TEXT: LUKE 2:40-52
Vicar Christopher Stout

Can you imagine the pain that Joseph felt --  can you imagine the panic that crept over Mary those three days that they were searching for the 12 year old boy Jesus?  Any loving parent can partially emphasize with this feeling.  Mary and Joseph felt as if they had lost their son.  Jerusalem was a city of a couple hundred thousand during regular times of the year, but during the feast of the Passover, the population grew exponentially as pilgrims from all over the world traveled to the Holy City.  This wasn’t an “I lost my child for a few minutes in the grocery store feeling”, this was an “I’ve lost my child and I may never find him again” feeling.  Can you imagine the pain these parents felt?  Add to this the sense of responsibility and burden that these parents bore as they knew who this boy, Jesus, was.  He will save His people from their sins, they were told.  He’s Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor.  God had chosen Mary, fully by grace, to give birth to, and be a mother to, the very Son of God. 

TEXT: LUKE 2:40-52
Vicar Christopher Stout

Can you imagine the pain that Joseph felt --  can you imagine the panic that crept over Mary those three days that they were searching for the 12 year old boy Jesus?  Any loving parent can partially emphasize with this feeling.  Mary and Joseph felt as if they had lost their son.  Jerusalem was a city of a couple hundred thousand during regular times of the year, but during the feast of the Passover, the population grew exponentially as pilgrims from all over the world traveled to the Holy City.  This wasn’t an “I lost my child for a few minutes in the grocery store feeling”, this was an “I’ve lost my child and I may never find him again” feeling.  Can you imagine the pain these parents felt?  Add to this the sense of responsibility and burden that these parents bore as they knew who this boy, Jesus, was.  He will save His people from their sins, they were told.  He’s Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor.  God had chosen Mary, fully by grace, to give birth to, and be a mother to, the very Son of God.  God had chosen Joseph as the Son of God’s adoptive father, to protect and provide for Him.  Parents may often feel overwhelmed by responsibilities laid on them from their children; can you imagine the responsibility that was laid on Mary and Joseph to raise the very Son of God?  And now, they had lost him.  He was gone. 

Many may wonder today how they could lose Jesus.  It was common to travel in caravans or groups for long journeys.  Groups and caravans would offer protection from highway attacks that were a common occurrence (think of the parable of Good Samaritan).  It would also offer aid to those ill.  They would travel differing speeds and meet up at a chosen spot at the end of a day’s journey to rest.  At the appointed meeting spot, Jesus was nowhere to be found.  Their pain and worry-filled search lasted three days, but more likely felt like 3 years.  Can you imagine the sense of responsibility that they felt?

Dear Christian, as we consider the pain and sorrow that Mary and Joseph felt, I invite you to consider the pain and sorrow another Father felt.  God the Father forsook His Son.  No Father could love His Son any more.  No Son could ever love a Father any more. God the Father sent His Son to redeem the world from sin and death.  In order to redeem the world from sin, the Father placed His entire righteous wrath on His own Son.  In order to redeem the world from the curse of death, God the Father had to place His Son under a more potent curse by forsaking His Son on the cross of Calvary.  Can you imagine the pain the Father felt?  Can you imagine the sorrow this caused Him?

Why must Jesus leave Mary and Joseph and cause so much pain and sorrow to his parents while He remains in Jerusalem.  Why must Jesus bear the sin of the world and be forsaken by the Father?  And when his parents saw Him, they were astonished.  And His mother said, “Son why have you treated us so?  Behold your Father and I have been looking for 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?” 

During this Christmas season, we are often led to picture the Son of God as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, needing His diapers changed.  What a miracle that is.  This text, however, leads us to wonder at the miracle of God in the flesh at the age of 12 years old.  Even at this age, Jesus knows where He must be.  But [His parents] did not understand the saying that He spoke to them. 

How often we misunderstand what our Lord speaks to us!  How often we are led to question why a God of power and might must die for the sake of the world!  If we fail to consider our sins, then we fail to consider why our Lord must bear those sins.  If we do not recognize the punishment we deserve from God Himself, we will not recognize why the Son must be forsaken by the Father.  

As Mary and Joseph were seeking Jesus in all the wrong places, so do we often seek Jesus in all the places except where He is promised to be found.  We may seek God in our emotions – banking on the feeling of God’s presence and His love to be equated with the feeling of happiness or security.  “God is with me because I feel like God is with me” or “God isn’t with me because of the suffering that I am feeling.”  Many seek God in human reason and demand that God give them evidence, evidence, evidence for His existence or His goodness.  We may feel high and mightier than those “type” of people, but we are often never too far away from saying “If it doesn’t make sense to me, God, then you must not be the author of it.”  In times of trouble, Satan tempts us to turn to every place to seek God except where He is promised to be.  If we fail to consider our sins, then we fail to consider why our Lord must bear those sins.   

The Scriptures teach us only this one narrative about Jesus’ boyhood and it teaches that He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to [His parents].  The Lord of life was submissive to the mother who bore Him and the father who raised Him.  Learn from your Maker to be submissive to your mother and father and all authorities that He has placed you in His creative order – the law in your country, your employers, your pastors, your teachers, your elders (except when you must obey God rather than man).  These sins deserve eternal punishment.  If we do not recognize the punishment we deserve from God Himself, we will not recognize why the Son must be forsaken by the Father. 

Can you imagine the pain and worry that Mary and Joseph felt those three days while searching for Jesus?  Can you imagine the pain and sorrow the Father felt as He forsook the Son?  Do you not know that it was necessary to be in my Father’s house, Jesus says.  It was necessary for Him to be in the Father’s house, the temple, where all the sacrifices for sin that happened pointed to the one sacrifice for your sin of prideful lack of submissiveness and your sin of seeking God in the wrong places and your sin of not seeking Him when in trouble or in praise, and all your sins that weigh you down.  Because Jesus knew what was necessary, you have peace – you are forgiven.  You, my child, have favor with God. 

In distress and worry, when guilty and burdened, there’s no need to be searching for Jesus anymore, for He is found where He must be.  He is found in His Church, He must be here, because He has promised to be here.  He is present to forgive here in His Words that give what they declare to you: “I forgive you”.  He is present and found as He feeds you His life-giving body and life-giving blood.  He is present where He is promised to be.  He must be.
Can you imagine the pain and worry that Mary and Joseph felt those three days while searching for Jesus?  Can you imagine the pain and sorrow the Father felt as He forsook the Son?  Do you not know that it was necessary to be in my Father’s house?  How often we don’t understand why it is necessary.  Thanks be to God that Jesus does!

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