121230 Luke 2:41-52

Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Luke 2:41-52

Theme: Go Home With Jesus This Christmas

"I'll be home for Christmas." The song made famous by Bing Crosby in 1943 became reality for the Pagels clan in 2012. Right after the Christmas Day service on Tuesday, we loaded up the Buick and made the six-hour trek to Clare, Michigan where we spent a few days with my wife's family.

How about you? Did you get home for Christmas? Or did family members travel to spend the holidays with you? If you weren't able to get home, or if you had other plans this year, you don't have to feel like you missed out because there is still time for you to go home before the Christmas season is over. Not to your hometown. Not to the place where you grew up. Today we have the opportunity to go home with Jesus for Christmas.

Let me explain. In the text before us today, Jesus wasn't in the place he called home. He was in Jerusalem, not Nazareth, but Jesus still felt very much at home because he was in his Father's house. So let's join him there. Let's follow Jesus to the temple. Let's...Go Home With Jesus This Christmas

Homecomings are often filled with emotions, and this homecoming was no exception. As we make our way into the temple courts, as we sit down and listen to Jesus, we will encounter...

I. The amazement of the people
         II. The astonishment of Mary and Joseph
III. The awareness of the Christ child

Joseph and Mary had gone up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the special meal the Lord had instituted so that the children of Israel would remember how he had delivered them from slavery in Egypt some fifteen hundred years earlier. Pious Jews traveled great distances to participate in the festival and worship their God. Joseph and Mary had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem many times before, but this trip was special because their son was with them.

When the Feast was over, Mary and Joseph packed up and headed north along with all their friends and relatives from Galilee. There was only one problem. Jesus wasn't with them, and his parents didn't know about it. Maybe there was some miscommunication. Maybe Mary thought that Jesus was with Joseph. Maybe Joseph thought that Jesus was with Mary. It's possible they thought Jesus was somewhere among their friends or relatives, but he wasn't.

Where was Jesus? Where would you expect to find a twelve-year-old boy in the big city? In the marketplace? Exploring the countryside? Getting into some kind of trouble? Jesus was in a place where it would have been highly unlikely to find a boy his age...any boy except him. He was in the temple, "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" (46).

If that surprises you, you aren't the only one. The people who were listening to Jesus were amazed too. In the New Testament, the word for "amazed" is often used to express a reaction to a miracle. Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed (Mark 2), and the people were amazed. Jesus raised a girl from the dead (Luke 8), and her parents were amazed. Jesus walked on the water (Mark 6), and the disciples were amazed.

The people in the temple that day were amazed, but for a different reason. They were "amazed at his understanding and his answers" (47). As the people talked with this boy, they were filled with all sorts of questions. Who is this child? Where did he come from? How can he know so much? They didn't know much about Jesus, but they knew that he had a depth of understanding far beyond his years.

We may not be able to communicate with our Lord face to face, but he still speaks to us through his Word. And we are equally amazed at Jesus' understanding and his answers. In his Word Jesus gives us the answers to life's most difficult questions.

Someone prays: "Lord, I am a sinner. Every day I fall short. Every day I fail. I know that I deserve your punishment. I know that the wages of my sin is death, so what possible hope can there be for a sinner like me?" Listen to Jesus' answer: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25).

Another person is confused and asks: "Dear God, there are so many religions in the world. How can I be sure that I am on the right path? How can I be sure that I am going to heaven?" Jesus' answer is clear: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Someone else out there is hurting and wants to know: "Lord, I try. I try so hard, but it just doesn't seem to do any good. I'm tired. I'm alone. I have nowhere else to turn." Jesus opens up his arms and says: "Come to me." "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

When we search the Scriptures, we cannot help but be amazed. Not by Jesus, the child prodigy. We are amazed because the Scriptures reveal a loving God, a God who loved us enough to send his Son to save us. Jesus is God's perfect answer to the problem of sin in the world. And Jesus continues to guide us and help us with all the other problems of life.

