Sermon for Second Sunday after Christmas
January 4, 2015, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: Luke 2:40-52
Sermon Theme: “Where Is That Boy?!”
(Sources: Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 25, Part 1, Series B; Anderson’s Preaching Workbook, Cycle B; Online Sermons Illustrations: “Growing Up Jesus”; original ideas and examples; Believer’s Commentary)
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since my mother was the church organist, when we were eleven or twelve, my twin brother and I still spent a great deal of time with her at the church, going with her to all the Sunday services, as well as Mid-week services, choir rehearsals, wedding rehearsals, weddings, funerals, etc.
Believe it or not, I was the quiet, timid one, and my mother always knew where I was while she was rehearsing or meeting with the pastor, — I was in the car reading as I waited for her. My ADHD brother, however, was another matter. While she was about her business as organist, he was off at the cemetery a half mile behind the church shooting off firecrackers, or in the meadow next to the cemetery chasing jack rabbits. He never missed an opportunity for adventure and excitement.
When my mother would come out of the church, the first thing she would ask was, “Where is that boy?!”
My response was, “I don’t know; I was reading.”
In our sermon text for today, Jesus was 12 years old, about the same age as my brother and me as we neared the age of Confirmation, when a boy would become a “man” and would no longer have to be in his mother’s shadow all the time. Mary and Joseph were on their way back home from the Passover in Jerusalem, almost a day’s journey out, when they discovered Jesus was missing; He wasn’t traveling with His young cousins where He was supposed to be.
I can imagine Mary and Joseph asking the same question my mother would ask, “Where is that boy?!”
Since they knew their son was the promised Messiah, I don’t think they thought He was in the meadow chasing rabbits or shooting off firecrackers in the cemetery. But naturally they were alarmed He was missing.
If you are wondering why it took so long before they realized Jesus was missing, you have to know the customs of the times. In those days, families traveled together in caravans, especially for festivals like the Passover, often with women going first, men following, children with the women, older boys traveling in groups; and, unless you were rich, you traveled by foot or on a donkey.
It took them three days to find their son. It would be highly unlikely they would try to travel at night. They finally found Him in the Temple.
Our sermon text says, “After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished.”
Now, look what His mother said to Him: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” Apparently her maternal instincts have caused her to temporarily forget that her son has come to the earth to be the world’s Messiah.
The English translation on our CPH insert gives Jesus’ answer as, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” The King James Version and other English translations give Jesus’ answer as, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business.” That’s a better translation.
The 12 year old Jesus wasn’t lost. He was where He was supposed to be, in His Father’s House, doing His Father’s business.
It’s like Mary is saying, “Where is that boy?!,” and He is saying that He is doing His Father’s business.
Believe me, in our childhood days, my brother was not going about His Heavenly Father’s business. Nor was I! To be sure, I was not sitting in the car, reading my Bible, or doing my Sunday School lesson. I was reading the Hardy Brothers mystery stories. Our mother was the only one going about the Heavenly Father’s business.
But none of us can take care of the Heavenly Father’s business in the way that Jesus was called to do. In fact, He was taking care of the Father’s business for us. Not even Mary and Joseph could do the Father’s business in the way that Jesus had to.
Yes, Mary and Joseph did what every Israelite was expected to do: to journey to Jerusalem on a regular basis to worship at the chief festivals, especially Passover, which was the feast at the time of our text. It was also their duty to see that their children were trained in God’s Scriptures.
At the time of our text, their son, at age 12, was reaching what the Jews called “Spiritual Young Adulthood,” and so it was especially important for Him to be taken to Jerusalem for the Passover.
Two of my most cherished family treasures are my daddy’s Baptismal Certificate and his Confirmation certificate. He was born in 1908 and was confirmed in 1920, which means he was 12 when confirmed, the age of Jesus in the text. The picture on his confirmation certificate shows Jesus conversing with the learned rabbis in the Temple. Like Mary and Joseph we are about our Father’s business by sending our children to study confirmation with their learned pastor.
Yet, none of us can be about our Father’s business the way Jesus was. We were not called to suffer, die on the cross, and arise from the tomb as the Savior was. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be about the Father’s business that He has planned for us to do.
Coming to participate in the Festival of Christmas, as we did, and coming to the Holy Communion service today, as we did, are being about the Father’s business, and the Heavenly Father rejoices at our love and obedience, just as He did over the beautiful Christmas hymns we lifted up to His Son. Just as He does when we feed the hungry and care for the needy.
But there are some ways in which we think we are being about the Father’s business, when we are not.
Perhaps we suppose we’re being about the Father’s business when we’re stressing over things we know are critical. Emotional hurts. Sickness. Cancer and chemotherapy. Divorce. Terrorism. Crime and corruption in high places and in low places. Drive-by shootings. Stressing! Stressing! Stressing!
Jesus has a gentle rebuke for Mary’s stressing. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’
Jesus’ rebuke to Mary is a loving one, just as it is to us, because His meaning is to free us from every stress. “There’s no need for you to be anxious,” He’s saying, “because I am about my Father’s business. In fact, I’m taking care of all that business for you!”
It’s all been done. Our stresses, our sins, the hurts, the sicknesses, the worries of our world, our fears about how God sees us – Jesus has taken care of them all. He has seen to it, by finishing every task the Father gave Him, that God will be with us through all of these – every day as we go about our business and for an eternity free of every stress.
For us, Jesus devoted His life – from infancy to boyhood to death on the cross to empty tomb – to being about the Father’s business. All done! For us! Where is that boy?! He is doing His Father’s business! For us! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.