More / Book of the Month / Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:40–52 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 3rd 2021 / Christmas 2 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:40–52 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 3rd 2021 / Christmas 2 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Childhood’s Pattern / Luke 2:40–52 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 3rd 2021 / Christmas 2 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 3rd 2020: Season of Christmas / Luke 2:40–52 “Childhood’s Pattern"

And the Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon Him.

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. 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. And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, Your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.” And He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that He spoke to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And His mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. In the last number of years, and again this year, we have highlighted that Christmas is not simply an evening and one day, it’s a season – a prolonged feast of 12 days – that ends as the season of Epiphany starts. Of course celebrating this feast of Christmas, this season of Christmas didn’t start in Christian circles until sometime after Jesus’ Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. In Jesus’ early days there was no Christmas and there was no Easter. The big celebration was Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. And these two festivals celebrated together lasted seven days. All male Jews were expected, each year, to go to Jerusalem during that time. They needed to go to the Temple to participate in the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb in remembrance of the LORD's rescue of the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt when God had told His people to put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts to mark their homes as the houses of His faithful. This blood of the lamb would be a sign to the Angle of Death to 'pass over' their home, but in the Egyptian houses where the blood of the sacrificial lamb was not painted on the door posts and lintel the Angel of Death entered in and all the first born sons regardless of age died. Here’s the first important detail for understanding our Gospel reading today, families where not required to spend all seven days in Jerusalem in order to celebrate the Passover.[1] They needed to spend at least two days to accomplish all they were expected to do, mainly the sacrifice of the Passover lamb in the Temple and the meal.

This is important when we consider why Jesus remained in the Temple when His parents had already departed. St. Luke tells us that Jesus’  “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.” Today we can celebrate Feasts and Festival in our own homes we are not required to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas or Easter. In fact if we travel at all it is usually to a family home to be together. If we as Christians needed to go every year to Jerusalem for Christmas let’s say then it would only make sense that we would travel together as families. And then perhaps we could have a situation where some family member was thought to be with another family member and then after some time we’d find that we had lost track of them. Of course these days you would need a passport and there would be many moments to account for everyone. This was not the case with Mary and Joseph; they didn’t need a passport to travel between Nazareth and Jerusalem.

Just imagine their panic when after all they had gone through, their narrow escape from King Herod, their flight to Egypt to keep little Jesus safe and then to realized you’d lost the Son of God and didn’t know where to find Him. Was He safe? Where was He? Was He dead? They would have felt all the fears and anxious feelings that wash over any parent who suddenly realizes their child is not with them as expected.

Not after two days, not after four days but after three days of looking they find Jesus in the Temple. Their son who they may have worried was dead, is not dead, He is alive in the Temple “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Jesus who is simultaneously both God and Man is exactly where He ought to be. Jesus the Son of God is in His Father’s House, in the Temple the last place the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph had thought to look. About 18 years later John the Baptizer would point to Jesus on the Banks of the Jordan River and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[2] And already at the age of 12 Jesus the Son of God, Jesus the Lamb of God, sat in the Temple during Passover as family after family brought their Passover Lamb to the Temple for the sacrifice. The religious life of the Children of Israel was unfolding all around Jesus and you might think on these words from the Gospel of John, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him.” The very one that the yearly Passover Lamb pointed to was right under their noses but they could not see Him.

Now let’s do some quick math. If Jesus, Marry and Joseph where there in Jerusalem for two days for the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb and the completion of the festival meal and then Marry and Joseph had traveled a day before they noticed Jesus was not with them, then they would have to travel a day to get back to Jerusalem and once there they looked for Him for three days before they found Jesus how many days is that?