But amazement was not the only emotion in the temple that day. Jesus' parents were astonished.
About a day into their journey, Mary and Joseph realized that something was wrong. An entire day had passed, and they hadn't seen their son. They looked for Jesus among their friends and relatives, but he was nowhere to be found.

As Mary and Joseph hurried back to Jerusalem, they had plenty of time to dream up all kinds of scenarios in their minds. Where could Jesus be? What happened to him? Will he be okay? Will we find him in one piece? Will we be able to find him at all?

If you are a parent, maybe you can relate. Maybe you have your own lost child story. Even if you don't have kids, you have probably misplaced something of value. Do you remember how you felt? Did you feel the pit in your stomach? Now try to put yourself in Mary and Joseph's shoes. They didn't misplace their keys. They lost their son who also happened to be the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.

After three days of worrying and waiting, after hours and hours of searching and praying, they finally found Jesus in the temple. Imagine what they were feeling. It was probably a combination of frustration and relief. Those mixed emotions might explain Mary's state of mind when she asked: "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you" (48). Mary didn't understand why Jesus had done this to them, and at that point she probably didn't care. She was just happy to be able to hold her son in her arms.

Joseph and Mary should have known better. They should have known where Jesus was. They should have known that Jesus was in no real danger. The angel Gabriel told Mary that her child would be "the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). And so didn't it make sense that the Son of God would be in the house of God?

Another angel had appeared to Joseph in a dream. He told Joseph to give his child the name Jesus "because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Weren't those instructions enough to convince Joseph that his child was no ordinary boy?

But before we criticize Mary and Joseph, we need to remember that we have the advantage. We know what happened. We know exactly how it happened. We have it all right here in black and white. And we still question God...when we don't understand why the Lord allows hardships to enter our life...when we pray and don't get the answers we are looking for...when we think we know what is best for us and are astonished when God doesn't make things go our way.

The good news is that Jesus doesn't treat us the way we so often treat him. Even when we are faithless, he remains faithful. And already at the age of twelve, it was obvious that the Christ child was well aware of who he was.

What follows are the first recorded words of Jesus during his life on earth. He said to his parents: "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house" (49)? Two simple questions, asked with respect. Two purposeful questions, not asked because Jesus was looking for answers, but because he wanted his parents to understand his divine nature and his divine mission.

In the Lord's Prayer, we pray to "our Father in heaven" because we are God's children. We were adopted into God's family when we were brought to faith. The words Jesus chose were similar, but not identical. He called God "my Father." Jesus was the Son of God, but not in the same sense that we are God's children. Jesus was with God in the beginning. Jesus was God's Son from eternity.

Jesus told his mother that he "had to be" in his Father's house. Maybe you remember the King James translation of this verse. Jesus told Mary that he had to be "about his Father's business." Jesus was born into this world for a very specific purpose. Jesus came to earth to carry out some very important business. And already now God was preparing him for his divine mission.

A few chapters later in Luke, Jesus spoke with the same sense of urgency when he explained to his disciples what he had come to earth to do: "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (9:22).

Jesus was obedient to his parents and returned to Nazareth, but he knew that he would be in his Father's house again. As he talked with those teachers in the temple, he knew that the religious leaders would plot to kill him some twenty years later. As he walked the streets of Jerusalem, he knew that he would walk that way again...carrying his own cross.

Even now Jesus was aware of the difficult road that lay before him, but he traveled it anyway. He walked the way of the cross for you. He lived a perfect life for you. He suffered for you. He was rejected for you. He was crucified for you. And on the third day, he was raised to life for you.

This account is unique in the four gospels. It is the only biblical record we have of Jesus between his infancy and the beginning of his public ministry. If these events had not been written down for us our faith wouldn't change, but this little glimpse into Jesus' early life does teach us valuable lesson.

The classic picture of Jesus during the Christmas season is a baby lying in a manger. He was that, but he is more than that. That perfect baby was also a perfect child who grew up to be our perfect substitute. He is the God-man, the Savior, the Messiah who never wavered from his soul-saving mission. May our journey home with Jesus this Christmas give us renewed hope and confidence as we anticipate our final homecoming in heaven. Amen.

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