In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This morning in our Gospel lesson we hear for the first time in Luke Jesus speak. And unlike the other gospels His first words do not come at the beginning of His public ministry, but rather as an adolescent Jewish boy attending the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. We see not only an early glimpse of Christ, but also of the religious care and devotion of his parents Mary and Joseph. As Luke describes, the holy family went every year to offer sacrifice and celebrate the salvation of Israel. At 12, Jesus stands on the cusp of being a child and on the verge of becoming a man in the eyes of Judaism. And in preparation for that day, when He will take upon Himself the obligations of the Law, Mary and Joseph have taught him the prayers, the language of the faith, to keep the holy feasts and the stories of Israel’s triumphs and failings in the Scriptures. In fact they have done such a good job teaching Jesus that the teachers are amazed by Him, His ability to ask questions and answer those posed to Him.
Now we may easily say, “well of course He amazed the rabbi’s with His understanding, He’s Jesus. He knows everything!” But to do so, inherently conflicts with what we celebrated just a few days ago, the incarnation of God, His descending from heaven to enter humanity as a human. For though He is perfectly human, without sin, He is still as we all are limited by the constraints of the flesh, especially limited further by being only 12. Though God, He is circumcised on the 8th day in keeping with the covenant. Though God, He still needs to learn His Bible, remember the prayers, learn the covenants, and worship the Lord in His temple. Though God, He still needs religious education from His parents, to which we must give great credit to Mary and Joseph. It is their own faithfulness which informed and now shines through their boy. Though God, He still only has the capacity of a human brain. This is the radical mystery that is Christ in His two natures, fully God and yet fully man. Both of which are brought forward in our lesson today, which brings us to those first words uttered by Jesus.
Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that it is necessary (in the Greek, imperative) for me to be in my Father’s house? Gazing at His mother Mary, worried sick with anxiety about His missing, He reveals to her a realization that she likely knew, but had yet to this point heard Him utter. That He, though her Son born by her with the tears of joy to accompany it, is also the Son of another. One can almost feel the tension in that moment, when Jesus reminds her that He is also the Son of the heavenly Father. In the jarring of His being lost, she is jarred again by the reminder that He is not completely and totally her’s, but rather He belongs to God. A haunting reminder of the glorious words from Gabriel that He is the Lord’s and not only hers. It is this which she treasures in her heart, meditating on what that might truly mean all the while looking into the eyes of her son she has born, nurtured, and raised. Though she takes him home to Nazareth He will be forever bound to and about the house of His Father.
Where Matthew, Mark, and John begin with Jesus preaching after the arrival of the Baptism, Luke begins His gospel in the same place that He will end it: the Father’s House. As it was necessary for Jesus to be in the Temple, so too will it be for those who come after Him. Hear Luke’s final words, And [the disciples] worshiped [Jesus] and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. As Jesus in His adolescence and throughout His entire life will be about the Father’s business and the Father’s house, so too are those who dare to come after Him, those whom He will call brothers, those who pick up His cross and follow. In this the Christian life and we as Christians are given insight both from our Lord and the holy apostles what our lives are to be about and grounded in; The Father’s house.
We at times delude even ourselves that we think the Father’s house unimportant or in someway not necessary for ourselves and our lives as Christians. We have all likely heard someone say, “well I don’t need Church.” To which we must respond with a loud “bull.” For if it was necessary for Jesus, the Son of God to be in the temple praising His Father. And if the apostles themselves were continually there blessing God for the sending of Christ, so too do we need to find ourselves in the house of the Father. To be in this temple, this sanctuary of the most High, hearing His word proclaimed, receiving His Sacrament, and offering up our hymns, prayers, and praise to the eternal God. For through Christ, we are made to be like him a son of God in the flesh. And here he calls us to be about the things of His life and of His Word, casting off the ways of sin and the flesh to take up the joyous life that is ours in the Spirit. For we come to this temple to encounter the living God and be transformed by Him through the power of His Word and the glory of His Sacrament. Because of this and all that God does for us in this place, we should find ourselves like our Lord lost in the mystery and worship of the Father's house, continually blessing God for all that He has done for us.