I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase, “Out of the mouth of babes.” It has origins in Psalm 8:2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” That psalm has always seem to been the case, because kids, namely little kids, tend to say the darndest things. Looking at today’s text from Luke, we see that case proven once again.
The last we saw of Jesus, He was brought to the temple to be circumcised and dedicated. Today when we see Jesus, He is 12 years old. The Holy Family is off to Jerusalem for their annual celebration of the Passover festival. Everything was like it had always been for as long as they had come to Jerusalem: celebrate the Passover and return home. Why should this year be any different?
The Feast had ended and the Holy Family had packed everything up on the means of transportation and joined the caravan of family and friends and departed Jerusalem. People would peel off along the way, returning to their respective towns and would resume their daily lives. For Joseph, that meant he would return to his work as a carpenter. You can imagine that there was a fairly large number of people in the caravan, people traveling with other friends and family, as this might be one of the few times a year that you would see everyone. For you to be traveling with another part of the caravan wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. And so Joseph and Mary travelled home a day’s journey and discovered that Jesus was nowhere to be found. Back to Jerusalem they go.
Even after the Passover busyness had ended, Jerusalem was still full of people and that meant because of the crowds, it would take a while to find Jesus. After the first day of searching, no Jesus. After the second day of searching, no Jesus. Surely their luck was going to improve on the third day. Luke doesn’t record when on the third day they found Jesus, other than the fact He was found. Where He was found might have seemed like an unlikely place for some, but the obvious place for others. He was found in the temple.
While Jesus was in the temple, just what was He doing? According to Luke, Jesus was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Now, the first part of what Luke says wasn’t surprising. Jesus was 12 years old. That meant He would have been of the age of study so listening to the teachers of the law and asking questions would not have been out place. However, it’s the second part of Luke’s account that is out of place. Everyone who heard Jesus was amazed at His understanding and answers. Jesus was nothing more than a mere child. He had no right to be doing anything other than listening and definitely not doing anything resembling teaching.
What Luke does offer is a glimpse of Jesus beginning to make the break from some familial claims in order to commit Himself more closely to God. Here is the successful movement of Jesus out of the crib and into the world. He leaves the circle of His parents and the protection of His mother’s arms and enters a great big world of need. It might have been easier to stay sheltered in the warmth of parental attachment than to enter the world of sin and death. But Jesus has come of age. He has found His voice and taken His place. And that voice and place, we learn, are “in my Father’s house.”
Remember earlier when I said “out of the mouth of babes?” That’s Jesus at the temple. When Mary makes a fuss of looking for Jesus and how they were treated, He responds, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In these short utterances of Jesus we see the beginning of His break away from familial attachments in order to identify more intimately with God the Father. He is doing so in the immediate presence of His parents, presumably for the first time. His commitment to the Father now transcends His love for the family. Jesus knows that He is here for a purpose – to do the Father’s will.
Jesus’ words not only convict Mary and Joseph, but they also convict us. We too try to search for Jesus and can’t find Him. We find ourselves with Mary and Joseph in that we too are looking in the wrong places. Jesus said, “ I must be in my Father’s house.” Never the less, we look among the things of this world. We look to earthly security, wealth, power, popularity, and so forth. We look for Jesus everywhere He is not.
Today, we must be our Father’s house looking for Jesus. We need to look for Him in worship, where His Word is proclaimed, and His gifts are given – in the absolution, in the waters of Baptism, and in the Holy Supper which He lays before us every Sunday for our refreshment, and for our forgiveness, and for our blessing, and our strengthening. Here, in His holy Word. Here, in His body and blood is where you need to look. Here in the fellowship of His people – His holy body – is where He is to be found, and nowhere else.
All the work that Christ does for the Father culminates on the cross. That’s where the true intersection takes place between God and man. It takes place in Christ on the cross. Holy, perfect, and almighty God Himself gave up all of heaven in order to come down to this fallen and sinful world and take on our fallen and sinful flesh. However, Christ—in the flesh—did what fallen and sinful man can never do, no matter how hard we try. Christ Jesus lived the perfect life. He kept every one of God’s laws perfectly. He did this for us, in our place, precisely because we cannot do this. Christ Jesus took every single sin of the entire world upon Himself, taking every single one of those sins to the cross so that they would be put to death, once and for all.
This account of Jesus today gives for us a wonderful illustration of Jesus and His dedication to the work of His Father, even from the earliest of ages. He is about the Father’s work from the very beginning of His life until His death. In today’s Gospel, we might be tempted to say that Jesus was lost. In fact, Jesus was exactly where He was supposed to be. It was really Mary and Joseph who were lost. In a similar way, we are also lost – lost in our trespasses and sins. It is God who finds us and places us among the things of the Father. There the Holy Spirit works faith and makes us people of the Father. Since Jesus said, “ I must be in my Father’s house,” that means we are with Jesus. That is exactly where we are supposed to be. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.