In Our Father's House
In Luke 2:41-52, we read one of the only stories recorded of Jesus as a child. This story is unique, though, in that it does not tell of the birth of Jesus, but tells of Jesus as an adolescent. Take a moment, and read the story (click here for the text).
Mary and Joseph search for Jesus in exasperation. He is lost, and not only that, he is lost in a town and place that is not his hometown among people that he does not know, and on top of that, he has been lost for several days by the time his parents find him.
But Jesus is not anxious. Jesus is not exasperated. And this story has captured our attention for hundreds of years as readers of Scripture. We read this story and wonder how Jesus could (a) do this to his worried parents, and (b) how is it that Jesus is so comfortable in this scene?
Jesus appears confident, and the text even tells us that he is causing the people (adults and teachers of the Law) to be amazed at his understanding and his answers to questions about the text. Clearly, Jesus is outperforming expectations for people his age when it comes to reading and understanding the will of God.
Which leads me to the topic that we have begun this month at the Skillman Church of Christ: Being Known by Love. At the outset of this 2020 year, we set down at the Skillman Church of Christ to practice and give special attention to the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. And we have spent time with each of these virtues, having now begun the third this week, mostly looking at them individually and considering how they affect our lives and our practices as followers of Jesus on their own merits. However, they do not simply stand alone, with no consideration for the other two. They are built upon one another, and lead us in a progression of furthering our discipleship with Jesus.
We began the year attempting to pay special attention to matters of faith and faithfulness. We want our lives to be witness and testimony to the faith that we have in Jesus. But the Christian story does not end there. Because our Faith naturally leads us into a posture of Hope–a posture where we seek to bring about God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. And this Hope-filled lifestyle inevitably leads us to the virtue of Love. For we cannot have Hope and pass it on to others in a theoretical sense. Hope that leads to Love requires that we draw near to one another and that we draw near to those who need the message of Hope the most. Love is not just an abstract topic. It is a getting-your-hands-dirty, be-right-in-the-middle-of-the-action, draw-near-to-others kind of action.
And I share all this with you because this kind of Love will lead you to places you might never have thought you would be, and to situations that you never considered possible.
Like to a place where your parents (or insert other people in your life who care for you) wonder where you have gone and why you have done the thing that you have done. Well, in Jesus’ case in this passage in Luke 2:41-52, Jesus is in the Temple courts, discussing matters of the Law and of reading Scripture because he “must be in [his] Father’s house.”
This is a wonderful example of the theological virtues on display–and it also reminds us that Love can lead to difficult moments, and yet they are moments that are important, and when we choose to follow God, moments that we cannot pass up. Jesus stays in the Temple to discuss matters of Faith; he amazes and astonishes the listeners and participants in the conversation, perhaps providing them Hope for the life of a follower of the God of Israel; and Jesus displays Love for God and Love for Others by spending time with them and drawing near to them.
Jesus’ parents wonder how Jesus could do this to them–but as we see and continue to learn from the adult Jesus as the Gospel continues, we may wonder how Jesus could do anything else? Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, is in his Father’s house, loving God and loving his neighbor by Living by Faith and Advocating Hope. Throughout his life, Jesus will come to be known by the way that he treats those in need–with Love. May we as followers of Jesus Be Known by our Love. May we follow Jesus’ lead in loving well and loving often, even when (perhaps especially when) others wonder why we would do this.