Archive for the ‘Two Natures of Christ’ Category

Steadfast in Christ’s Word!

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
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INTRODUCTION: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.  And the favor of God was upon him.” Vs. 40

Does it seem strange to you that God the Son should grow, become strong, and be filled with Wisdom?  This is God, right?  God does not change, right?  Right, but this is also Jesus, son of man, born of the Virgin Mary.  What a mystery, God assumes human flesh and becomes the God Child Jesus Christ, but what does that mean and why is it so?  This morning we will explore these questions and receive some real answers that we can take home with us, but first, let’s go over our gospel lesson again.

I. Tucked away in a small town called Nazareth, is a young couple who started their union out in a way that is not uncommon to many other Christian couples today…they started out joined together by faith in God’s real presence in their lives.  Oh yes they were different, they were special, because they would raise God’s Son, but they were also very similar to us.  They lived in the real world, where a living must be earned, bills must be paid, and Children must be raised. 

Every year, this God fearing and God loving couple did the right thing; they made the long journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the eight day long pass-over festival.  This year was no different, in that they made the trip, but it was different, because their son Jesus had now turned 12 years old.  This was the age in which a Jewish boy became “a son of the law,” and was obligated to learn and to observe all of its provisions.  Well the eight day festival is over, and now it’s time to head back to Nazareth.  Joseph, Mary, and Jesus would return home along with about 100 hundred other families from Nazareth and other nearby villages and towns.  The caravan would be split into 3 groups, the men, the women and children, and then the young boys who often traveled together playing and having fun (yes even then, it wasn’t cool to hang out with your parents).  Parents really didn’t worry much about these young boys though, because they knew that they were somewhere in the traveling company, and back then neighbors were real neighbors and they all kept a watchful eye on each other’s children. 

Well after the first day of travel, as everyone in the caravan was pitching their tents for the evening, Joseph and Mary realized any parent’s worst nightmare, their child was missing!  There would be no rest for them, as they quickly turned around and went back up the hill making the long trek back to Jerusalem to search for Jesus.  Now it would be two days of travel without rest.  Once in the city, the couple began to search feverishly for their boy.  They retraced their steps and went to every place they thought that Jesus might be.  Finally, towards evening, they found Him, sitting on the steps of the temple as a student, engaged in a learning discussion about God’s Word with many teaching Rabbi’s who were also gathered there.  Whew…they were relieved of course but they must have been worn-out and irritated as well, for you see now it had been 3 days without rest.  But they held their temper and didn’t interrupt the discussion taking place between Jesus and all of those teachers.  It amazed them to hear Jesus asking and answering such deep spiritual questions.  The teachers seemed amazed at the boy’s wisdom too.  But now, Jesus seeing His parents, suddenly rises, and He obediently walks over to them.  And His mother says to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? See, your father and I have been searching everywhere for you; we were worried sick over you!” And Jesus who was honestly surprised by this said to them, “You were looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be doing my Father’s work?  Didn’t you know that I would be here in my Father’s house?”  And that was it, the dilemma was over!  Jesus and His family certainly got some rest, and then together they began the long trek back home to Nazareth.  Mary and Joseph didn’t understand, but they knew that Jesus was a good boy, and someday they would understand that He was also the “God-man”.  So Jesus grew as any child, and he became wise and strong, and he continued to find favor in the eyes of God and man!II. Why didn’t Mary and Joseph know where to find Jesus?  Why didn’t they remember what the angels, the Magi, and the prophets told them about their child 12 seasons ago?  Why didn’t they remember that Jesus was really God the Father’s Son?  Well, because Jesus was also a very real person.  As a boy, and latter as a man Jesus was under God’s authority and dependent upon him for all things just like we are.  As a boy, Jesus was expected to honor His parents and keep the 4th Commandment perfectly, just as you and I must do, but the difference between Jesus and us is He did it and we can’t!  But then why did Jesus become separated from Joseph and Mary if he wasn’t at fault?  Well the error was His parents.  When Jesus asked them how it was that they didn’t know where he would be, he wasn’t being sarcastic, but rather truthful.  “Why didn’t you look for me before you left?  I would have left with you, you know!  Have you forgotten who I really am?  Have you forgotten all that God told you about me?  Why would you need to wonder where I would be or where you must find me?  Have you forgotten who’s Son I really am?  I must be in my Father’s house!”  Here in our gospel lesson, at the age of twelve we see that Jesus clearly knew most certainly that God was his Father in a way in which he was not Father to anyone else!

Dear friends, do we understand the wonderful mystery here?   This boy Jesus is speaking as God the Son, begotten from eternity by the Father in an absolutely unique relation? Can we surrender to the mystery that declares that Jesus is true God and true man without trying to explain how this can be?  Yes we can if by faith we surrender the mystery into God’s capable hands!  And it is by faith that we believe, teach, and confess that the divine and human natures of Jesus are now and forever inseparable, not pasted together like to sides to a coin, nor one transformed or absorbed into the other, but rather, each essence simply is and completely retains itself in a way that truly makes Jesus the God-Man! 

According to this personal union this God-boy in our gospel lesson already and always possessed His majesty as God, and yet He allowed it to be hidden just as great clouds in the can hide the sun. This is how Jesus could grow in stature, wisdom, and grace before God and other people [Luke 2:52]. This is why Jesus, knowing that He was the true Son of God, continued being subjected to His earthly parents.  Make no mistake friends, Jesus knew that He was the Son of the Father, and He knew that He was divine, and yet, he continued as a child who was obedient to Joseph and Mary because by doing so He was being obedient to His Heavenly Father’s will. ILLUS: There’s a famous picture that depicts the boy Jesus running with outstretched arms to his mother, with the shadow of the cross being cast on the ground by his form as he runs. The picture’s underlying message is true. Jesus obedience is an example not just for children growing and preparing for adulthood, but for all of us!  He was obedient to His parents and He was obedient to God’s will; but His obedience is also so much more than just an example, because without it He could not have been our Redeemer, the Savior who came to free us from sin and death by His own death upon the cross.

III. Dear friends, when Jesus declared His relationship with the Heavenly Father and demonstrated His obedience to His earthly parents, He was also declaring His purpose for coming to this world; to fulfill his Father’s will, which was to seek and save all people who are lost to sin. By perfectly living His life, that same life became a perfect act of worship.  By being obedient to the will of God His Father in all things, He was obedient, even “unto death, even death on a cross” for us.  Through the obedient life of this God-boy, Jesus’ role as Savior was proclaimed every day until he obediently walked to His very death upon the cross.  As the God-Man Jesus lived and died to bring about reconciliation between God and us.  Jesus,  obedient to His Father’s will  brought all people back to a right relationship with His father, and He did that work finally just outside the very walls of the Jerusalem temple where His parents found Him-He did it on Calvary.  It was there upon that cruel cross that God the Father would forsake His obedient Son and lay upon Him the punishment for all of our sins.  But after three days, God resurrected His Son from death to life in order to ensure us of our own personal victory over sin and death.  Jesus was obedient, and because of His obedience we have been given the ability to call God our “Father,” not in the same way as Jesus can mind you, but in a very real way that eternally ensures us of a loving relationship between God and you.”

Can you accept this as truth?  Can you be like Mother Mary and simply treasure these truths in your heart?  Can you accept that God’s mysteries are beyond your comprehension and simply allow the living Word of God to remain steadfast within your heart allowing Jesus Christ to strengthen your faith unto eternal life?  I pray that you will.  In Jesus name…AMEN!