Sunday after Epiphany, 2006
Big Boy Jesus
When our children were little,
to young to read, I would read Bible stories to them and whenever we saw
the picture of Jesus as the twelve year old boy in the temple I would
point to the picture and say, ďBig Boy Jesus.Ē
They knew that Jesus had been a big boy.
The picture made that clear.
Jesus was their older brother.
In Lutherís great creedal hymn
we confess Christís incarnation in these words: made true man our
elder brother. Every little
child should look to Jesus in the temple and see his brother there.
Every big boy and girl should as well.
Every old man and woman should, too.
For in Jesusí boyhood we find our identity as children of God.
Jesus was a big boy.
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay grows up.
From the time he was an infant until the time he was thirty years
old we know very little. In fact, all we know is what is recorded in the Gospel Lesson
for this morning. Since
this is all that God has chosen to tell us about the youth of our Lord
Jesus we should pay attention.
Todayís Gospel Lesson teaches
us that Jesus was obedient to his father and mother.
St. Luke writes that he ďwas subject to them.Ē
He placed Himself under their authority.
The Fourth Commandment says:
your father and mother, that it may be well with you, and you may live
long on the earth. What
does this mean? We
should fear and love God, so that we do not despise our parents and
superiors, nor provoke them to anger, but honor, serve, obey, love and
Note the promise attached to the
Fourth Commandment: ďThat it may be well with you and you may live
long on the earth.Ē Disobedience
to the Fourth Commandment is the source of disorder, crime, and
violence. Where children
are raised by their parents to respect parental authority the
neighborhood, community, city, and country will be blessed.
People will live longer and healthier lives.
When children do not learn to respect their parents they do not
learn to respect others and so do not learn how to get along with their
neighbors. All human
authority goes back to the Fourth Commandment.
Every government instituted by men derives its authority to
govern from the Fourth Commandment.
It is not for nothing that the Holy Spirit included an account of
Jesus young life that shows how He submitted to the authority of His
parents. Commandments five through eight that teach us to respect our
neighborís life, marriage, property, and honor will all stand or fall
with the Fourth Commandment.
But the Fourth Commandment must
give way to the Third Commandment.
the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. What does this mean? We
should fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching and His
Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
When God gives us children He
requires of us that we give them back to Him.
So it was with Jesus, our big brother.
And so it must be with us.
Jesus came from the Father.
As we confess, He was ďbegotten of the Father before all
worlds.Ē He was God from
eternity. When He became a
man He did not cease to be God. He
did not lose any divine power. As
God He knew everything there is to know.
He did not lose this knowledge when He became a human being.
But He chose to live a life as a man without taking advantage of
all of His divine powers. In
this way He who was eternal wisdom grew in wisdom.
He who knew all things studied and learned.
He from whom every word of God was given to the prophets who
wrote it down in the Scriptures searched those same Scriptures to learn
of His divine mission.
It was the festival of the
Passover. The original
Passover was when God commanded the children of Israel to mark their
doors with the blood of a lamb. The
Angel of Death would visit all the homes and kill the firstborn son of
every Egyptian family. When he visited those homes marked by the blood of the lamb
he would pass over them. As
Jesus asked questions of the teachers in the temple and listened to
their answers He saw that He Himself was to be the Passover Lamb.
Jesus, our big brother, had a desire to know and understand
Godís word, Godís will, and Godís plan of salvation.
There in the temple at the age of twelve years old, Jesus saw His
future unfold before Him. The
blood that turns away death was not the blood of an innocent animal. It had to be the blood of a man, an innocent man, the God
become man, Jesus. Jesus,
the holy Son of the Father and the dutiful Son of Mary, would shed His
holy blood for sinners. So
the Scriptures said. So
Jesus learned. And He did not shirk such learning. He embraced it. He
embraced it in obedience to His divine Father and in love for us all.
This was the business of His
Fatherís house. The
temple is where God meets His people.
