Second Sunday After Christmas (2020)

The first day of school for me in first grade did not end how I would have hoped it to. I was so excited to leave kindergarten and move on to the more advanced years. When I arrived home after the first day of class though I was not very happy. My mom asked why I was frustrated and I replied, “I didn’t learn how to read today.” I had expected to learn how to read in one day and even the first day. I did not want to have to learn, I wanted to be given this wisdom by a miracle. I didn’t want to be a student.

Today’s gospel reading is so great for the baptized because it gives us hope when we get frustrated with learning, when we don’t want to be students of God’s word. Comfort for when things don’t always make sense to us, we walk by faith and lean not on our own understanding.

Notice a few things first about Jesus’ family life. Last Sunday we heard how rough it was from the very beginning, the devil hates children and he tried to kill Jesus at every turn. The holy family had to flee to Egypt and finally Nazareth. The family traveled quite a bit. And that’s where we find them again in today’s reading. Traveling was a regular part of their life because that’s what faithful Jews did for the major feasts.

Before we get to the traveling though we hear Luke tell us, the child grew and became strong and filled with wisdom. This is a profound mystery but one that is not too far fetched. IT seems that Jesus when he was born did not know everything. That Jesus who is our brother in the flesh had to learn things. Can you imagine? God, the creator of all things puts aside all his wisdom and knowledge in order that he might know what it means to learn. Jesus was a student, there were things he didn’t know, “the child grew strong” just as Jesus’ body grew from being an infant to a 12 year old so too he grew mentally. This also has partly to do with their traveling.

After Luke tells us that Jesus grew and was filled with wisdom we see where Jesus did his learning, “his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover every year.” While in Jerusalem part of the Passover is when the children ask the very Lutheran question as part of the Passover in Exodus , “What does this Passover mean?” You are to answer them, “’With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” So Jesus heard the story of the Passover every year. Jesus like us, followed a church calendar. And his parents went up every year to Jerusalem for the major feasts. But you can imagine as Jesus heard the same bible verses and the same teachings on these verses that he was given wisdom on exactly what it means that his cross is the fulfillment of the Exodus. We can’t read Jesus’ mind, we don’t know exactly what he knows when, but we do see that Jesus and his parents regarded teaching the faith and repetition by asking questions as very important.

I think we can for ourselves gather from this the importance of our regular attendance and hearing the word of God. Not only that we learn hear but also that we teach our children at home and if you don’t have children you provide support either by teaching here or by your money. This is a better investment than any stock market or real estate. But don’t we put more effort into the things we can’t take with us into eternal life? Our children are the only gifts we take with us into eternal life.

Jesus’ life was always in danger, even as an infant and yet Mary and Joseph traveled because they lived by faith in God’s promises of his word. Isaiah 55:11 God says his word does not return to him void, without purpose. SO even in the Old Testament God’s people lived by faith knowing that God’s word teaches us salvation. It’s more than about just delivering information to those God gives us to teach and for us to be students ourselves.

I’ve unfortunately heard well meaning Christians say, “I don’t need to come to church or Sunday school, I know everything I need to know.” Today we read that Jesus repeatedly went to learn and that he sat at the feet of the teachers. Jesus wanted to hear the word and be a student to grow in wisdom. Mary and Joseph went through great pains and inconvience to make sure they were faithful parents bring their son up in the word of God. They knew that Jesus was the Son of God and yet they still brought Jesus up as a normal boy who needed to learn. What a temptation though, “Jesus is the Lord of the most high, he doesn’t need to go to Passover this year. He already knows everything. He wrote the scriptures. Let’s just go have a picnic. The countryside is beautiful at the time of the Passover.” No. It is the opposite, the stronger your faith the more you realize you need to learn more. Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew the importance of being faithful Jews who believed in the promise. But this reading is not about the faithfulness of Mary and Joseph but Jesus.

We can imagine the fright that Joseph and Mary might feel. They’ve been having to hide Jesus running from one part of the country to the other because the threats on Jesus’ life and now, “when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 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, 45 and when they did not find him They returned to Jerusalem.”

No angel comes in a dream to tell them where Jesus is. No star in the sky to find him. They search because they know they lost Jesus. An obedient child is easy to overlook. Should we also not search to find Jesus? Do you know that the devil is constantly trying to take Jesus from you? He doesn’t do it in open and obvious ways. And he doesn’t try to do it all at once. Little by little is how I often see the devil work to weaken people’s resolve. Is it not true that we are not as dedicated as Joseph and Mary to hearing the word of God? Do we not also chafe at having to learn God’s word? Isn’t there always some better way to spend your time? Search out Jesus. Don’t look for an angel or star in the sky, where is Jesus found? His father’s house. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name I am there.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Jesus is where his word is. Yes the author is learning his word. At age 12 a Jewish boy could then address the rabbi publicly. This is where we find Jesus. Mary finds Jesus too but misses the mystery of Jesus being born from her own womb. It is necessary that Jesus be in his father’s house.

That’s a fine translation but I like this translation better, “Do you not know it is necessary that I am doing my father’s business?” Jesus spoke this same way at his baptism when John the Baptism didn’t want to baptize Jesus. Jesus said, “It is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” There are things that Jesus must do and being in his father’s house being taught and teaching the teachers is that very thing.

This is the great thing about this text today, where we sin and just can’t seem to always hunger for God’s word as students, Jesus does. Jesus is the perfect student and teacher on our behalf! When we might get bored in church or Sunday school, Jesus never did. His desire was to succeed where you have sinned.

Jesus’ life was lived perfect in every aspect so that he may give his life to you. His righteousness in your place. Jesus was patient even in the face of not knowing everything. Jesus even admitted he didn’t know all things when he was asked when the last day was Jesus said only the father knows. Jesus was ok with not knowing all things and being a student who lived by faith. Even for us, when we don’t exactly understand God’s word, rejoice in being a student. Rejoice that Jesus has purified your ignorance by baptism. Rejoice that salvation and the assurance of our salvation does not depend on how good of a student we are but on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That he was perfect. He earned your place in heaven. He was an obedient child to his earthly parents Joseph and Mary. This was all being about his father’s business. God is in the business of saving you.

There will be then another three days when everyone thinks Jesus is lost. That death has claimed him, that sin and the devil had won. But today’s reading is a preview that another Mary will find Jesus three days later, raised on Easter and as Mary pondered the events of today’s gospel so too we should ponder in our hearts and continue to learn the completeness of the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Your sins of laziness in learning God’s word, your losing patience as a teacher, your teenage years, all of it is forgiven in Jesus. That we too would not avoid being students but would with Solomon daily ask for wisdom. For wisdom is none other than Jesus himself. Jesus submits to Mary and Joseph, they lost him but he forgives them and he forgives you as well. It’s not so much that Mary found Jesus, but Mary as she pondered these things was found by Christ. He didn’t die in vain, he has guaranteed that he has found you.