Epiphany One Sermon
January 9, 2005
St. Luke 2:41-52
ďWhere is Jesus?Ē
Mary did not know where
Jesus was. She did not know where to look for Him. Thatís why she didnít know where He was.
He was her own Son Ė her own flesh and blood Ė but even the
closest maternal bond could not tell her where to find Jesus.
She assumed that Jesus would be
found among friends. Well,
Jesus has always had friends. Folks
naturally gravitate toward those who are kind and full of compassion.
Imagine living with a boy who grows up without sinning!
Every mother knows her childrenís faults.
Mary didnít. Perhaps
she thought Jesus had been inconsiderate to her and to Joseph by not
telling them where He was. If
so, she was wrong. He most
certainly was considering her.
He was considering all of us. Thatís why He was in the temple, listening to the teachers
of Godís word and asking them questions.
He was learning from the Holy Scriptures what the Feast of the
Passover would require of Him. He
was, after all, the fulfillment of the Passover.
He was the Passover Lamb. The
Angel of Death passed over the homes where the blood of the Passover
Lamb was painted on the doorposts.
The promised Savior would shed His blood and the Angel of Death
would pass over those covered by His blood.
Moses led the Israelites into freedom by the miraculous crossing
of the Red Sea. The
promised Savior would lead His Israel into the freedom of the
forgiveness of sins. He
would bear their sin. He
would suffer its full weight and penalty.
As the enemies of Israel were drowned in the Red Sea at the
original Passover, so our enemies Ė sin, death, and the power of the
devil Ė are drowned in Holy Baptism.
Jesus was learning how to be the
Savior of the world. That
was His Fatherís business. That
was the reason He remained in the temple after the others left for home.
Mary should have known where to find Jesus, but she didnít.
And even when Jesus told her, she didnít understand.
But in not understanding, she didnít reject Her Sonís words.
She kept them in her heart.
Jesus was a dutiful Son.
He obeyed His mother and Joseph.
He submitted to their authority.
He did so as no other son has ever done. He wasnít impatient when told to do His daily chores.
He did what He was told when He was told without complaint.
He did more than what He was told to do, doing whatever need to
be done without having to be told.
He was the perfect Son.
He was the perfect Son of His
mother. He was also the
perfect Son of His Father in heaven.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He was a holy Child. Who
was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary?
The One who is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God
is the One who for us men, and for our salvation, was incarnate by the
Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
He obeyed His mother. God
obeyed man. Yes!
He who gave the holy law and to whom all people must give an
account gave account of Himself to His mother and submitted to her
authority. God obeyed man,
as Jesus submitted to Mary and Joseph.
And man obeyed God.
All that Jesus did He did as both true God and true man.
There is only one Jesus and this one Jesus is our God and our
brother. When Jesus grew up
into manhood, He hid His deity under the covering of sincere and dutiful
humility. He did not appeal
to His equality with His Father in heaven to avoid submitting to the
authority of His mother. He
lived a perfectly humble and obedient life.
He submitted to His Father in heaven.
He submitted to His mother on earth.
He did so in order to fulfill the law for us all vicariously Ė
as our substitute.
In submitting to His Father in
heaven, He was where His mother did not think to look for Him.
Thatís amazing, but true.
Itís a lesson to us. Mary
did not know where Jesus was. Think
of it! Simeon told her that
a soul would pierce her soul, but she didnít understand.
Anna told her that her Son would bring redemption to Jerusalem,
but she didnít understand. She
was raised celebrating the Passover, but she didnít understand.
She conceived this Child, bore Him, fed Him, cared for Him, and
loved Him, but she didnít understand why Jesus had to be in the
temple, being engaged in His Fatherís business.
A motherís love isnít good
enough. Itís good. Itís
a treasure to give and a treasure to receive.
But itís not enough. We
must know where Jesus is. Mary
loved her Son as much as any mother ever loved a son, but her love was
insufficient. A motherís
love does not know where Jesus is.
We need to listen to Jesus because His mother doesnít know.
He tells us that He must be about His Fatherís business.
He must be in His Fatherís house.
The temple was the meeting place
between a holy God and sinful people.
Jesus is the meeting place between God and sinners.