God came to His temple in the person of a twelve year old boy.
There He studied. He
learned. He sought out instruction in Christian doctrine.
His mother objected.
She loved with a motherís love.
She chided her divine Son. Wasnít
He concerned about her and Joseph? She referred to Joseph, Jesusí stepfather, as ďyour
father.Ē In response,
Jesus referred to God the Father as ďmy father.Ē
Only Jesus can call God ďmy Father.Ē
The rest of us are taught to call Him ďour Father.Ē
We are children of God by adoption.
Jesus is the Son of God by an eternal begetting.
The temporal will of Jesusí human mother had to give way to the
eternal will of Jesusí divine Father.
ďWhy did you seek Me? Did
you not know that I must be about My Fatherís business?Ē
They didnít understand. But
we do understand.
We understand because Jesus, our
Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
His blood marks our door and the angel of death cannot touch us.
We understand why Jesus had to study theology in the temple.
It was for our benefit. Placing
the Fourth Commandment under the Third Commandment is for our benefit.
It doesnít seem so.
Thatís because we may not immediately see the benefit in our
children memorizing the Catechism or learning the Bible stories and the
basics of Christian doctrine. There
is an immediate concern, on the other hand, if our children donít do
as theyíre told, if they donít do their chores, their homework, or
if they smart off and start running wild.
So we assume that if we keep them under loving discipline we have
done our parental duty. Thatís
a wrong assumption to make.
Can we parents admit something
about ourselves? We are not
as important as we may think. As
much as our children need us, they need Godís word even more.
As much as we want our children to love us, they need to love God
more. As much as we want
our children to listen to what we have to say, it is far more important
that they be indoctrinated in Godís word than that they go where we
want them to go and do what we want them to do.
We donít know our childrenís future and we certainly arenít
in control of it. When we give them Godís word and encourage them to learn it
and take it to heart we are giving them their future.
Mary didnít understand
Jesusí words, but she did ponder in her heart those things that
werenít yet clear to her. She would in due time learn what her Son was learning in the
temple during the days when the family left Jesus behind.
She would feel the sword pierce her soul as Simeon foretold (Luke
2:35) as she watched her Son become the Passover Lamb while nailed to
the cross bearing the sin and the death of the whole human race.
Mary would see what it was her Son had to know.
And every Christian mother and
father must look to Calvary to see there what their dear children must
learn to know. Christian
doctrine is not lessons to be learned and forgotten.
The Third Commandment is more than the demand that we go to
church. We are to attend
with an attitude of wanting to learn every word that comes from the
mouth of God. We cannot honor our parents and other human authorities if we
do not put Godís word above them.
To love Godís word is to love God, for it is by His word that
He makes Himself known to us. No
human father or mother can guarantee what our Father in heaven
guarantees. The foundation of His guarantee is the obedience of His only
begotten Son all the way to the death of the cross. And this is the essence, soul, and center of all Christian
teaching. This is why we
learn Godís word. Everything
we learn relates to Christ and serves in joining us to Him who is our
God and our elder brother.
Jesus has been through it all
before us. We follow Him. We do as He did. He
put Godís word first Ė above all earthly pursuits and all human
affections. We place
Godís teaching as more precious than any human relationship.
We do as Jesus did. Oh,
we should! Who can argue
against that? But we
donít. We donít follow Him as we promised to do when we confirmed
our baptism. We place
friends, family, and the comfort of familiar ties above loyalty to
Godís word. But Jesus
remains our elder brother. He
has been through it all before us, but with one vital difference.
He always placed affection for Godís word and Godís truth and
Godís promises above affection for anything in the world.
And He did so to fulfill for us all our filial duty to our Father
in heaven. This is why we
hold on to Him. For His
sake death and judgment pass over us and we live under Godís grace.
Our many sins are blotted out.
Christís obedience is credited to us.
Our brother has become our Savior.
As the angel promised, He has saved His people from their sins.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus