It's the Second Sunday after Christmas, with two more days left in the Christmas season. Below you'll find, first, online worship from Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio, then, the text of the message shared.
This incident, I think, encapsulates all our human attempts to tame or domesticate the God we meet in Jesus Christ, the King of all kings. We want a safe Savior, compliant to our desires, who doesn’t condemn our sin, who doesn’t insist to have life with God we must take up our crosses and follow Him.
We see this truth underscored in today’s Gospel lesson, Luke 2:40-52. It has been twelve years since Jesus’ birth, twelve years too, since the moment eight days after His birth that He was circumcised and dedicated to God in the temple. Both before and after Jesus’ birth, God had repeatedly confirmed for Mary and Joseph that the child they were raising was not theirs. He was conceived in Mary’s womb, not in the usual way, but by the Holy Spirit; shepherds sent by angels had worshiped the child as God on the night of His birth; Simeon and Ann had declared the infant their Savior and God; wise men had worshiped and made offerings to Jesus; and, most remarkably of all, as Luke emphasizes in today’s lesson, Jesus had been a sinless child who always complied with the Ten Commandments’ mandate that he honor His earthly father and mother, Joseph and Mary.
But twelve years was plenty of time for Mary and Joseph to be lulled into believing that this child was really their child, that maybe they wouldn’t have to share Him with the world as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”
In today’s lesson, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus travel to Jerusalem for the Passover. Because in those days, “family” was much more than just the people in one’s household, Mary and Joseph began the return trip to Nazareth certain that Jesus was with some of his aunts, uncles, or cousins. It’s only on the way that they realize the boy isn’t with them.
They return to Jerusalem with what must have been both fear and anger. When they finally find Jesus in the temple, conversing knowledgeably about the Word of God with seasoned teachers of that Word, their fear subsides. But their anger is still present.
Jesus is mystified by His mother’s anger. She seems to have forgotten Who Jesus really is and what His business is in the world.
The point is clear, isn’t it? Jesus came into the world to save the world. God gave Mary and Joseph an important role in Jesus’ earthly story and He would always obey them as His earthly parents. But nobody and nothing could stand in the way of His fulfillment of His mission to the world, not even pious parents who brought their son to Passover celebrations and put the Word of God in His hands.
This reminds me of another incident in Jesus’ earthly life. Peter had become the first of the apostles to proclaim Jesus to be “the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:14). After commending Peter’s faith, Jesus went on to explain that because He was (and is) the Messiah and the Son of God, He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the people, go through crucifixion, death, then rise on the third day. Peter was as horrified at the thought of losing Jesus to a cross as Mary and Joseph must have been that day in the temple of losing Jesus as their son. Peter, displaying the kind of anger we see in Mary in today’s lesson, tells Jesus, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Then, with equal anger, Jesus tells Peter in words that must have stung as those He spoke as a twelve-year-old to Mary: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." (Matthew 16:23)
The Bible teaches us that Jesus can be one of two things to us (1 Peter 2:4-8).