfully. The hardest part of watching your adult children
grow up is that we see how either little effect we had on their life or great
effect you had on their life, and it's not always great in the right way.
But Jesus does change them and giving them death and
resurrection in Jesus is what changes them for eternity. There's a difference.
If we're only shortsighted to think that this proclamation is going to change
things in the next five minutes, five years, 50 years, 500 years, we are
shortsighted indeed. We are doing things here and proclaiming things here which
is God changing lives eternally. That's who He is.
But that reality was not brought home until God died on that
cross and God rose from the dead. The Temple was rebuilt in three days. Did
that reality come home to these disciples and Mary the mother of our Lord?
Think about the futility of sowing seed, looking for any
kind of harvest in this life. If that's all we're doing, to sow seed to see a
harvest in this life with our own eyes, to validate God, there's no faith involved,
is there? Yet Christians are tempted by Satan and their own flesh to expect
such results in this life. That is a very difficult thing, to walk and live by
faith in the One who came as an infant, as a 12-year-old, and as One who lived
and died for no one but you, and rose again for the same.
"I must be in My Father's house," were His words. "There
is no other way. I must fulfill the purpose for which I was Incarnated," and
that wasn't to purely bring little moments of light in your life that validates
Him as God. It is to bring the moment of light that validates Him, your
baptism, your regular hearing of that Word, and your eating of His flesh and
blood with the bread and wine. Seems extremely unemotional and almost
carboard-ish, not real. It's realer than death, and death is a pretty real
thing, isn't it? And it's realer than birth, and birth is a pretty real thing.
He left there and was submissive to His parents. Being
submissive to the very people whom He created and redeemed is humility. There
was no need for Him to submit Himself to Mary, His mother, and Joseph, His stepfather.
He's God. Yet He fulfilled that for you and me because heaven knows when you
consider yourself and myself as about submissive to our parents, yeah. Then
throw in there when our parents are not always worthy of being submitted unto.
It doesn't matter.
So He was submissive to them for you, but not to change your
relationship with your parents, or change your relationship with your own
children, but to heal your eternal damned soul to eternally heaven-bound soul,
but only through that death and resurrection. This is the God who reveals
Himself as a 12-year-old in the temple as the Temple. In Jesus' name, the One
who has come for us, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting, Amen.