Lost in Jerusalem
Second Sunday After Christmas
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 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, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.” [Luke 2:41-45]
Those of you who have children may remember a similar incident with one of your young ones. With this in mind, we may be able to understand why Mary and Joseph were so upset about being separated from Jesus. “After three days they found him in the temple…” [Luke 2:46] Three days! Can you imagine that? I’m sure Mary and Joseph were worked up into quite a tizzy.
However, Jesus was not playing childish games in the marketplace or running wild through the streets. After three days, Mary and Joseph found him sitting in the temple courts listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Mary and Joseph were upset with Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” [Luke 2:48] Jesus responded, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he was saying to them. [Luke 2: 49-50]
What was Jesus doing in the temple? The text tells us he was, “…sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” [Luke 2:46-47] He was doing the work his Father had sent him to do.
Many of you may have grown up learning the family business. I have seen more than one instance of sons and daughters learning the trade of their fathers. One of my roommates in Seminary was the oldest son in the family. He was from India and in that culture the oldest son is expected to follow his father in his work. If you father was a bricklayer, then the firstborn son would be a bricklayer. If your father was a doctor, then the firstborn son would become a doctor. This young man’s father just happened to be a Lutheran pastor, and so, his son Thomas, was doing his father’s business.
I did not follow my father’s footsteps. I worked with my father for about three years and quickly realized it was not for me. My father was a businessman in every sense of the word. When he was young, he too worked in his father’s business but didn’t like it. Over the years, he had different jobs but eventually became a consultant to other businesses and corporations.
A great majority of the men in Seminary were sons, grandsons and great grandsons of pastors. Some of you may be generational ranchers, farmers, doctors or lawyers etc. Maybe you were not the firstborn son yet, over the decades, the family business continues.
Therefore, it is no surprise to find the firstborn (and only Son) of God doing the work of his Father. It is no surprise to find Jesus in the temple bringing God into our midst. We need him in every sense of the word. We need him in order to live. It is he who brings us life, not only in our daily bread, but also in the life-giving bread and wine of forgiveness that is his body and blood.
This is a great and glorious world filled with wonders. It is a great display of God’s creation given to us by His great pleasure. Unfortunately, it is a world filled with sin as well. We broke the covenant between God and His people by disobeying Him in the perfect garden in a place called Eden. With the broken covenant came sin.
We were cast out from the presence of God because we were no longer holy. Throughout the history of humankind, we have tried to regain that place of blessedness in the presence of our creator, but we fail.
It seems today that we not only fail to heed and obey the laws and commands of our Lord, but that we actually strive against His righteousness and goodness. We tear down anything that represents the one true God. We remove him from our conversations. We remove him from our songs and music. We take him out of our government and courthouses so that we might not offend those who have already rejected him. It is no wonder people ask where we can find God, because we are looking for him in our sin instead of at the foot of the cross.
The truth is God has not left us. He has remained faithful and true to His children. He has not left us abandoned in the world cold and hungry without a home.
We are the children who let go of His hand and ran away into the manmade sanctuaries of false gods called greed, lust and envy. Even as little children, we know it is wrong to hide from our loving Father. Like Adam and Eve, we peek out from our hiding places and watch as God seeks us out.
We do not have Christ in his human form walking about the earth, teaching and preaching, but that does not mean he is not with us. The Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20]
Christ is with us in our lives. He made us His own when we were baptized in His name. When He died on the cross and rose again in victory over death, He gave us eternal life. Now Christ lives in me and He lives in you. Jesus’ question is a good one, “Why are you searching for me?” We do not have to search for Him – He lives in us!
He lives in us through our baptism. He lives in us through the bread and wine which is His body and blood. He lives in us through the Word of the Holy Scriptures. Jesus never leaves us. He loves us so much that he died for our sins that we would be redeemed, so that we would now become righteous and holy in the eyes of God our Father.
It is true that God is everywhere and that we are powerless against His will. He can and does find His children wherever they may be. Yet just as the children of this realm must do as their earthly father’s command, we must also follow in our heavenly Father’s footsteps.
God sent His firstborn Son to us, to teach us Our Father’s will. Jesus Christ was sent make us true heirs to the kingdom of God. He followed his father’s commandments perfectly. He loves as his father loves, forgives as his father forgives. He is a true son of man and a true Son of God doing what his Father has always done – redeeming His people.
This is why He sent His Son into our midst. This is why a child was born to a blessed virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ became human in order to stand next to us in our palaces of iniquity and say, ‘You are lost, let me show you the way home.’
Without Christ in our lives, we have no home, no resting place. It is only through Jesus that we are accepted as children in God’s family. Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.
The one who makes us holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. He says:
“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” [Heb 2:11-13]
And with Jesus living in us we can never be away from Him. The only time God can seem far away from us is when we concede to the lies of this wicked world. When we believe the propaganda that permeates our culture, we shut God out. I know it is difficult not to do what everybody else is doing, but we have Christ living in us. As St. Paul reminds the church in Ephesus:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
Love one another, for we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith; because in Christ Jesus, faith works through love. We have the Holy Spirit guiding us.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” [Ephesians 1:13-14]
Know that this world is not our final resting place. Know that this world is not our home. Through Christ Jesus, we have a place in our Father’s house where we are loved, fed and comforted. Jesus Christ makes us holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.
He was the firstborn of the Father and the first to rise in victory over sin and death. He has redeemed you to become his children to live with him and our true Father. His work is completed through His Son. We all now receive the fruits of his labor – eternal life.