God’s Word for December 14

Good morning! I’ve missed posting my daily devotions. As Christmas approaches the demands on my time have caused my neglect.  Our reading for Monday was Luke 2:41-52
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  NIV

Mary and Joseph were good observant Jews. They knew that if they were in reasonable proximity to Jerusalem and the temple they should attend to as frequent pilgrimages as they could. We know they took Jesus to the temple for spiritual dedication and I imagine circumcision. We substitute Christian baptism today. Luke tells us that they went every year for the celebration of Passover. It was year later that Jesus would celebrate the Last Supper which was a Passover meal with his disciples before his offering his life as the pascal lamb for our sins.

Our story picks up twelve years after his dedication and we find the holy family traveling by caravan from Nazareth to Jerusalem. The reason for this this trip was to celebrate the Passover but this trip was especially significant- it was the year of Jesus’ barmitzvah, the time he would be considered a man by the community. It would correspond to our intentions of Confirmation today.

Some things of note: Jesus proved himself extraordinarily astute and knowledgeable of the Scriptures. He astounded the teachers of the law by his knowledge. Every young boy going through his barmitzvah enjoyed the privilege of conversing with the teachers of the law if they should celebrate the occasion at the temple courts.  This showed how good Mary and Joseph were with providing his spiritual training as a child, but we should expect his exceptional aptitude because of who we know Jesus to be, God’s Son.

The second thing of note is how he remained behind in the temple when his family and their neighbors from Nazareth returned home. It was natural for Mary and Joseph to expect that Jesus would be amongst their neighbors and it seems particularly out of character for us to think he would cause them such concern by discovering he was missing. This was intended I believe by God to remind them both of just who their son was. It would have been easy to have fallen into the routine of a normal family, but there was nothing normal about their family. Jesus was God’s Son and they were privileged to be responsible for his care. However, God had a plan for Jesus’ life and they needed to be reminded to let go and allow him to fulfill his destiny.

As a parent and grandparent I recognize how I cannot micromanage my children and their children lives. I cannot secure the future of prosperity and personal success. I can teach and model the right values and practices that will place them in the position of greater physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, but they must accept the responsibility and the consequences of their own choices. Ultimately they belong to God. You and I can encourage and guide them but we cannot guarantee a successful future. As long as I have influence I can say as Joshua did, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24)

I am grateful God sent his Son to be my Savior, because I am not the parent or the grandparent I want to be. I recognize my complete dependence upon Jesus to guide me in the way of truth, his grace to cover my deficiencies, and his Spirit to attend to the needs of others I love but ultimately fail. This story challenges me to follow the example of a twelve year old Jesus to accept my responsibility to correctly know and apply the scriptures to life.

As Jesus accepted his adulthood so I must accept my adult responsibilities to follow God even should it mean breaking the conventions of contemporary culture.  Where should I expect others to find me but in my Father’s house where I will be reminded of the truth, find grace and be encouraged to follow more faithfully the Jesus he sent to lead me.  Jesus enters my life as a child, yet at some point I must grow up, man up, and take ownership for following the Way, the Truth, and the Life revealed to me.

Brian Homan, pastor
Liverpool First UM Church