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Title: The Boy, Jesus
Text: Luke 2.40-52
Introduction: The basic events as outlined in the Gospels are stories related by eyewitnesses. And, the writers, themselves were often times those same witnesses (i.e, first-hand reports). They observed first hand, Jesus in action. But stories of his childhood must come from other sources. That is why these stories of his childhood are very limited. Maybe that is why Luke begins this Gospel Account as he does in 1.1-4:
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
Luke states clearly that he wants to document his research so that there might be a certainty of the things being taught. I’m glad he did this extra work – going the extra mile, in order that we might know this story. This is the only story we have of his childhood.
**note: there are pseudopigraphic writings containing other-worldly type stories of the childhood of Jesus, but there is none we consider authoritative. Only this one…
I think Luke’s genius in his organization, thought and flow becomes apparent as we look closer at the text. I want you to remember the declaration of the Angel to Mary: 1st, She would bear a Son and his name would be called Jesus. In Lk 2.21, we read that is just what happened: they named him Jesus. 2nd, Her son would be Holy. We see that take place in Lk 2.22-23; 3rd, her son, Jesus, would be the Son of God (1.35). That hasn’t happened yet. As we’ve walked through Luke 1 and 2, we’ve not seen such a declaration, yet. We will see that in our passage today.
Notice how Luke brackets this story with certain phrasing: rd 2.40 and 2.52; growth, strength, wisdom, favor;
Luke is employing his journalist gift by creating a bridge between his birth and the start of his earthly ministry. To do this, he sets up his outline of three marks or traits of Jesus as given by the Angel, Gabriel. This third mark (i.e.,: being called the Son of God), is the purpose in this story and the link between these two separate parts to the book (his birth and the start of his earthly ministry).
So, just how will Luke do this? Let’s read the story together and I’ll then take you through his process, step by step. Read Luke 2.40-52; pray
This story reads like a narrative. Each narrative consists of:
- Conflict or Crisis
- Stasis (D. Helm: A New Setting; Simeon Trust Workshops)
See Graph: this is a picture of how a narrative might flow.
Let’s look at each one of these in our story:
- Setting (40-42): these people are Jewish and they are faithful to this religious observance.
- Conflict (43-45): every narrative has a crisis event where conflict occurs. This story finds the conflict or the crisis when Jesus (as a child) remains in Jerusalem and his mom and dad loose track of him. A search ensues. A return to the city is warranted. The search continues. It is on the 3rd day he is found.
- Climax (46-49): the story reaches its climax when Jesus is found and his mom confronts him for this action that has created such worry for them. And in his response, Jesus asks them two questions to demonstrate his childlike naïveté. Luke tells us that his parents don’t get it – they don’t understand his response.
- Resolution (50): The story’s resolution isn’t really much of a resolution. It finds its resolution and
- Stasis (51-2): The New Setting – Jesus lives out his childhood perfectly in the obedience and submission of the Messiah to his parents. He gets older, wiser, and stronger and is well respected among the people as he finds their favor. Most of all, he has his Father’s favor. Mary has a keen awareness of the fact that something is going on here. She doesn’t totally get it, but she gets that something is afoot.
But is that what Luke wants for his readers? Is his desire to just tell you a story and move on? Did he just think to himself that he had a journalistic problem here and was looking for filler? Or, are their lessons here for us? Is their theology that will help us understand the Messiah? More Questions:
- What is the significance of the Passover?
- What is the significance to the age of 12?
- How can a Mom and Dad not know where their child is?
- Was this Jesus so brilliant and smart that he actually became the teacher to these Doctors of Religion (think Seminary Professors)?
As we begin working our way through the text, I find it interesting that vs. 40 and 52 could serve as an outline to the story as well: he grew (v 42; 12 years old), he became strong (v 46; he was three days on his own), God’s grace or God’s favor was upon him (v. 49; about my Father’s business/things).
I hope to answers these questions as I make my way through this passage this morning using our stages of the narrative. Let’s begin with the 1st stage…
The Setting (40-42)
exp.: we continue with our rd in v 41; A reminder of their faithfulness; It appears that they made the trek to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. The OT Law required faithful Jews to make the trek to Jerusalem three times a year to present themselves to the Lord. Exodus 23.14-17: 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God. We see it also in Deut. 16.16: 16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. Cf.: Deut. 31.11; this is just one of the three times each year they would make that Journey (or at the very least, that Joseph made). Rd v 42;
app.: what you and I would probably miss is that this particular event is an important time of preparation for a Jewish boy. Sometime over the course of the next year, Jesus would turn 13 and would experience his Bar Mitzvah (Son of the Commandment). He would become a man. This Passover experience was an important part of that Bar Mitzvah experience. There were activities, lessons, experiences he would need on this particular year over the others. The identification of this particular year and this particular season is important in his life as a Jewish boy, who is becoming a man.
t.s.: The setting is a specific time frame, but there is more here than just identifying that it is about 7-8AD. It is a very special time in the life of a Jewish Boy. He’s becoming a man. Now that the setting has been set, the story continues into a time of conflict and crisis.
