Epiphany 1, 2019

The Epistle – Romans 12:1-5

The Gospel – St. Luke 2:41-52

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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This Sunday commemorates the manifestation of our Lord’s glory for the second time….this time in the Temple.

 

Last week we saw how, the Christ child, in his infancy revealed his glory to the Magi who came from afar to see Him and to lay gifts at His feet.

 

This was a clear indication that God was including all men into the fellowship of God’s household.

 

Jew and Gentile, all men of the earth were granted access through this newborn King.

 

Today, we have traversed about 10 or 11 years of Jesus’ life and we have arrived today at a second manifestation...a second Epiphany.

 

Today, this Epiphany is the appearing of the Lord Jesus, though only twelve years of age, is already about His Father’s business and in His Father’s House….the Temple.

 

At the age of thirteen, Jesus, as an obedient Jewish boy, would become what the Rabbis called a “Son of the Law.”  He would then be considered to have reached a sufficient age to know the obligations the Law.

 

His parents, Mary and Joseph would go up each year to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.

 

They would have travelled in a caravan about 60 miles from their home to get there. And after they had fulfilled their obligations to the festival, they begin to gather together with the others of the caravan and head home.

 

They travelled in caravans it is believed because of the danger of travelling alone.

 

There were many unscrupulous types on the roads, who would ambush smaller groups or individuals who were more easily overtaken and proceed to rob and/or kill them.

 

So travelling together made much more sense.

But a significant amount of time goes by and Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not among the group.

 

They probably would have travelled with others from their immediate neighborhood and figured at the time that the children were in the group being taken care of by someone.  

 

So they go to look for Him back in Jerusalem. They arrive back up at the Temple and there they find Jesus, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (ESV)

 

This would also be fairly common for young Jewish boys to sit under the Rabbis and be allowed to put questions to them and dialogue with them.

 

But it is noted here by Luke that “…all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (ESV)

 

Jesus was obviously quite articulate in His answers and even in the questions He asked. He impressed His elders by His eloquence.

 

We should be careful not to take this too far and believe that Jesus was supernaturally letting His divine nature and divine knowledge show here.

 

His time had not yet come to reveal Himself to the world.

 

He was, however a good and obedient child it would seem that He did have a good grasp of His need to be learning the things of God and growing in knowledge and wisdom…as it says at the end of this lesson today.

Mary and Joseph say to Him….Mary says to Him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” (ESV)

 

And to this, Jesus says, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” (ESV)

 

The translation of this answer gets a lot of attention. Some have Jesus saying, “About my Father’s business.”  Some believe it is more accurate to translate it, “In the things of my Father.”

 

But this is sometimes the advantage of multiple translations. You get a variety, which helps to understand that there is some flexibility or ambiguity in what is said, and yet it does have definite meaning.

 

And our minds process these different possibilities and we can see that Jesus is saying that this is where He was supposed to be and where His mind should be at all times….about His Father’s business, In His Father’s House or again probably best….about the things of His Father.

 

These are the first recorded words of Jesus. And they convey to us His primary focus for all of His life. To be immersed in the things of His Father. …to be learning and praying and living in the ways of His Father.

 

To be pleasing and obedient to His Father.

 

Not disregarding His earthly father, Joseph, but acutely aware that He and all of us have a heavenly Father who is higher and greater and to be worshiped and obeyed over all others.

Luke says this about Mary and Joseph regarding Jesus’ answer to them… “…they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.” (ESV)

 

Even though both Mary and Joseph had been visited by angels, been told of just who this child was they would raise, there is still this barrier that keeps them from fully realizing just who this child is.

 

It would seem that though they had heard the words of the angel and believed and obediently took on the task of birthing and raising Him, they still had a limited knowledge of who Jesus was.

 

Commentator Sadler - “It is clear that the Lord, however conscious He was of His Divine Sonship, had veiled it, and with it His superhuman knowledge, so that familiar intercourse with Him in their home, though it deepened their love and admiration, had not brought home to St. Joseph the significance of His name, ‘Emmanuel,’ which he had heard from the angel; nor to the Blessed Virgin the sense in which He was to be called ‘the Son of the Highest.’

 

But, indeed, that they should have had any adequate sense of His unutterable greatness was out of the question, for…to have possessed it would have simply paralyzed them, and made them incapable of performing the daily duties of home in His presence and company.”

 

In other words, had they fully understood who Jesus was in a complete divine and eternal sense, they would have never been able to simply go about their daily lives…they would have been awestruck.

So from here, Jesus leaves the Rabbis and teachers and leaves with His parents…back to the caravan, back home.

 

“He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (ESV)

 

So Luke would later spend probably much time with the Blessed Virgin and in his interviews with he would have learned of this event…learned how she and Joseph found Him that day and how he amazed everyone with His articulate personality both with the Rabbis and with His parents…

 

 

And yet, He still lived as a good and obedient child in submission to them until His time came to begin His ministry…which we will see next week with His baptism.

 

But it would seem that since this lesson is here for us today on the one hand and then over in the Epistle, St. Paul has instruction for us about we being living sacrifices unto the Lord, we have an important connection.

 

First, when we ask, who is at the center of the Scriptures, a good answer to that question is, “Jesus.”

 

Christ is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and then revealed fully in the New. 

 

 

 

Luke tells us in another places that after Jesus had risen from the dead and He talked with some of His followers, and “beginning with Moses and the Prophets,….beginning at the beginning of the Bible, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (ESV)

 

Christ is at the center of all of the Scriptures.

 

So when Paul says, as he does today, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 

Who only fits this description?  It's not any of us.

Yes, this is a command from Paul to us….. and we are to carry it out with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, but really, the One who can only do this to the degree of full obedience is Jesus.

 

What else was He doing in the Temple that day and as He grew in wisdom and stature and obedience and submission to His parents and “about the things of His Father”??? 

 

Precisely this.

 

What did Jesus do continually from this age, through His baptism and ministry and teaching and preaching, …and obedience even unto death??

 

Precisely this.

Presenting His body as a living sacrifice. …holy and acceptable to God. Was always in practice immersed in spiritual worship.

 

Never conforming to the corruption of the world around Him.

 

Growing in wisdom and stature with God and men, means that as a boy and as a man, He always set His mind to be transformed and conformed to the will of His Father.

 

Always seeking to discern what the will of God was. Always living a good and acceptable and perfect life before His Heavenly Father.”

 

So among other things, this is what we receive from this Epiphany lesson today.

 

We see the young Jesus, already working out and living out what theologians refer to as His active obedience.

 

Jesus completes both active and passive obedience in His life.

 

Passive in such things as His going to the cross by the hands of other men.

 

But His active obedience is His obeying the Law of God, living uprightly and perfectly in the sight of God on our behalf and actively securing our redemption by His life of perfect service to God the Father.

 

This Epiphany today calls to mind the letter to the Hebrews 10:5–17

 

[5] Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

            “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

                        but a body have you prepared for me;

            [6] in burnt offerings and sin offerings

                        you have taken no pleasure.

            [7] Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

                        as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

 

He was not only sinless, but actively righteous. And that righteousness is available to all who believe in Him this day.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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