The Second Sunday after Christmas – Series C – Luke 2:40-52
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Anxiety and frustration are delicate, yet explosive things.
They start out small, a passing worry here, or an anxious thought there,
But then of course, our worries and anxieties tend to pile up, they begin to snowball out of control and quickly become a fury and rage inside of us, that we never thought possible.
In Luke chapter 2, St. Mary is feeling the guilt and anxiety at having left her 12 year old son in a crowded city, during the largest festival of the year, unattended for three days.
What probably started out small, has now, after 3 hectic days, become much more than she can handle.
As Mary finally discovers Jesus sitting in the Temple, asking and answering questions as if nothing has happened, her anxiety begins to boil over, her frustration turns into anger.
She’s upset, and it’s Jesus who’s made her feel this way, it’s his fault, and so Mary lashes out.
The mother of our Lord rebukes him, saying, “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been looking for you in great distress”
How much you and I have in common with St. Mary.
How quick we are to believe that our anger and rage is entirely the fault of the ones we’re angry with.
How easily we turn the blame onto those we yell at, all the while thinking ourselves to be blameless and innocent.
We are the ones who choose our own reactions. We might be provoked, but that doesn’t excuse us or take the blame away from us.
No one makes you feel angry. Rather we give into our own anger. We indulge it, we feed off of it, we let it run its course; it is our own pride that makes us become angry.
Sometimes, to be sure, we’ve been and are the victims.
But we add to the hurt and hurt ourselves with bad responses to bad behavior, with anger, with gossip, and even with panic.
Having been irresponsible with her own son, Mary now makes it worse by panicking and then blaming Him.
And yet, when the true Son of God has the chance to answer, he himself does not panic, he doesn’t exchange blame and anger with his mother, he doesn’t yell or rage back at Mary and Joseph who left him Jerusalem.
Instead, his rebuke is gentle.
For it is true that Christ does rebuke his mother, saying, “Why were you looking for me?” which in part, means, “How is it that I came to be lost? What went wrong? Whose responsibility was that?”
But it also says something infinitely more profound. For it hints at the answer that Christ wants Mary, and you and I to have, the comfort that He has come to give.
For in truth, they are looking for him not just because He is under their care, but also because He is their Savior.
In the midst of all anger, anxiety and fear; it is in seeking him, finding him, and being found in him, that there is true peace and comfort.
And to get that peace, we have to keep going, we have to see exactly what Jesus would have us see, as this next bit of Christ’s rebuke has its own bite, and yet its own comfort as well.
With these words, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House”, Christ would have us remember that contrary to St. Mary’s heated accusation, Joseph is not His true Father.
With these words, Our Lord confesses who He is and what He is about.
He must be among His Father’s things.
And here at this point in our reading, we find that all of our English translations fall short of what is actually being said.
The English Standard Version, the translation found in our bulletin, reads, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”, whereas the New King James Version isn’t any better as it says, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
But St. Luke never records the word ‘house’ or ‘business’ in the text. And neither does the first person phrase, “I must be” ever appear in Luke chapter 2.
Rather, what St. Luke, literally records is this: “Did you not know that it is necessary for me to be among My Father’s things?”
The difference may not seem like much on the surface, but it actually changes everything.
For it is indeed necessary, to keep the “it is necessary” that Luke records.
This language of “necessity” is the same language that Jesus will use again and again throughout the Gospels, when pointing to his passion and crucifixion.
Therefore, when we hear the words, “it is necessary”, we are to see the crucified Christ, the needful work of God to redeem, gather, and reclaim his people…for no other solution will do…it is indeed necessary.
And even beyond that, the language of necessity points us not only forward to the cross, but also backwards to the Old Testament.
It is necessary, because Isaiah foretold it, it is necessary, because Adam and Eve were promised it, it is necessary, because it has been on the lips of the mouth of God since the very beginning.
It is necessary, and even here, even on the lips of the 12 year old Christ, the road to the cross is already in view.
Jesus knows who he is. He never has to be told this, he never has to learn it or discover it. This is what it means that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
It means that he has always been God, from the nativity, to the temple, to the baptism by John, the Word made flesh has always known what he is to be about.
And since he knows what he is to be about, he also knows perfectly well, where he is to remain…to remain for you, for me, for Mary and Joseph.
And so with this, we now step a bit further into that second problem with what appears in our English Bibles; the matter concerning the House and the business of the Father.
Where a House may tells us where Christ is, the Father’s Business tells us what He is doing…but neither really get us to where need to go.
A spot on the map is not enough, and neither is a simple action.
As Luke records it, Jesus says that he is to be found AMONG his Father’s THINGS.
Not house, not business, but things.
Which means that we must ask, “What are these ‘things’ of the Father? What purpose do they serve? And why must Jesus be found among them?”
In the Temple, we find the lampstand, the incense of the prayers ascending, the altar for burnt offerings, the things of sacrifice; the things that declare God’s people clean through blood, reconciling them as His true children.
Not just a place, not just an action, but a full and complete redemption, the very flesh and bones of forgiveness.
For the entire purpose of the Temple, and every ‘thing’ of the Father found in it, is to make the way secure, between God’s people and himself. It is Holy Communion…God with us, God for us, God save us.
And so it is here that we find the final power of Christ’s words, the comfort that he desires to give.
For he is not simply there near and around the things of the Father…the entire point is that this what He is.
He is one of the Temple things, one of His Father’s things used for cleansing and forgiving the people.
The point…is that He is the thing.
He is found where He belongs.
Not simply in his Father’s house, but on the Altar, as the Priest, and as the Victim, truly, as the forgiveness and salvation of mankind himself.
And, if we have ears to hear, let us also consider this on top of them all; Mary and Joseph find the Christ on the third day.
This is not an accident, it isn’t a coincidence. St. Luke isn’t just foreshadowing the resurrection yet to come in 20 more years, he’s also telling us where to find the Christ.
For in reality, you and I live in the third day, we live in the day of resurrection, the life of Christ that never ends.
Where is Jesus?
He is among His Father’s things.
For it is necessary, it is needed for him to be there. It is where He belongs.
Found on the altar, as the priest, as the host, as the washing, and as the food.
Where is He?
He is present in His Body and Blood, in His Holy Word, in His gathered people, in the preaching of His Gospel, and the Holy Absolution.
You can be sure of it, for he says it himself.
And though we may come into this place full of worry, fear, anxiety and even anger, his Word to us, as it was for St. Mary, remains the same; full of mercy and filled with true peace.
Here in the true things of God, he remains, the one who welcomes you back, takes your burdens upon himself, exchanges your sin for his body and blood and keeps you in his faith; the lasting comfort of true peace with God.
Where is Jesus? He is here, for He has said it, He has promised it, and He has finished it: it is for you.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.