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Epiphany 1 – Luke 2:41-52

by pastorjuhl ~ January 6th, 2012

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            What Child is this, indeed! Mary treasures all the words and deeds said and done about her Child, yet she is quick to scold Jesus after He disappears for three days. Mary and Joseph find their Son 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. No surprise here, right? For His earthly parents it’s a big surprise, one perhaps they were not ready to believe.

What is the surprise: the fact that Mary and Joseph did not understand that Jesus was about His Father’s business in the temple? Or is it that Jesus seemingly is disobedient to His earthly parents by slipping away to the temple instead of being with His parents and their family? Could it be that Jesus is only now finding out why He has become Man? Perhaps, but what about the fact that He has two natures: human and divine? You would think He knows why He is here. So what’s with all the questions? What is the surprise?

The surprise is Jesus “abandoning” His earthly parents in order to go to church. Normally it’s the other way around. Parents abandon their children at church. They show up for the important events: a baptism, a confirmation, a Christmas program to hear their child “say their piece”, a wedding, or a funeral. The rest of the time mom and dad drop off the kids at the front door, go do something else for an hour, then come back to pick them up just before Divine Service begins.

Children see more of the Lord’s house than their parents do. Even though they might only see the basement where Sunday School is located, it’s more than mom and dad usually see. At least they’ve done their part. The Sunday School teacher gives the kids a little old time religion. The Vacation Bible School teachers reinforce what they learned in Sunday School. After a while, the children are old enough to realize this is all kids stuff. Soon they will be confirmed and join mom and dad doing something else on Sunday morning. Christian education is now complete. They know enough about Jesus to be dangerous. They know enough to enter eternal life with their “get out of hell free” card. They have done their time.

Perhaps you think it’s unfair to use Jesus as an example of how to bring up a child in the Christian faith. After all, Jesus has two natures: human and divine. He automatically knows everything about His Father in heaven. He is exempted from going to synagogue or temple. He is a know-it-all. Not so. Jesus had to “learn His catechism,” so to speak. Otherwise, He would not be submissive to [His parents.] Jesus went to synagogue with Mary and Joseph. He heard the Law and the Prophets. He learned about the family of God as other children and adults learned. Though our blessed Lord is omniscient, He still increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Psalm 122 begins, I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” If only you could eavesdrop on what Christ is asking the teachers. It’s Passover and the Son of God is learning, while asking questions concerning what will soon happen. As a human being, He learns about what it means to be human. He was hungry. He thirsted. He played. He helped mom and dad around the house. Now He asks questions not only to learn, but also to teach both Him and the teachers. Evidently, He asked all the right questions and contributed to the conversation. All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. If there is one thing that should not surprise you, it’s the fact that Jesus leaves His parents to be in the temple. That’s where He belongs. That’s where you belong too.

Today’s Old Testament reading is the priests bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the house of the Lord for the first time. When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the Lord. Remember Christmas morning when you heard the reading from Exodus when the כבוד יהוה filled the tabernacle? The same thing happens today, only in the permanent home…for now.

Today, כבוד יהוה is a twelve-year-old Boy about His Father’s business for Mary and Joseph’s sake, for the teachers’ sake, and for your sake too. Though He grows in wisdom and stature as a Man, He is eternal Wisdom. He is the Lord’s Christ, yet the Lord’s Christ grows in wisdom about Himself as a Child. This is an Epiphany that makes you shake your head along with those who hear Him learn and speak.

His Father’s business is for this Child to grow up into a Man in order to be forsaken by all, including His own heavenly Father, to pay for your sins. Jesus “gets lost” in order that He might be found learning and speaking about the greater Passover yet to come; where He is the innocent Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world. No wonder Mary and Joseph find Him in the temple. The temple is where all the action is. The temple is where the sacrifice for sin takes place. Soon the embodied Temple fulfills everything that happens in the brick and mortar temple. The Temple is a circumcised twelve-year-old boy from Nazareth by way of Bethlehem and Egypt that goes by the Name of Jesus, just as the angels told Mary and Joseph.

Why would anyone not want to be found in the place where His glory dwells? He dwells not in a cloud or in a pillar of fire. He is located in His Word. He is located in means like water, bread, and wine. His Word makes you grow in wisdom and stature among men and in righteousness, peace, and joy that comes from above. As the carol says,

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

 Treasure Christ and His Gifts above all things and you will be found with His Father for all eternity.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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