Sunday Sermon for 26 December 2021: “Oh Boy, Jesus!”

Today’s focus is Luke 2:41-52, revealing a twelve-year-old Jesus who went to Jerusalem with his parents Mary and Joseph for a religious festival. Aside from this peculiar story, there’s nothing else in the Bible that describes much about Jesus between his early childhood and when he started his adult public ministry.

The young Jesus had gone to Jerusalem with his parents for the high holy day of Passover, the most sacred time of the Jewish year. After the festival, Jesus went to the great temple without telling his parents where he was going. Mary and Joseph had already begun the long trek home before they realized that Jesus was missing. The parents of our Lord then had to return to Jerusalem and only after three days did they find Jesus.

Can you imagine how you’d feel if you were on your way home from a long journey only to discover that your child was missing? Imagine the fear and almost unimaginable stress you’d endure until you found your precious loved one. I’m sure that’s precisely what Mary and Joseph endured. This was no small incident; the loss of a child isn’t a casual matter.

After Mary and Joseph found Jesus the Bible hints at the emotional distress. “ ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety’ “ (Luke 2:48). The modern equivalent of his parents’ reaction to Jesus might read like this: “Hey, what the heck were you thinking? You can’t act like this!” Jesus’ response of saying he had to be doing God’s business has some interesting implications. Jesus suggests that Mary and Joseph overreacted to his unannounced absence. Apparently, Jesus felt that his parents should have known that he didn’t need their permission for what he felt called to do.

Jesus wasn’t just hanging out at the temple watching people go by. The extraordinary situation of Jesus teaching the religious scholars at the temple must have caused a stir. Even Mary and Joseph were amazed when they heard Jesus discussing deep doctrines. Again, put yourself in this circumstance and imagine what it would be like if you discovered your missing but brilliant child arguing with philosophers at Harvard. One of the insights that the story reveals is that Jesus was special and not a typical twelve-year-old.

Think about Jesus’ divine status as a partial explanation of the way he acted. This means that the rules were different for Jesus, and he could get away with behavior that might have earned any ordinary child harsh discipline. There’s also the sense that parents don’t always understand how God does ministry within the heart and mind of their child. Extending the situation beyond Jesus to your life suggests that when God calls you perhaps at first you may not understand what’s happening. In such situations you can persist in doing God’s work even if it stretches the usual expectations of who and what you are.

Jesus was acting like an intellectual genius when most kids his age were playing in the dust. Talented and gifted children are nothing new, but in Jesus’ case God’s call was more than a step toward academic brilliance. Jesus was learning about wonderful spiritual truths and his activities in temple may have been a rehearsal for his later teachings. Perhaps your children and grand-children will do wonderful things in God’s name. And don’t give-up on yourself, either. Even if you’re not young in years you can still aspire to great things. Be open and engaged, sharing the joy of embracing life and gaining strength and blessings.

–Reverend Hoxey

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