The Conflict or Crisis (43-45)
exp.: rd v 43-45; So his parents pack up and leave to head back to Nazareth, but Jesus remains in Jerusalem. It would be easy for him to be overlooked because Jesus has just experienced something special and wonderful. He’s in this ‘in-between’ stage of not really being a child anymore and not really being a man. In a traveling caravan like this one, filled with ‘relatives and acquaintances’ the men would travel together and the women and children would travel together. Joseph must have assumed that his son felt more comfortable with his mom and the other children and not yet ready for the rough and tumble world of manhood. Mary must have thought that Jesus felt himself to be ready to travel with the men. But, there must be even more here.
ill.: Have you ever known a child like this, who was found to be self-reliant and self-supportive? A child who needed very little oversight? At the age of 12, Jesus is just such a kid. He is so trusted, that his parents aren’t even that concerned with the fact that he is not in Joseph or Mary’s presence. He can be trusted. If he isn’t with me, then he is where he believes he is supposed to be.
This should be speaking volumes to us at this moment. Jesus is a good kid. He is so good, and so trusted that his parents aren’t even checking up on him. See the end of v 43: His parents did not know it…
exp.: at the end of the day, as the caravan makes camp, they come to realize that Jesus isn’t with them. A search ensues amongst relatives and friends, but to no avail. There is only one logical explanation: Jesus must still be back in Jerusalem.
ill.: Did you by chance catch this week’s biggest story? 13-year-old Jayme Closs escaped from her captor’s home and found a woman walking her dog. The woman called 911 and knocked on a door to a house where they were. Jayme was kidnapped last October by a man who killed both of her parents. The police said that she simply vanished. There was no trail to even begin trying to track her whereabouts.
app.: You and I sit here this morning and think that story is probably our biggest nightmare: one of our children missing – and unaccounted for… And this is where we find these parents: miles from Jerusalem and no idea where their little boy is. All of the sudden, he goes from this perception of “becoming a man” to “he’s their little boy”…
exp.: pick up in v 46; after three days, they found him in the Temple! The 1st day, they weren’t too worried, they figured and expected the best of their son – and it wasn’t until later that evening at their stop that they make this discovery. I’m sure it was a long night, waiting for daylight so that they could return to the city. Did they have to make arrangements for their other children, animals, possessions? They traveled all that 2nd day. That day must have been the worst. But on the 3rd day, and yes, I think there is a hint of the story of the tomb here; But on that 3rd day, they found him in the Temple.
t.s.: and this is where the story reaches its climax…
The Climax (46-49)
exp.: They found him; rd v 46; three participles describing the actions of Jesus: sitting, listening, and inquiring. Two responses I’m supposing comes from a parent at this moment. An overwhelming sense of relief that there he is alive and well. And 2ndly, an overwhelming attempt to hide their incredible anger and disappointment for putting them through this anguish. Mary says as much in v48: Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress. This word in the Gk, translated in great distress, is a medical term which means internal distress and anguish. I’m grateful for the work of William Kirk Hobart in his scholarly book, The Medical Language of St. Luke. The work to produce this book is mindboggling, in that, Hobart did this work in 1882, without the help of computers. According to Hobart, Luke applies this word to three separate stories in four places:
- Here (2.48), to describe the internal anguish of parents who have lost and cannot find their missing child;
- Luke 16.24f; to describe the anguish of hell in the Story of the rich man, Lazarus, who is cast into hell. And, interestingly enough, in
- Acts 20.38, where the elders say goodbye to Paul, knowing that they will never see him again. Their goodbye is filled with the deepest of sorrow because they know their friend is going to his death.
A couple of notes, I think are interesting here: Teachers usually sat in the midst of their students. Where do they find Jesus? Lit. Gk: sitting in the midst/middle of the teachers (professors). So, he appears to be in the position of teacher. But the text doesn’t say that. 2ndly, he is answering their questions and asking them questions that display to them an incredible aptitude for the things of God. Look at the response of these professors; rd v 47;
But, this is what I find so amazing about this story – and it is the response of the boy Jesus to his mother. Rd v 49: And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.” Gk. Lit.: Did you not know that about the things of my Father, must be me. In other words, I must be about my Father’s things (i.e., his business).
app.: Jesus is totally caught off guard at their anguish. Didn’t they know that he would be right where he was, doing just what he was doing?
