More Than A Story
January 5, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Luke 2:40–2:52
Christ Lutheran Church
January 5, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
More Than A Story
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and God's favor was upon him.
And his parents went to the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem each year. And when he was twelve years old they went up according to festal custom.
And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But, supposing him to be in the procession they went a day's journey, but then began to search for him among their relatives, and acquaintances.
And when they could not locate him they returned to Jerusalem looking for him; and after three days they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard him were beside themselves with wonder at his understanding and his answers.
And when his parents saw him they were bewildered and his mother said to him, "My child! Why have you done this to us? Look! Your father and I searched for you anxiously." And he said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?
And they did not understand the saying he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother collected all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature and in favor before God and men. (Luke 2:40-52)
If today’s gospel were nothing more than a biographical sketch from the Lord’s childhood it would wonderful enough. But there is much more in these few verses than a story. Rather, we find in them a pattern of the Lord’s entire life, his death and resurrection.
At the start we hear this: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and God's favor was upon him.”
St. Luke says these things because Jesus is the wisdom of God incarnate. All other weighty and noble thoughts ever hatched from the mind of man are nothing, less than nothing, in the face of this 12 year old child. He who in the words of St. Paul’s is: “The wisdom of God and power of God!”
And so all the “spiritual treasure” that St. Paul recounts in today’s epistle is found in him, in Christ, who renews creation and makes all things new.
There is none other!
“No other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.” And so “let grace come and this world pass away” so that only Christ remains in our hearts and minds, our flesh and our blood by this holy liturgy today.
St. Luke also reports that the child grew strong, and so it had to be because he was ordained by the Father to do what no man, or league of men can ever do: remove sin from the world. Crush the Fiendish devil whose only joy is our misery. And install peace, pure peace on the earth, and in the hearts of all humanity.
Ah, Peace! Gentle Peace. Earth’s most sought after treasure, that no one knows how to accomplish; and regarding those who say that they do: Beware!
They know what everyone desperately wants. Peace. Rest. Hope. Comfort. Relief from fear and want, and to grow and prosper. But just like “their father the devil” they place forbidden fruit before us and say to us: take eat!
But don’t do it!
That fruit is poisonous and it will kill you by a long, slow excruciating death!
Better to go to the tree of the cross which grows in the Christian pulpit, and on Christian altar, and eat there to your heart’s content.
What you consume in God’s House will counter-act what the world force-feeds you every day. It will make you clean with crystal waters from the heavenly river just as Jesus says, “You are now clean by the Word I have spoken to you.”
Hear the Lord’s words, Beloved. You are now clean! And so be at peace. Your sins are forgiven and forgotten by him who says, “I will remember their sins no more.”
Now that we are more than half way through today’s sermon and have only touched on the first verse of today’s gospel, you can see that there is much more here than a biographical sketch.
For today’s gospel is something like a practice run for the Lord’s final race when he would go to Jerusalem, for the true Passover, and it is all contained here in these twelve short verses.
We heard earlier, in today’s Old Testament lesson, that King Solomon offered “a thousand burnt offerings on the altar” at Gibeon, but that was not the true altar. Nor was the one in Jerusalem. Nor could Old Testament sacrifices purify men’s consciences, but they were a prophecy instead. A prediction of the true altar which is the cross … and of Jesus’ flesh which is the true sacrifice that lifts away sin from the world so that now we can breathe again!
Breathe free! Breathe easy.
We learn this in our own church by the icon of “Christ crucified,” suspended high above the altar, for it is the cross that gives the altar its power. The cross that provides the pure gifts here given “for us Christians to eat and to drink!” And so “Take! Eat! Take! Drink! The true body and blood of Christ.” Here the sheep may safely graze.
And so when Jesus goes to Jerusalem at age 12 it was but a model of what would happen 21 years later at the age of 33.
But for now no blood was spilled. Instead Jesus was content to worship in his Father’s House. Content to conduct the “Liturgy/Service of the Word” which is the first part of Christian worship still today, and which always precedes the “Liturgy/Service of the Sacrament.”
In our case there are only a few minutes between the two, but in the Lord’s case 21 years.
But first he taught. Taught with authority so dizzying that even the most learned religionists were like children before this child. No surprise there because God was now in his temple, in the person of his Son, downloading the knowledge of heaven into the sin-filled minds of men to purify and enlighten them … which is something like trying to contain the ocean in a thimble.
But Jesus can do that. Make the finite comprehend the infinite. And even if only in a small way for now, a word from heaven is more precious than the totality of earth’s “babel sounds” combined. (It Came Upon A Midnight Clear)
Here is beauty! Here is wonder! Here is heaven! Here is Jesus opening heaven to men.
Note, too, that Jesus was missing! His parents were in a panic, anxiously searching Jerusalem for their lost child for 3 long days. It was the Amber Alert of all Amber Alerts the Lord was lost.
If one of our children were to go missing like that we would be petrified. Frozen with fear.
The disciples no doubt felt the same, and worse, when the Lord was taken from them, when the combined hatred of all humanity was poured upon his “sacred head.”
And so when you suffer, O Beloved child of God, consider the distress of these!
But better consider how God turned their tears into joy when they found Jesus in the temple on the third day, and when by glorious resurrection he returned our Lord to us from the dead, also on the third day.
Yes! There is much more in today’s gospel than a story. Today we learn from the 12 years old Christ what the 33 year old Christ would do. Die and rise again on the third day “for us men and for our salvation”.
And so like Holy Mary Mother of God let us treasure all these things in our hearts, and then no darkness will overcome us. For this Little Child will lead us, and give us Peace. Amen.