2+1+1+3 = 7 Days which happens to be the length of the celebration of Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread: Jesus was there for the perfect amount of time for the Feast in His Father’s house, the Temple. Now as we know from Scripture Jesus had been there before He was twelve years old, He went every year with His family and He hadn’t stayed the full seven days before so what made that year notable? He didn't do this when He was 8 or 10 years old, what changed? Around the age of twelve something happened for Jewish boys of that time, the apron strings were cut and they were able to join the men, they no longer traveled with the women in the caravan and they were truly becoming adults. While many twelve and thirteen year olds (and even younger sometimes these days) like to think of themselves as adults we as a society don’t see them that way. For Jesus He was at the point of making this transition from the world of children into the world of men. Yet even in this new found autonomy Jesus still kept the 4th Commandment honouring His mother and father: both His Heavenly Father and His adoptive father Joseph.[3]    

Today’s Gospel says that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man,” apart from that we don’t have much information about Jesus’ childhood life; but what we have here is an account of how Jesus approached the tightrope of competing vocational responsibilities. As the only Begotten Son of God His Heavenly Father Jesus had to be about His Father Business, as He was in the Temple that Passover, and at the same time He needed to honour His mother the Virgin Mary and His adoptive father her husband Joseph. We see this in how Jesus didn’t refuse to return to Nazareth, He didn’t demand to stay in the Temple. He Honoured His Heavenly Father during those days at the Temple and then when the time was complete He returned to Nazareth likewise fulfilling the 4th Commandment, all the while knowing that in the fullness of time He would enter into His public Ministry at which point He would need to be focused on the Will of God His Father. Even in those days, when Joseph had presumably departed in the faith to his eternal rest, Jesus still needed to care for His mother.

Which leads us to the Passover to end all Passovers, when Jesus the very Lamb of God, on that first Good Friday, hung upon the cross of His crucifixion, the Blood of the Lamb of God smeared on the wooden posts of the cross and at His feet the Virgin Mary, His Mother, stood weeping for her son; the same son she found in the Temple that day when Jesus was still only twelve years old where she would have wept tears of joy. As Jesus fulfilled His Heavenly Father’s Will, His Own will – as Jesus said ‘He and the Father were, are and ever shall be one,’[4] even in those moments Jesus kept the 4th Commandment and honoured His mother Mary “when Jesus saw His mother and the disciple [John] standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple [John] took [Mary] to his own home.”[5] Even in death Jesus was taking care of the needs of His mother. 

Unlike Jesus we fail to faultlessly honour, serve and obey, love and cherish our parents, as we likewise fail to faultlessly honour, serve and obey, love and cherish our Heavenly Father, we fall into sin. Christ was faithful even as a child and because of His faithfulness and the shedding of His innocent Blood unto death on the cross we have forgiveness. Turn to Him for that forgiveness and even if your parents are long gone and have entered into their eternal rest in Christ it does not mean you are free from following the 4th Commandment, the requirement to honour parents extends to the authorities that God has given us.[6] At times this can be a great challenge regardless of our age. Remember picture our Psalm from today paints for us, a picture of one who has learned from God the Father and in His learning has gained wisdom, this too was fulfilled in Christ Jesus.[7] Continue to grow in your knowledge and faithfulness as a Christian and remember Jesus is our childhood pattern and we, regardless of our age, are children of our Heavenly Father, so Jesus is our childhood pattern for our whole life in Him. There is no failure so great that you cannot ask for forgiveness, no sin too large that the Blood of the Lamb of God will not wash it away and save you from everlasting death. This you have in Christ Jesus who was the perfect child and the perfect man, faultless in every way; who died in your place taking upon Himself the wages of sin, what your sin earned, that you would have forgiveness. Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Luke 1:1-9:50 Concordia Commentary by Arthur A. Just Jr. Concordia Publishing House, Pg 129.
[2] John 1:29
[3] The Small Catechism: The Fourth Commandment Honour your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honour them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
[4] John 10:30
[5] John 19:26-27
[6] Romans 13:1
[7] Psalm 119:97-104

Photo Credits: Bird on a Wire Main Photo by Taylor Brandon from Unsplash; Stones from the Temple in Jerusalem (Detail) by Sergio Rodriguez - Portugues del Olmo from Unsplash; Wadi Qelt Between Jericho and Jerusalem (Detail) by Nour Tayeh from Unsplash; Spices in the market of the Old City in Jerusalem (Detail) by Christian Burri from Unsplash; Lambs by Julian Hochgesang from Unsplash; Jesus by Duncan Kidd from Unsplash; Jesus and Joseph Stained Glass (Detail) by Josh Applegate from Unsplash; Jesus Crucifixion (Detail) by Pavel Nekoranec from Unsplash; and a Symbol of Jesus a Lily by YFNPhilip (Bob Dobolina) from LutheranStockPhotos.