I have to pause and say that I missed this in our children. Lisa, she was keenly aware of our children and their child-like state. She understood their little minds. She saw when they acted like Children, that they weren’t being rebellious – they were just being children. Being. That is the word that Jesus uses here.
t.s.: Which leads us to the Resolution.
The Resolution (50)
exp.: in Biblical narrative, I find that the resolution of the story is often quite short, as we find it here. One verse. Rd v 50; If you’ve been a believer for many years, then you know this is common with those who follow Jesus. Often times, as he speaks to them about spiritual things, they just don’t get it. These things were hidden from them and they didn’t fully understand them. And, even with all that has taken place with them, even since before Jesus was born, they’re still trapped in the earthly mindset of human beings.
Consider their responsibility as parents. They might look bad to the others they were traveling with, to the others who have their other children.
Jesus asked them in v 49 – why were you searching for me? Did you not know…. Surely you knew. Jesus is shocked that they don’t grasp what it is that he is doing – and what he came to do. And v 50 clarifies that they don’t! But he does! Even at the age of 12, he knew that he was to be about his Father’s business.
Parents, has your child ever embarrassed you? I think Mary and Joseph are embarrassed, humiliated. But Jesus doesn’t think they should be. They should have known what he would be doing and where he would be. At least, HE thought they should have known. He doesn’t get why they don’t understand. He sees things through the eyes of a 12-year-old – a boy who is turning into a man – but he isn’t quite there yet. He has a childlike naivety that is essential to our faith. It is that ability to trust.
They don’t understand. Mary said… your father and I…, Jesus said my Father’s things.
But, with the Resolution comes a New Setting – Stasis.
Stasis: A New Setting (51-52)
exp.: rd v 51; Jesus goes home with them to Nazareth and lives out his life in obedience and submission to them. Sometime over the next few years, Joseph will die. We won’t know about any of that, because the next part of the story will pick up when Jesus begins his earthly ministry. Until that time, Jesus will take the leadership role in his family. He will serve as a carpenter. He’ll build houses, furniture, plows, and yokes. And all of that will come in handy as he teaches, relying on his experiences to share.
Conclusion: So, what would I like you to take home with you this morning?
- As we consider the Passover and the experience of a 12-year-old boy, I think it is important to remember that God is God over everything in our lives – even the timing of the events that take place. He is neither too slow in moving, nor too fast in resolving matters. His timing is perfect. Time must have been of great concern for mom and dad. But, even in their fear, in their anguish, and yes, even in the timing of it all – God is God.
I’m worried that phrasing may sound too trite. I don’t mean to downplay anyone’s anguish. But, be honest. Is any of this out of God’s control? Do you believe he is in control?
- It is also a great reminder for us to consider that each story in Scripture, even though it might only seem to be a simple story, is so much more than just a moral to be discovered. God was at work in the lives of those people, accomplishing his purpose and his glory. Every act and action is vital.
- So, don’t think of your life as small and inconsequential. Don’t think that any small part of your life as something too small in the grand scheme of God’s plan. You just might have no idea of what God is on the verge of doing or accomplishing in you or around you. Whether you are the Mary or the Joseph or the Teachers or someone in the crowd – God is in your midst. He’s up to something. And yes, I do believe that. God is up to something and that something is bringing glory to himself through you and the events of your life.
- So, let me ask, in all you do, are you about your Father’s things?
- I’m keenly aware of this friction between the two storylines of Jesus and his faithfulness to be about his Father’s business and the anguish and distress of these two parents who’ve lost their son and have no idea where he is or what he is going through. But if I might, I’d like you to pull away from the close-up view in the Temple – and away from these parents who are moving back toward Jerusalem as fast as they can, praying as they go. Pull back to the place where God sits and get a ‘God’s eye view” of things. He is there in their anguish. He is there in the mother’s tears and the father’s quiet pleading in prayer for his son’s safety. God is not absent in it all.
As you sit here this morning enduring whatever life has thrown at you, I want to ask you to consider that God is in the midst of your struggle. He knows the outcome. He knows the details. He knows… So put your trust in him.
I’d like to invite you to do that. At Calvary, we sit in silence and reflect upon the day’s activity. We reflect upon God’s activity in our lives. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship. We’d love to visit with you about it all.