Friday, 30 October 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 2v41-52 'Who is the Father?'

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?’ 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.

Luke doesn’t include this incident as an example of how not to parent, there is no criticism of Mary of Joseph’s parenting. We have to be careful when we read the Bible not read our generation’s problems and concerns back into Luke.  This incident is here because Luke wants us to look at something. (1:4) Luke writes so that Theophilus may “know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” So that he may know and live in the light of who Jesus is. And Luke’s gospel is the evidence he has collected to prove who Jesus is.

1. What does the evidence say?

So far in chapters 1 and 2 Luke has shown that Jesus as a baby is the result of God’s promises made throughout history. John the Baptist is a sign of who he is, Jesus birth and the declaration by the angels, Simeon and Anna’s declarations concerning him all give us more evidence, more pieces of the jigsaw. This is the Messiah, God’s long promised Saviour who comes to bring peace, to speak and act on God’s behalf.

When Luke wrote there were lots of competing ideas about who Jesus was, in fact that is Theophilus’ problem, who is Jesus? Is he really the Messiah, or is he a fraud? Was he just a prophet or is he more than that?  Here in this account Luke is gives more evidence of who Jesus is:

I just want to go back one verse to (40) “And the child [that’s Jesus] grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Now just glance at the last verse we read (52). It says the same thing. Jesus grows as a normal child but there is more to his development, there is a special relationship with God, and in the Bible when you find bookends like that you usually find the explanation in the verses in between.

(41) He is the son of pious parents. Parents who make the 80 mile journey with friends and family to keep the Passover in Jerusalem to celebrate God’s saving his people. Parents who stay for the whole festival (43) all 7 days of it. Parents who love God and obey him, encouraging their son to do the same.

(42) Gives us an important piece of information. Jesus was 12 years old, now that doesn’t mean much to us. But a twelve year old was viewed as being young, still a child, not responsible for his own religious commitments. It makes what follows all the more amazing. When his frantic parents finally find him, where is he and what is he doing? (46) He is “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

As unusual as that is the next verse is even more amazing; “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and at his answers.” This is no ordinary twelve year old, this is like a twelve year old sat discussing quantum mechanics and its applications with professors from Oxford. The everyone in that verse includes the teachers, those whose job it was, who had devoted their lives to, studying the Torah – their Bible – and asking and answering such questions and yet here they are amazed at this 12 year olds answers.

In Luke that word amazed describes the wonder of people when they see an action associated with God’s presence. Why are the people amazed? Because this twelve year old asks, understands and answers things about God like no one else. Why? Because he is favoured by God.

And then there is the reaction of his parents “When his parents saw him, they were astonished.” They are left wondering, amazed and astonished at Jesus and asking the question who is he?

What does the evidence say? Jesus is no ordinary boy, he already knows a lot about God, and he has a special relationship with God.

2. Who does Jesus say he is?

But actually what others think of Jesus is not the most important thing.  Jesus has no doubts. Verse 49 is the key verse in this chapter, it contains the first words that Jesus speaks in Luke’s gospel; “Why were you searching for me?” he asked “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house.”

That is an amazing claim to make. Jesus expected his parents to have worked out where he would be, as if it would be obvious that a twelve year old boy would be in the temple. “I had to be in my Father’s house”, not kicking a ball about with his mates, or at the local swimming hole, or in Joseph’s carpenters shop, but in the temple.

Jesus is making an astonishing claim here. He is saying the temple is his Father’s house. Now that was not normal language for a Jew, Jesus is claiming to have a special relationship with God. He knows his place and his standing with God. What were the words the angel said to Mary? “[He] will be called the Son of God.”

And here is Jesus acknowledging that is who he is, God is his Father, he is God the Son, that’s why he is favoured by God. But there is more to it than just that, Jesus is saying that he has to be about his Father’s business that is why he is in the temple discussing and questioning about God. He is God’s Son on God’s mission, whose job is to reveal God. Whose priority is to be about his God’s business, to obey his Father.

Who does Jesus say he is? The Son of God, come to reveal God and on God’s mission, a mission that means he is God’s salvation come to “enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.”

Now that leaves us like Theophilus with two possibilities; either Jesus is right or he is wrong.

If Jesus is wrong then either he is deliberately lying in which case he is the worst sort of liar, a con man. But a con man who dies for what he knows to be a lie? Or he is deluded, he believes himself to be the Son of God when he isn’t, he is a lunatic, but his moral teaching does not sound like the words of a deluded man.

Or the other alternative is that he is who he claims to be, he is God’s Son on God’s mission to save, he is Lord. A mission to bring “peace on earth to those on whom God’s favour rests”.
As we continue to go through Luke we’ll see Jesus actions and words, more evidence, that provide further proof of who Jesus claims to be, as you see him heal the sick, raise the dead, and forgive sin. Jesus is God’s Son on God’s mercy mission, to save the lost, showing us what it would be like to live in a world where we were all at peace with God. Where we didn’t ignore God and want to rule our own lives. Jesus is who he claims to be.

3. So what?

Just look at (50-51) Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart.” That’s a phrase Luke has used of Mary already (1:66, 2:19). Mary is collecting evidence sifting it, sorting it, and working out what it means.  In chapters 1 and 2 of Luke as he writes to show Theophilus the evidence for Jesus being the Saviour of the world, the one who comes to die in our place, for our rebellion there are those who recognise who Jesus is; the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and others like Mary and Joseph who are astonished at what they see.  The big question Luke wants Theophilus to answer is who does he say Jesus is?

And actually as we look at Luke that is the big question we all need to answer. Who do I say Jesus is?  Why does it matter? Because if he is who he claims to be then I need to find out what he says. If he is the Son of God then his words may be the most important words you ever hear.

Words that warn, words that teach, and words that offer us peace, an end to rebellion and a relationship with God. Words that, if you accept Jesus is who he claims to be, become the most important words in your life changing the way you live.

Jesus is different; he has a special relationship with God, why? Because he claims he is God’s Son on God’s mission to save us. Who do you say Jesus is? And what difference does it make?

No comments: