Sermon, Sunday Dec 30th, 2018 – 1st Sunday after Christmas
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival 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 travelled 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?”[a] 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 favour with God and man.
Whose business are you about mostly these days, and what has this special boy got to do with it? That is my question to myself and you today.
Another year is coming. Business, education, farming, caring, working, saving, holiday making, planning retirement, planning school subjects, university or gap year….That is the business on the agenda of your life. Where is this special boy and his Father in all your business?
We know the boy was special. We have just remembered all that happened at his birth.
There were angles singing, Herod frightened, Wise men wondering, Shepherds gazing, John the Baptist calling, Elizabeth and Zachariah rejoicing, Mary pondering all this in her heart. He interrupted the business of their lives and made their lives centre on God’s business.
We know the boy was special. We know his Father sent him and has some serious business to do on planet earth and in my life.
Luke gives us just a glimpse of a teenage Jesus. He is still special 10 years or so on from his birth.
Jesus has real business to learn as he is in the business of growing up. He has this concern, this interest, this drive, this shape to him that is unusual among people his age. Jesus, the young lad is consumed by Someone and Something.
This shape ends up getting him trouble one day.
While he is where he wants to be dicing it with the people he finds fascinating (and they him) in the temple, his family is already on the road heading home from the city after the festival.
After assuming the teenager was somewhere among the relatives and friends heading back home to Nazareth, they finally realise that the boy is not with them.
When you find him do you hug the boy or get stuck into him about ‘growing up’ and ‘taking responsibility’!?
I can imagine a bit of both! The anger turns to relief and joy when after having to back track all the way to the city, they finally track down Jesus in the temple with all the bearded men talking theology – as if nothing has happened!
You can tell that Luke wants us to know that the young man is that same baby of promise who came to do God’s serious business, and the business for which he came is on track.
This Father’s business of being in the world to save the world, in your life to save your life, in your face to shine God’s light and love upon you is on track.
This deep need to dwell in the Word of God and be in his Father’s presence, around the holy things of God and the people of God will mark this young man’s life. Will it mark yours in 2019?
Later on, he will come back to this same temple and clear it of trading tables and money exchange booths in pure zeal for “my Father’s house”. You can hear even here when he is so young, ‘church’ is not really the building or the stuff in it so much as a Father’s home in which he, the child, is at home – really ‘at home’. He calls church, “his own Father’s house”. Will God’s Word, done and said in his community gathered, be your heavenly Father’s house and your home in 2019?
Luke tells us what happens as the dust settles on this particular snapshot in time. Mary does her wonderful “pondering all these things in her heart” and;
52 …Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
That is what being in God’s presence around his Word and his gifts with his people does for us all. It helps us grow in on three ways.
WISDOM: As it was for the young Jesus, so for us: the Word of God grows us in the wisdom of God.
The business of our Father begins with a respectful heart for the things of God, the Word of God and the people of God.
“Fear of the Lord is the beginning point of all wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10).
STATURE: Jesus grew in stature –“ place”, “understanding” of God and the world, “knowledge”, “awareness”….
With a heart centred on the Word of Jesus we get changed. Why? Because the Word of God is a force, a power and spiritual reality that shapes a person and creates the very things we need to be in order to be a fuller, more complete more aware, more understanding, person.
Jesus says as much when he is beyond these young years;
“The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:10)
FAVOUR: With God and people.
Jesus grows into favour with God and with other people.
Like a young woman on the rise in business or a young student who works hard and earns good results, our respect for them grows and our encouragement flows.
This has happened before. Remember the young Samuel also in his Father’s house – centred on the Word and the holy things and the humility to hear and receive whatever the Lord had in store for him?
And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people. (1 Samuel 2:26)
With a heart open to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit does call me, shape me, and give me a part to play in his mission community called the local church serving the world.
How will this happen for you, for me, for us in 2019? Will it be by keeping so busy with the business of my life that my business way overshadows our Father’s business in time and priority? No. I think we know that.
As we have our hearts set on the love of our heavenly Father in the shape of his Son, our Saviour Jesus, this will come out of us in everything we are and do and then we will grow God’s way – in genuine love, faithful serving, joy even in our suffering.
Our Father’s business is to draw all people into his loving embrace by repentance of all that separates us from him and the receiving of all his grace toward us. It is our business too.
How we will go about our Father’s business in 2019?
Same way God’s people have been in the family business of the Kingdom for ages…
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)
What will be your main business in 2019?
The young Jesus and the gospel-writer Luke are saying;
Let him rule in our hearts that are full of thankfulness for everything we receive from his hand.
Let his peace rule in your relationships – practice forgiveness. Say it. Do it. Mean it.
Share the word, share life in the word, share the experiences God gives with each other, including the teens and the little kids. Receive his Word said and done in song and liturgy and proclaiming
Sing. Sing your faith a lot.
Pray to your Father. Pray all the time for people – known or not.
That’s the business of a gospel man, woman, young person, child. That is our business as a church in 2019: our Father’s business.