First Sunday after Epiphany – Luke 2:41-52

Jesus was in His Father’s house, doing His Father’s business. The house is in Jerusalem, not Nazareth. He would do His foster father’s business up in Nazareth, perhaps helping out in the carpentry shop. The main business He did at home with Mary and Joseph is that He increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. He lives an ordinary, average childhood, doing whatever His mom and dad asks Him, for He was submissive to them.

Right now, at age twelve, He seems to get lost. It’s Passover. There are lots of people in Jerusalem to celebrate the highest feast of the Jewish calendar. Their whole identity is wrapped up in Passover, where God spares His children from the angel of death with the blood of a lamb and draws them out of Egypt to begin their pilgrimage to the Promised Land.

It wasn’t Jesus that was lost. Mary and Joseph, mom and dad, were lost. They left Jerusalem supposing Jesus was among those traveling with them. They went up the road twenty miles or so and discovered Jesus wasn’t in the group. They made the trip back to Jerusalem and spent the better part of a day looking for Him. Three days had passed when He was found in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Jesus is the center of attention, as He should be. Perhaps that’s what startles Mary and Joseph the most. A twelve-year-old boy, obedient to His parents, having already gone through much to keep Him alive, and now seems to ditch them and go His own way. Jesus isn’t beginning His rebellious phase in life. Jesus reminds His mother and father, and you and me that He takes on flesh to do His Father’s business. His Father’s business is to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven in His own death and resurrection.

Why have you treated us so? Mary asks the right question here. If you’ve ever lost track of a child, you know it can be a major inconvenience. When I was a boy I used to stray from my dad or my sister in a store. Once my dad did his shopping and simply left me behind, making me walk the short distance from Wal-Mart to our house. Another time I had my sister paged over the public address system, saying I was “lost” and was at the service desk. Needless to say my sister was embarrassed. But at least she knew where I was. At least my dad knew that I could walk out of the store and find my own way home.

There were no such things as Amber Alerts when our Lord walked this earth. He had to be sought. When He was found, He had His parents exactly where they should be, in the temple, hearing Him teach, asking questions, and giving answers. Jesus was front and center, where He belongs, proclaiming the favorable season of the Lord. Yet Mom and Dad aren’t happy about it. Neither are you, to be frank. It’s much easier for Jesus to come to you, where you are, rather than you having to seek Him and find Him.

Why has He treated us so? He does everything the way He wants to do it rather than asking me or others what would be the best way for Him to do what I think He ought to do. Being submissive and obedient is a good thing, especially for children, but who does Jesus think He is by making me go on a long, drawn out search just to hear Him say the same old thing over and over again.

Why were you looking for Me? Jesus is always where He promises to be. That’s what Mary and Joseph learned in their three-day search for their Son in Jerusalem on Passover. Could it be that the timing, the location, and the occasion all work together with Jesus finding them in the temple? Consider that Jesus was missing three days. That’s the length our Lord remained in the tomb after His death. His death and resurrection takes place just outside Jerusalem. The festival around which His death, burial, and resurrection happens to be the Passover. Coincidence?

No, not coincidence. Nothing that our Lord does is mere coincidence. Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus is the Living Bread that comes down from heaven. You eat of Him and are satisfied. The bread He gives satisfies your greatest desire: justice before God. Jesus gives that justice when He gives His life for you, in your place, shedding blood for your sake. His blood covers all your sin. You are justified, reckoned righteousness, before the Father. Your debt is paid in full.

Everything that happens in the temple prepares God’s people for their Messiah. Messiah has come to His temple to teach, listening and asking. That’s the pattern of how you learn the Christian faith. That’s the pattern for all learning. Every answer begins with a question. One question leads to another question. Another question begs another question. Questions and answers teach your mind and heart to think through what you learn.

What you learned either as a child or as an adult is the foundation of your salvation. You learned in questions and answers that you are a sinner who cannot fulfill the demands of the Law. You can’t even make a start to finish keeping the Law. Someone must do it for you. That someone is Jesus Christ, who not only kept the Law, but suffered the punishment you deserve for breaking the Law. His resurrection from the dead seals the victory He wins for the sins of the world. He teaches you what to ask your Father when you pray. He washes you in baptismal water, uniting you with His life, death, and resurrection. He absolves your sins. He gives you His true Body and true Blood for forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Jesus found you, just as He found His parents by drawing them to His Father’s house so they could see what He has taken on flesh to do for them and for you. The Father’s business is to give His Son for your sin, so He can give you to His Father as His bride, His holy Church.

It is He Who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Blessed are you who are found by the One Who finds His parents when they are drawn to Him in the temple to receive the good and precious gift of salvation.

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