Routines with Non-routines Results

December 27th, 1998

Luke 2: 41-52


          We live in an age which is child focused.  We are just coming out of the Christmas season which some say, is for the children.  While two or three generations ago, the greatest concern was spoiling a child, today’s concern is not giving the child enough attention.  Pediatricians tell us how utterly significant the first three years of a child’s life are, and in our age we assume that many adult issues have their foundation in our childhood.  So here we have the greatest person who ever lived, and all we have from his “ever important childhood” is this little account of staying at church to long church.  Everyone else went home after Sunday School, but he simply couldn’t get enough, and so he sat amazing the Rabbis with his understanding and answers but also listening and asking questions.   This is nice, but we want to know as believers in a sinless Jesus, what was it like to play with a child who was perfect?   What was it like for Mary and Joseph to have a Son, you knew was the Savior of the world.  His routines had to be different, didn’t they?   Well, as usual the Bible tells us what we need to know, and is not all that interested in explaining what we want to know.  What is there that is needed for us to know in this text?

          When talking about what Jesus has done for us, usually we will answer ‘he loves us by dying for us”.  This is a true statement, and in fancy theological terms this is called his “Passive obedience”.  That simply means he “took” on himself what we deserve.   However, there is another thing that he has done for us, and that is called his active obedience.   That is, his keeping and doing what God wants every human to do.   We can’t do this because of sin, but he can.  Now before your eyes glaze over to much, let me explain a bit further.  When people think of doing good things, usually we think exclusively of doing things for other people.  “Helping the needy, loving our enemies, honoring marriage, being content” , and the like.  However, the best works we can do are found in the first three commandments.  These are to love God, honor God, with all our heart should and mind.  We do this by calling upon his name, and receiving his Word with faith, joy, and thanksgiving.   How are we doing at this?   Did you think today, o boy, another day to worship God?  Or, maybe something like this, “Oeyveh, church again…..this is the fourth time in the last two weeks….that ought to get me some credit.  Since we did four already in the last two weeks, maybe I’m good for the next four.  You see what happens, in this instance, coming into contact and hearing words from the one who loves you more than anyone else, becomes a drudgery.    The fact is we don’t love God and his Word like we should, and that holds true if one wears one of these (point to collar) or if one is a squirmy five year old or 12 year old.   Guess what, Jesus actively does something about this laziness toward God and his Word.

          Here is 12 year old, a present day seventh grader, Jesus son of Joseph.  Doing the routines of worship every Jewish family did.  They also had holidays and the Passover celebration would rival today’s Christmas in terms of significance was the Passover.   A celebration of the greatest event in Israel’s history.  Thousands upon thousands of children trudged along with their folks and countless relatives to do their routine sacrifices, and of course eat and eat (that is what people always do at holiday gatherings).  As active Jewish people Mary and Joseph attended the Passover every year, and even though Mary did not have to attend, she chose to do so..  Every year, the routine of the sacrifice, the retelling of the exodus account, the slaughter of the ram, and the promise of the Messiah.  That was Jesus early life,   but this year something unique happened. 

           When a Jewish male was about twelve years old they believed he was n the cusp of Spiritual Maturity.  This was all according to the custom, according to the routine.  Yet this Jesus was anything but routine.  He stayed behind, and in rabbinic fashion spoke with the leaders, answered and asked questions.  Since they traveled in large groups it was understandable that he would be left behind.   His parents though were stunned and surprised.  While understandable, it does seem they have forgotten who this child was.   Jesus would remind them soon that he was different from other Jewish boys with his first recorded words in the New Testament “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.”?    Here you have it, Mary and Jospeh forgetting who Jesus really was or at least not realizing exactly what this meant.    You could say they didn’t match up to Jesus expectations.    Simeon, the old man who blessed Jesus, said that the Christ child would cause the rising and falling of many.  Here Mary and Joseph stumbled a bit, because it says “They did not understand the saying that was spoken to him.”  You know the rest of the account, in that Jesus was submissive to them anyway.   Now what does this all have to do with the life you and I have as followers of this Jesus? 

          You have been hearing stories of New Years Resolutions, and maybe half heartidly or whole heartedly you have thrown out a few ideas.  Last year, I resolved to become a better tipper, and not such a cheap skate.   For the most part that went fairly well, though I’m still kind of cheap on things.  However, I also wanted to have more visits with congregation members, and get to know them better, even stay in better communication via e-mail.  That one is a mixed bag, as to how that turned out.  As soon as the resolutions come out, we hear countless stories about people breaking their resolutions.  We have the same old habits, same routines, and often these well intentioned resolutions fall by the way side.  This is the way it is with God’s law,  even the best we can muster can’t keep it like Jesus can.   He loved his Father, and treasured his Word in a way beyond what we have, are doing, and will do.  Our unfulfilled expectations have been fulfilled by our Jesus.  This is active obedience.  It is action that Jesus has completed for you and for me.  We so often define our life by what we have done or even what we haven’t done.   May this account help us define our life through this Amazing Jesus, who loved his Father, obeyed his parents in ways that you and I have never done.   He became a man that he might fully know what you and I go through, but also to do what ultimately we cannot do ourselves.  Die passively on the cross, that is for sure, but also to actively keep all of God’s commands so that we needn’t worry anymore whether we have done enough.  What an amazing Jesus.