Jesus is the temple. He
is the way to the Father. As
in thy cross are centered all the marvels of thy grace;
We Christians are much like
Mary, the mother of our Lord. We
love Jesus. We fret over
His apparent absence from us. At
times we think Heís left us. And
we look for Him in the wrong places.
We should look for Him where He has told us to look for Him.
After telling His disciples to
preach the gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, He promised to be with
them always. We should never wonder where Jesus is. He is where His baptism is.
He is where His gospel is. He
is where His Supper is. Wherever
these means of salvation are there Jesus is.
The wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem, where the Bible said He would be. We donít find Him there. He left Bethlehem and went to Nazareth. The Bible said He would be a Nazarene. But we donít find Jesus in Nazareth. He left there and He went to Jerusalem, not just as a twelve year old boy when He learned what was required of Him, but as a thirty three year old man. Outside Jerusalem, He shed His blood on the cross to become the temple, the place where the holy God meets sinners like you and me and forgives us. There on Calvary, Jesus washed away all our sin and thereby removed from us Godís anger. There He removed what kept us away from God. He removed our sin by taking it upon Himself. But we donít find Jesus on Calvary. Heís not there. He died and rose from the dead. But we wonít find Him outside the tomb. Heís not there. He ascended into heaven. But we go to heaven to find Him because weíre here. Here we will remain until the day we die, unless Jesus returns first to take us home to heaven.
Meanwhile, we need to find
Jesus because we need Him. Where
should we look? Should we
look for Jesus in our prayers? After
all, Jesus has invited us to pray and has promised that our Father in
heaven will hear our prayers that are offered in Jesusí name.
He most certainly will keep His promises to us.
But when we pray to God in the name of Jesus, do we hear God
reply? Some people think
they do. They get a feeling
or they hear a voice. Then
they say that they have found Jesus.
But often itís just their imagination.
They heard what they wanted to hear.
Where can we look for Jesus and know without any doubt that we
have found Him?
We go to our baptism. We claim what God in Holy Baptism gave to us. Jesus says that in Holy Baptism we are born again and enter into Godís kingdom. So we face our own sins and we face the doubts that come from our own sins. After all (our conscience will argue) if we were really Christians weíd live like Christians and we havenít and so are we really children of God? Have we argued for the sake of our own pride and to put the other down? Have we lied to people who trusted in us for the truth? Have we despised Godís word? Have we slept instead of listening to God? Have we lived lives that do not conform to Godís will but conform to the ways of the world? Have we ignored the life God gave us to live and lived for ourselves instead? We have not lived as Christians should live. So are we Christians?
In our baptism, Jesus says
yes! He invites us to find Him in Holy Baptism and to see the
baptism in which we were once washed as washing us every day, drowning
our sins every day, filling us with the Holy Spirit every day to live a
life of a Christian. You
want to find Jesus? Go to
your baptism and claim it. It
is Jesus come into your life to be your Savior, not just when you are
baptized, but throughout your entire life.
You want to find Jesus?
Listen to His holy word. Donít
come to church only when it is convenient.
Come whenever you can come.
Come with what burdens your conscience.
Bring it to God and lay it on Him.
When God speaks through a man and tells you He forgives you,
donít doubt Him. God
wonít lie to you. Jesus
had you in mind as a twelve-year-old boy in the temple.
As God, He knew everything.
But He humbled Himself and learned as a child and as a man what
He needed to do to take your burden of sin and fear and guilt off of
you. And He did it.
You want to find Jesus?
You will find Him in the Lordís Supper.
This is not a memorial meal of an absent Jesus.
No! Before Jesus
says, ďDo this, in remembrance of Me,Ē He identifies the sacramental
bread and wine with His very own body and blood.
If Jesus gives you to eat and to drink His body and blood for the
forgiveness of sins you are remembering a present Jesus who is most
certainly with you, not an absent Jesus that you cannot locate.
You know where Jesus is. He is here where His word is preached and His sacraments are administered in His name and by His authority. This is where we belong. He increased in wisdom and stature. He won praise from God and man. He gives this to us. All that He has He gives to us. So we come. We come as beggars. But He doesnít treat us as beggars. He treats us as the very children of God, for that is what He has made us to be!
Rev. Rolf D. Preus