“You long for what you already have…” I watch people searching for peace, answers, satisfaction, desiring rest…. You already have what you need! You are discontent, wanting more, wear a path searching for that elusive something to make your life complete, and not realizing that what you are longing for is already within your grasp.
Today’s scripture is a story with a purpose. The only story in the gospels from Jesus’ boyhood, Jesus is showing us how to enlarge our view of God in our lives, to grasp God who is waiting for us to see…to be at home with God.
Discontentedness is a curse of our age. Unrest. Hurriedness. Incompleteness. It turns out that what we long for is within our grasp. We need God. An awareness of Christ takes time, listening, asking questions, patience… and the irony, we long for what we already have…God is waiting…
The reality of being a parent comes into the story. It’s a humbling role. Do you know what the job of a parent is? To get rid of your kids! As soon as your children are born, the goal is to help them grow, aid in their maturity, so they can leave home.
As parents, foster parents, relatives, teachers, friends of children we are concerned for their well being. We are to teach them, ensure their health and safety. Yet our children must discover for themselves a relationship with God. No parent can force children to be Christians, but what a joy when that happens. In the case of Jesus, the child outpaces the parents in his understanding, disciplines.// Joseph and Mary are raising their children in a devout God-fearing home, but Jesus finds a depth beyond what they have experienced.
Growing up means establishing our identity and figuring out our place in this world. It involves creating relationships, setting priorities, making decisions. And the most important decision of all: your relationship with God. We must choose values and beliefs that structure our lives. Ultimately, growing up means moving out and finding a new home. Be at home with God. I love the way the scripture highlights being at home with God: “Did you not know I had to be in my father’s house?”
The scripture begins, Luke 2:41 with an announcement that the family of Jesus went to Jerusalem Passover. Passover is the big celebration of the Jews, even today. The feast/holiday commemorates the time the Jews were in captivity of the Egyptians in the time of Moses. Time after time Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the people go, and time after time a plague was sent, the 10th and final plague was the death angel killing the first born male. The Jews were told to sacrifice a lamb, and paint blood on the doorway, and the angel of death would Passover those homes ~ God allowed a substitute. Jesus is a boy at the time of this particular Passover celebration, later, as a man, Jesus would become the ultimate Passover lamb, shedding his own blood, so that whoever accepts him will be spared.
Jesus is twelve years old (Luke 2:42). Twelve is significant because he is not yet 13. // What happens in the Jewish culture at age 13? Coming of age, bar mitzvah. In our own culture we see 13, the start of the teen years, as a significant stage of development, 12 is a child, 13 is a teenager, with a foot in two worlds of child and adult. Jesus is 12, a child by almost all standards of all cultures.
The age of 12 highlights the extraordinary maturity of wisdom of Jesus. Some people get it early, or others it takes longer. Wherever you are in your relationship with Christ is where you are no matter your age. So what if it takes some to learn the lessons of God longer than others.…it’s your heart that matters. The patterns of celebrating Passover, reading the Bible, going to church, prayer are awesome, as long as we never forget it is the attitude of the heart that matters most. A person could get baptized as a formality, but it’s your heart that is of most importance.
In the book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, “Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant gratification is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” In talking of the disciplines Foster says, “By themselves the spiritual disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.”
Going to celebrate Passover by itself is a good party, a time to enjoy friends, but Jesus, at the young age of 12, understands there is more depth. He goes to the temple to experience God. The fact Jesus is 12 clearly shows us that while 13 is a formal time of transition, that which is really important is what happens in your heart when you are ready… I grew up in this church when the world was a different… not nearly as much coming and going in society, the community… families raising children together, the Sunday School program saw several generations of children go through each of the grades step by step so that I graduated with half a dozen friends that started in the early years of Sunday School. I was baptized at 16, partly at a later age than many peers at the time because I did not want to be baptized at a younger age afraid that I was doing it just to do it… I wanted it to mean something real beyond the act of baptism…
Jesus is 12, and he shows as a child he gets it, he gets that a relationship with God the father is more important than anything else… it’s your heart that matters, we long for what we already have, not realizing how very close the answer is… Where does this longing come from? Ps. 42:1-2 says, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” The longing comes from within, the longing comes from the spirit of God… a need for God to fill the spiritual thirst. desire God, do not give up… keep desiring/longing… I don’t always worry a lot about people who talk to me about their desperation in their spirit, longing for spiritual rest.
Understandably, Joseph and Mary are in a panic when they discover Jesus is not with them. This is not strange –travel with a crowd, extended families, each assumed Jesus was with a different person…READ Luke 2:44. So they returned to Jerusalem (Luke 2:45). They finally found Jesus in the temple courts, conversing with the teachers of the law, not what the parents expected. Mary’s question is not surprising to us: READ Luke 2:48. It is no surprise Mary would be in a panic. Mary’s first words, “Child, why have you treated us like this?” What I hear is, “Where have you been young man? Your father and I did not survive angel visits, birth in a manger, and living like refugees in Egypt only to have you get lost in Jerusalem.” But Jesus isn’t the one who is lost. He knows who he is and where he belongs. Mary and Joseph are the ones who are lost. And of course, there is a real sense that Mary and Joseph should not have assumed…
Today’s scripture is a single story with a purpose, teaching an amazing lesson: Be at Home with God, God is within your grasp. The key is Luke 2:49-50 READ. They didn’t quite understand at that moment… “I am centered in God, the father…” Jesus is saying, and he’s within your grasp... The keys you are racing around the house looking for are on your belt loop….
When you move to God’s home, it does not mean a geographical relocation, but a reprioritizing of your relationship with God so that in everything God is at the center. Later, in Luke 5:27, Jesus says to one of the disciples, “Follow me.” Make a new home. Be at home in my presence, my ministry, my priorities. At home with God.
What a wonderful shift Jesus makes. Mary says, “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” And Jesus says, “Did you not know I had to be in my father’s house?” Same word ~ Father. Jesus uses the same name for his earthly father as he does for his heavenly father, daddy, a word of intimacy, a loving title, a personal title. This is what all parents should want for their children, I don’t want my children ultimately to depend on me, but to see God as father, to embrace God, to know he cares, a loving father in heaven. This is no slight of Jesus earthly father, but rather, it is a realization of the goal, to grow, mature and move into a new home. What’s the goal of parents? To get rid of their children and move to a new home: no better home than with God ~ a relationship of trusting God and loving God and embracing God.
The story ends with a wonderful affirmation of Jesus earthly home and heavenly home; READ Luke 2:50-52. “they did not understand”, yet they continued journey to earthly home, Jesus is obedient. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man… there’s the key, God and man… growing in God, yet a citizen of this world.
This is a story with a purpose… Mary’s response is surely meant for all of us… “his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” You may not get what’s going on in your life, perhaps not as mature in your faith as you would like. You could spend time kicking yourself for falling and sinning or making bad decisions. Upset with yourself for giving too much, allowing yourself to be taken advantage of you, allowing yourself to be drained. Do what Mary does. Mary finds peace, even though she does not fully understand. Mary treasures the fact that her son Jesus has found a relationship with God she has not grasped. Jesus words do not instantly transform his parents, but instead of kicking herself, Mary treasures the vision she has received. She does not fully grasp the idea of God as a father, but she has had a glimpse of the possibility, and that glimpse-is-a-treasure.
We long for that which we already have. Jesus, even at the age of 12, is at home with God. If you have not yet found that comfort level with God, don’t be upset for what you don’t have, but rather, treasure that which is coming. Being at home with God is within your grasp. Treasure it. You will get there… you can find a home of comfort, a home of rest, a home of peace and understanding. Amen.