Sermon on Luke 2:41-52
Text: Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
If you ask a mother about what her child was like when he was little, I’m sure that the mother would have many stories to tell. She might tell you about the time when they did something particularly funny. She might tell you when he said something totally out of the blue. She might describe how her daughter reacted to something that happened to her. All of these stories help us see her child and can often help us understand the grown-up child. This morning, our text tells us the only event that we have recorded from the time that Jesus, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth from Egypt to Jesus’ baptism at the age of 30. However, just as that mother’s story helps us appreciate her child, the events of Luke 2:41-52 help us see Jesus as a young man. This morning, we will study this text using Jesus’ words as our theme: “I HAD TO BE IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE.” 1. Jesus Fulfilled God’s Law. 2. Jesus Grew In The Knowledge Of God. 3. Jesus Grew In The Favor Of God.
Every year Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They made this journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem in fulfillment of God’s law. God said in Deuteronomy 16:1&2, “Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night. Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name.” Because Mary and Joseph believed, they wanted to obey God’s commands.
When Jesus became twelve or thirteen, he became a “son of the law.” This meant that he now came under all of the obligations of adult church membership. So now he, too, was required by law to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He went with Mary and Joseph and others from Nazareth to Jerusalem.
We praise God when we read that Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Why? Because it tells us that Jesus kept God’s laws perfectly. We know that we could not do so. We are unable to live up to God’s standards. Yet, God demands 100% perfection in carrying out his laws. He will accept nothing less. He allows for no small, minor infraction. God tells us in his Word that the soul who sins will die. That death is an eternity of punishment in hell. Our imperfection isn’t that hard to see. It doesn’t take long as we search our lives in the light of God’s Word to see how sinful we really are. We also see that we have deserved the eternal punishment for our sins.
However, even as a child, Jesus kept all of the Law perfectly. At times, we might overlook Jesus’ perfect life that he lived for us. We focus on his death and resurrection. However, if he had not lived a perfect life, his death and resurrection could not have saved us. Yet, we are told that the Master of all creation became a human being, and thus placed himself under the demands of God’s law. He, too, was under obligation to keep the law perfectly. Praise be to God that he succeeded where we failed. He lived a sinless life. He, then, sacrificed that perfect life on the cross, so that our sins would be paid for and we can receive the benefits of his perfect life. God took all of our sins and placed them on Jesus. He took Jesus’ perfect life and credited it to our account. Jesus paid for all of our sins and now God sees us as law-abiding citizens of his kingdom. We receive the benefits of Jesus’ perfect life in having our sins forgiven and we will receive the full benefits of this when we reach heaven. We rejoice when we read that Jesus lived a perfect life, obeying all of God’s commands. It assures us that our sins have been forgiven.
After Mary and Joseph had completed the seven days of the festival, they set out for home. They thought that Jesus was in the group that was going back to Nazareth. Yet, when it became night, they looked for Jesus, but could not find him. So, Mary and Joseph went back to Jerusalem and searched for Jesus for three days. Can you just imagine how worried they were? Likely, guilt set in as they felt the failing to keep a closer watch over the whereabouts of this son entrusted to their care by the Lord.
They finally found him in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Mary came to Jesus. We hear the anxiety in her voice, as she said, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” It appears that Mary was a bit perturbed by the whole situation.
Jesus had to remind Mary of the reason he came to this earth. He responded to her question, by asking two questions, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus was directed by a greater will, the will of his heavenly Father. Jesus said, “I had to be in my Father’s house.” Mary had to be reminded that Jesus was not an ordinary child, one over whom she had complete control. He followed the will of his heavenly Father. As the sinless Son of God, he had done nothing wrong.
During these three days, Jesus had been learning from the highest religious leaders of the land. He sat at their feet, listening to them and asking questions. Although he was the Son of God, he was still a human being. He needed to learn, as well. This, he realized, was something his heavenly Father wanted him to do. So he said, “I had to be in my Father’s house.”
A better translation of this phrase would be, “I had to be about my Father’s business.” This translation shows us that Jesus wanted to do what his Father wanted him to do, which was saving the world. This was a step along the way of completing God’s plan of salvation. He grew in the knowledge of God.
May that phrase also be on our lips. Many times, there will be things that will allure us into giving God our second best, or have a half-hearted attempt. When other people have so much, and you feel the need to keep up with them, while sacrificing your duty to God, you become distracted from the task at hand. We are tempted to go along with the crowd, and we forget what we are to be doing. My friends, may our words echo those of Jesus, “I have to be about my Father’s business.” We say these words out of love, for the love that was shown to us in sending his Son to be our Savior. When we remember who we are, we tell ourselves and others, “I have to be about my Father’s business.”
May this especially be true, as we follow Jesus’ example, as he listened to the teachers of the temple. May we make it our #1 priority to get to know our heavenly Father’s business. We learn this from his Word. God has given us many opportunities to learn from his Word. We hear it on Sunday mornings. We will have our special service on New Year’s Eve. Bible Class, Confirmation Class, and Sunday School are further opportunities. We, also, have the opportunity to read God’s Word for ourselves. In those pages, God speaks to us. The Holy Spirit works through these words to strengthen our faith and gives us the courage and the strength to face all of the difficulties that come our way. Follow Jesus’ example and grow in the knowledge of God.
After this, Jesus returned with Mary and Joseph to Nazareth. The years from that time to the time when Jesus was thirty are silent, except for a summary statement. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” While this leaves us with no details, it does again remind us of Jesus’ sinless life. This theme is repeated again and again in the Gospels. This is because, as we said earlier, it assures us that our sins have been forgiven. Jesus did not sow any wild oats in his youth or his teenage years. He was obedient to Mary and Joseph as he learned the carpenter trade. He grew and developed as any young man, “in wisdom and stature.” We are also told that he grew “in favor with God and men.” We hear of the Father’s approval at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love.” God showed his approval of all this his Son did.
So also, my friends, may we never give reason for our heavenly Father to be ashamed of us. May we live as children that a Father would be proud to call his own. Just as Jesus grew into adulthood, may we also mature in our faith, showing our knowledge of God to be deeper and our love for him stronger every day. We can only do this through the feeding of our faith with God’s Word and exercising that faith. We don’t do this to earn anything. Heaven is already ours through faith in Jesus. Rather, we do so out of love for our Father. May we grow in the favor of our heavenly Father.
There are many details lacking about Jesus’ childhood and early adulthood. Many legends have arisen from the silence. Yet, we thank God for this glimpse into Jesus’ early life. It reminds us of the fact that Jesus kept the law perfectly for us. We see his singleness of purpose as he said, “I had to be about my Father’s business.” We know that he matured as any other human being, yet was without sin. This little episode from the childhood of Jesus helps us to see Jesus as an adult. Out of love for him and thankfulness for all that he has done for us, may our theme also be “I had to be about my Father’s business.” Amen.
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