January 3, 2010 — Second Sunday after Christmas
“Jesus Knows Who He Is” — Pastor Lassman
Listen to the sermon with the player below, or, download. (Right Click)
My Fellow Redeemed in Christ,
If it wasn’t for Luke we would know nothing about Jesus between his birth and the beginning of his public ministry at the age of thirty. For only Luke tells us the story about the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple. This story certainly reminds us that Jesus was a child who grew up. And think about Mary and Joseph. How much did they understand? They both certainly knew about Jesus’ unusual conception and birth as well as what God told them about their child. So then our text is unique. Only Luke tells us this story. And as we look at this story we see that already at the age of twelve “Jesus knows who he is”.
I. It’s clear from our text that Jesus is a human being and yet he knows that he is different.
A. Of course, he is a human being just like us. That’s rather obvious as we are told that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom…and increased with wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” yes Jesus was just like us except for one way: he didn’t have any sin as the author of Hebrews says: we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are and yet was without sin” (4:15, NIV). Paul says the same thing in his second letter to the Corinthians: “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us” (5: 21, NIV). But other than having no sin…Jesus was a real human being like us. This is very important for he could not be our savior unless he was like us. Why? Because he came to take our place and do for us what we can not do for ourselves: save us from sin and death. In other words, Jesus came to be our substitute, our representative before God. Before Jesus came animals were used as substitutes for people….but animals can never really be substitutes for people. By offering animal sacrifices, which God commanded, the people were reminded of their sin and that this animal was dying in their place. But of course, the death of animals could not take away sin. And so the animals also pointed to the coming of the messiah who would die for sin. So when Jesus came to be baptized by john, john referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (john 1: 29, NIV). So to take our place as our substitute Jesus had to be a real human being just like us as we heard Paul say a few moments ago: “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us” (5: 21, NIV). And where was Jesus in our text? The temple. And what took place in the temple? Animal sacrifices. And twenty-one years later he would be sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world, for your sins and mine.
B. But Luke shows us that Jesus is also more than human. He is God. Jesus’ family had come to Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover which celebrated God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt by Moses. In those days people traveled in large numbers with family and friends to be safe from highway bandits. And so when they all left Jerusalem it seems that Mary and Joseph assumed that Jesus was with other family or friends. And they were alarmed when they couldn’t find him. So they returned to Jerusalem and after searching for three days finally found him in the temple. I am sure that most parents, and certainly mothers, can relate to the concern of both Mary and Joseph. They could not find him for three days. I am sure they were concerned for Jesus’ safety and welfare. Did they start to think the worst? And you can imagine how over three days their anxiety would have grown. And so we can understand Mary when she said to Jesus: “son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” up to this point perhaps we are on the side of the parents, Mary and Joseph, because we can identify with their concern for their son. But I think this changes once we hear the answer Jesus gives: “why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?” with just one sentence Jesus changes the whole situation. Jesus is not to blame….Mary and Joseph should have known that he would be in the temple. And here’s where we see Jesus as God. The father he is referring to is clearly not Joseph, who was a carpenter. Where was he? The temple. Who dwelt in the temple? God. The temple was God’s house. Jesus is calling God his father. Joseph was Jesus’ stepfather. Jesus had no human father. God is Jesus’ father. And now we have entered into the mystery of the trinity: Father, Son…and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the second person of the triune God sent by his father to become man and conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the holy spirit. All three persons of the triune God were involved in Christmas. The God who dwelt in the temple took up a new temple with the body of Jesus. And so when Jesus died twenty-one years later a mere man did not die….but God in human form died. God died for the sins of the world, your sins and mine. How much did Jesus know at this time? I don’t know. But clearly he knew who he was.
II. And even at the age of twelve he wasa doing the work of our savior.
A. We see this in his concern for God’s word. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple discussing God’s word with the rabbi’s. In those days theology was discussed in a conversational style…..by asking and answering questions….much like our catechism classes with our twelve and thirteen year olds here at messiah. And upon reflection I think it would be a bit challenging to have Jesus in class…. Indeed, these theologically sophisticated rabbis .”…were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” But this would not be the last time that people were amazed at his teaching as we read in Matthew’s gospel: “when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching….” (7:29, NIV). Indeed, as God in human form….Jesus knew what he was talking about. Jesus spoke only the words that his father wanted him to speak as he says in john’s gospel: “for he who God sent utters the words of God” (3:34). In john 17 he prays to his heavenly father: “for I have given them the words that you gave me…” (17:8, ESV). Which brings us back to our text. Where was he? In his father’s house. And what was he doing? Speaking his father’s words. And this is why we listen to Jesus too. We believe he speaks the very words of God. We can trust what he says…he will never lie to us but also speak the truth. And we too are amazed…and this is why we want to come to this house of God to hear his word again and again.
B. And yet there is something else amazing in our text besides the teaching of Jesus. Luke tells us: “and he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” see what I mean? Did you get it? Who is Jesus? The Son of God. God in human form. And yet we are told that he was “submissive” to Mary and Joseph. But when you think about it…we should not be surprised. Remember? He had no sin. Remember he came to be our substitute and to do his father’s will. And his father’s will included the fourth commandment: “honor your father and your mother.” So God in human form submitted to his parents. Of course, we sinful human beings don’t like to submit to anyone. We see this early in the life of children. First it’s called the “terrible twos” and then later we call them “teenagers”. Of course we men don’t like the idea of submitting to anyone as we see it as challenge to our male ego seeing everything in the context of power and control. Of course, women have their own issues with submitting to their husbands. Not one of us likes the idea of submission. And yet, Jesus, God in human form, submits to his parents. And again we are back to the idea that he is our substitute. He came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus took our place under God’s
Law to keep it for us so that when we believe in him we get credit for his holy life. Everything Jesus did…he did for us…as our substitute to save us from sin and death and God’s wrath. And it is because of him that we have been, as Paul says in our second lesson, “adopted as sons.” Jesus is the son of God, God’s son from all eternity. And when we believe in him we become sons of God, children of God…adopted into God’s family and Jesus’ father becomes our father. And that’s why we too come to his house.
Conclusion: perhaps the best way to end this sermon is to do what Mary did: “and his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” Yes, Jesus is truly amazing. What he says. And what he does. Truly our heart is the appropriate place to keep these things. Amen.