Sermon from Dec. 30, 2018.

Thought I would post this, see if I get any comments or reactions. Enjoy. Learn. Love.

Jesus Left at the Temple (no child left behind?)

Let us pray. Psalm 19: 14. Heavenly Father. May the words of my mouth, and the mediations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, my Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

Guilty as charged. We left Ben at church after worship service once, when he was about preschool age. Fortunately, Mel and Colleen picked him up and took him to Grandma’s house. Oops. How could this happen? Easily. Two drivers, two vehicles. We just assumed the other one had him.

Mary, Joseph, friends and family were in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. It shows that they were bringing up their children in the Jewish faith. It is good to have kids coming to worship services and other church functions.

They traveled in a caravan where people were grouped by ages, adults traveling with adults, kids with other kids, women and children up front of the group, men in the back making sure no one gets separated from the group. So what happened?

It doesn’t specifically say, but I think when it came to dinner time, they wanted to check on him, make sure He was eating his vegetables, and was traveling well, no injuries or issues. I can imagine the shear panic when they realized that He wasn’t with the group and no one had seen Him.

A panicked trip back to the big city, but where to start looking?

After three days, they found Him studying in the temple with the elders and teachers. I think this is a wonderful example of the importance of teaching and listening to young students. “It is for the honor of Christ that children should attend to worship. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. For it becomes the children of God (that means all of us), in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father’s business.” (Matthews commentary).

“Don’t you know I would be about my Father’s business?” His answer may seem callous but it’s actually more inquisitive, a reminder to the parents that this child was very special. Jesus also acknowledges that Joseph was not his father (who told Him that?). Such a birth would not be accepted, neither would the child, so I’m not sure Mary or Joseph would have relayed this message to Him. Mary and Joseph did not understand what He meant by being “at His Father’s business.” It had been twelve years since His birth, Mary and Joseph were busy with family matters, other children, Emmanuel had faded into common day activities and was forgotten until much later.

His statement of being “about His Father’s business” speaks of His divinity even at an early age, He knew. He must be divine in order to be the perfect sacrifice for us. “The importance of Christ’s Divinity” by Thomas Nelson tells of several reasons for this importance of His divinity and being the foundation for our belief in Him.

  1. It authenticates the inspiration and authority of scripture. It fulfills prophecy from the Old Testament and supports the idea that scripture is “God inspired.” 2 Tim 3: 16-17. Jesus came as the sacrifice so temple sacrifices were no longer needed. Jesus became the new temple that replaced the old sanctuary and killing of animals by virtue of His crucifixion and resurrection. All of the scriptures that direct worship to Jesus would be truly blasphemous if Christ were not God in human flesh, we would be instead worshipping idols.
  2. It informs believers of the true nature of the Godhead. It points to the Trinity of God with God, Jesus, and later, the Holy Spirit. A mere mortal man could not ascend to heaven, being glorified and worshiped by the disciples. A mortal man could not be at the creation of the world, Gospel of John, chapter  1, come to earth to be our Savior, and come to John to describe the second coming in the Book of Revelation.
  3. Christ’s divinity is important because it is the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. As a sinless sacrifice, we are saved through Christ alone and will receive our eternal life with God. Only Jesus could be born sinless (virgin birth by the Holy Spirit) and live a sinless life. Since Adam and Eve left the garden, no man has lived a sinless life, it is not possible since we are all born by sin, into sin. Psalm 51: 5, Ecclesiastes 7: 20, Romans 3: 23, Romans 5: 19, Ephesians 2: 3, etc. You get the idea.

Do we have a spark of that divinity within us? This phrase has been in the news recently within the political world of back and forth between Dem/Rep, insulting each other, making accusations of insensitivity, not respecting the “spark of divinity” of all people, including illegal immigrants.  

Do we have a spark of divinity within us? We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1: 27) and we have the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor. 2: 12, Romans 8: 26-27, Galatians 5: 16). We are sanctified through Christ, made Holy through His sacrifice (Hebrews 10: 10). This sounds good.

But is this a Christian doctrine? Nope. This is a gnostic belief being twisted and manipulated into being a purported part of the Christian belief system. This is incredibly self-centered thinking that I am part God.

 Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: γνωστικός gnostikos, “having knowledge”, from γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a modern name for a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish-Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. These systems believed that the material world is created by an emanation of the highest God, trapping the divine spark within the human body. This divine spark could be liberated by gnosis (esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth). Some of the core teachings include the following:

  1. All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
  2. There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
  3. The creator of the (material) universe is not the supreme god, but an inferior spirit.
  4. Gnosticism does not deal with “sin”, only ignorance.
  5. To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.

Are we divine? No. Are we made sanctified? Only through Christ. We have no inner righteousness, we all sin, we all suffer from brokenness from God. He is the only one who is good, righteous, and holy. While an infant may look cute, it is still filled with sin. Any parent will tell you that you have to teach children not to be cruel or mean, even from an early age. We invest a lot of time, money, and effort to get our children to behave, especially in public. Spare the rod. (Proverbs 13, 22, 23, and 29 speak of proper discipline for a child)

What was Jesus’ life like as a child? Did He have the “terrible two’s” or did he eat his vegetables? How did Jesus behave as a child, birth to 12 years old? None of the Gospels tell of this early life, with the exception of today’s reading. There are Apocryphal writings – Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of James – that describe his upbringing. And it’s understandable why they were not included in the cannon books of the bible; these are very strange, disturbing writings (killing then resurrecting the neighbor kids). According to these writings, Jesus did not do well in school since He knew more than the teachers. It is difficult for us to imagine Jesus learning to bless people and not curse them or kill them. (This would make a great bible study.) How difficult was His childhood for His parents?

Verses 51-52 tell us that Mary and Joseph did not understand what He was saying to them, but Jesus went with them, was subject to them, and increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

I wonder how often Mary and Joseph didn’t have a clue as to what Jesus was talking about. Rarely did He give explanations about His statements in His adult years. He just let them stand as given, as they were. This might be a little frustrating for parents, to not understand what their kids are talking about. But He was subject to them and did not sin. He behaved.

Jesus was still subject to his earthly parents. This is called submission. “The more mature and secure a person is, the easier submission is for them. Because Jesus knew what He was about, because He was secure in who He was, even though He knew infinitely more than His parents, He was able to submit to them, do as He was told. The underlying principle of submission is not how much one knows, but who one is becoming. Therefore, even if you know more than they do, if you are wise, you will submit to your parents, your employer, and your leaders because submission is not a matter of the right decision. It’s a matter of becoming the right person.” This is from Jon Courson’s commentary on the New Testament. Does this make sense? Becoming the right person is more important than arguing about the right decision. If we can not submit to our parents, our spouse, our boss, how can we submit to the will of God?

What’s my point?

  1. Don’t forget to take your kids / grandkids home. Do a head count.
  2. Just because it sounds good, feels good, it may not be good or biblical. We have no spark of divinity.
    1. We can do whatever we want, that’s true, but it may not turn out well. We are no longer under the law, but under Grace. Romans, 1 Cor., and Hebrews, etc. all talk about the believer being under God’s grace.
    1. Phillipians. 3: 7-9. (also a great Bible study) Paul says: “The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.”
  3. Study scripture.
    1. This week, while studying today’s reading, I learned about the Apocryphal writings of Jesus as a young child, what the spark of divinity is about, and Paul writing about everything he used to believe in, he now considers poop.
  • Understand scripture.
    • Through discussions, devotionals, and prayer, we ask for discernment from the Holy Spirit, so we can begin to understand what God needs us to do.
  • Obey.
    • Since we are born again as a new creation, we are living a new life, a changed life from when we lived in sin, according to the law. As I said on Christmas Eve, we don’t have to, but we want to.
  • Go and serve. Submit to God’s will.
    • We don’t all have to take up an orphanage as our calling, we don’t all have to stand up before the congregation, we don’t all have to lead in bible studies. We each have spiritual gifts. Ask God what he needs you to do.
  • And finally, stay with the group.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us together to hear your word. Please help us to remember these words in the coming week, so we can talk about it with our family and friends, so we can begin to understand, obey, and serve. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.