January 3, 2016
Rev. Ross Mahan; Pastor
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be among us this day by your Spirit and Word.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Know ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
- When Jesus was twelve years old He gave his Mom quite a scare. The Holy family had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover as they did every year, and when the feast ended Mary and Joseph joined the family caravan for the return home to Nazareth, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not realize what He had done and supposing He was somewhere in the group hanging out with His cousins and friends they gave no thought to it. But at the end of the day they began to search for Him and when they couldn’t find Him among their family and neighbors they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. It took a few days but they finally found Him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers and theologians listening and asking questions and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and the answers He gave to them. When His parent’s saw Him they were amazed and said to Him: Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them: How is it that ye sought me? Know ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? (Lit: the things of my Father). For any other twelve year old to have said this to his parents would have been disrespectful but Jesus was not an ordinary twelve year old boy. He was God incarnate, a young man filled with divine wisdom and a divine mission to complete in the world, something He understood at age twelve.
- Jesus came to accomplish His Father’s will. Jesus is true God and true man in one person; Son of God and Son of Mary, fully divine and fully human. He is the only begotten Son of God sent from heaven, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary for us men and for our salvation. Jesus came into the world for a specific reason. Our text points to this purpose when we realize where Jesus was when He spoke these words. He was in the Temple, the place of God’s special presence; the dwelling place of God on earth. In the Old Covenant, believers came to the Temple to meet with God and so it was the most appropriate place for Jesus to be. When the Temple of Solomon was being dedicated we read that the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually (II Chron. 7:12-16).
- Sacrifices for sins were offered at the Temple, and it was here that God promised to meet with His people, forgive their sins and hear their prayers. When Jesus cleansed the Temple just before His crucifixion, He said to the merchants: It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves (Lu. 19:46). Jesus told a parable about a Publican who came to the Temple to find forgiveness and mercy from God. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified. (Lu. 18:13-14). The Temple was the outward symbol of God’s covenant with His people and the center of Jewish worship, where the priesthood interceded for the people, and the place where God’s Law and Promises were proclaimed. What was Jesus doing at the Temple that day? He was explaining and unfolding God’s Word to the leaders of the Jewish Church. Jesus came into the world to make God known to man. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus. He is the sum and substance of the entire Scriptures; the Word of God incarnate, the wisdom and power of God. The Lord has chosen to reveal Himself to man in His written Word and so God sent Jesus into the world to explain His Word to man. The knowledge of God is more than mere knowledge, it is divine wisdom that knows what to do with His knowledge.
- If you want to be wise, if you want the wisdom of God then seek the Lord Jesus Christ in His Word and He will give you understanding. You can find Jesus right here in the Temple, the true Church is God’s Temple where He has promised to be present in the preaching of His Word and the Holy Sacrament. This is the Father’s business Jesus was engaged in. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. Jesus saith unto them, My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.(Jn. 6:38; 4:34). I lay down my life, that I might take it again. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father (Jn. 10:17-18). It was necessary for Jesus to be in His Father’s House that day for He had come to do the will of His Father, to rescue and redeem mankind from the guilt of sin and death. Jesus respectfully reminded Mary and Joseph of something they should have already known. At the time of His conception the angel Gabriel said to Mary: He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: (Lu. 1:32). The words of Simeon to Mary and Joseph at the Temple foreshadowed His work in the world. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) (Lu. 2:34-35).
- Jesus accomplished everything His Father sent Him to do. How would Jesus accomplish His Father’s saving purpose? Twenty years later He would return to Jerusalem once again at the Passover to fulfill the Old Testament sacrifices and what the Passover Lamb signified. By His sacrifice on the cross, death would pass over us and we would be set free from sin, death, and hell. John the Baptist said of Jesus: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). The death of Christ did not just make salvation possible. On the cross, Jesus purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He accomplished redemption. Our debt is paid in full. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7). Jesus satisfied God’s Holy Law on behalf of sinners by His perfect life and paid the ultimate penalty of the Law by suffering the death that we deserved. He was the propitiation (the appeasement) for our sins and the sins of the whole world (I Jn. 2:2). His perfect life and death delivered us from divine wrath. Christ appeased the wrath of God that was against us once and for all. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I Jn. 4:10). Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Rom. 5:9). When Christ said on the cross: It is finished! These were not words of weakness or resignation, but words of triumph.
- The Greek word for it is finished, is the word tetelestai: It is accomplished. Ancient business documents from the Greek and Roman world of that time have been found, invoices and receipts for various things, and they are marked with this word: tetelestai, paid in full. The death of Christ objectively justified the entire world and pronounced God’s verdict of not guilty upon the world for the sake of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Subjective justification means that the benefits of God’s verdict of not guilty, become yours by faith. Christ has redeemed the entire world. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (I Tim. 2:5-6). Jesus tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). The doctrine of the objective justification is clearly revealed in Scripture. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:19). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-24). Here we see that all have sinned and that all those sinners are now justified. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Rom. 5:19). Objective Justification is the basis for Subjective Justification.
- If God had not justified the world through His Son and if this justification was not offered to men through the preaching of the Gospel, there could be no justification by faith. Only those who believe the promise of the Gospel are justified, but faith must have an object to which it clings, and that object is the Lord Jesus Christ and the objective justification He accomplished. When you hear the Gospel, how do you know the promise is for you? How do you know God is willing to forgive your sins? You can be sure your sins are forgiven and God has accepted you as His child because Christ has already reconciled the world, atoned for the sins of mankind and justified all men. In other words, salvation is a done deal, the payment for the sins of the world has been made, and all the sinner must do is accept this fact by faith. When he does, all the blessings Christ earned for him on the cross are given personally to him. Therefore the message of the Church to the world is not that God has done His part in saving you and now you must do your part, you must make a decision, pray a prayer, or invite Jesus into your heart. The message we proclaim is the word of reconciliation! God has already reconciled the world unto Himself and now offers this finished work to all men. Faith is not a work that we achieve, but the gift of God, given through the Word of the Gospel, that enables the sinner to reach out and receive for himself what God is offering him.
- Another question that arises concerning a person’s salvation is, how do I know whether or not I have actually received the forgiveness God has promised me? If I am trusting in my prayers, decisions, and good intentions that is a mighty shaky stick to lean on. Christ earned the treasures of the Gospel on the cross; by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12). So how does the Lord channel the benefits of His death and resurrection to us here today? A proper understanding of Objective Justification will help us understand the power of the Gospel and the Sacraments. Christ continues to come to His people through His objective Word and Sacraments to offer, seal, and apply the forgiveness of sins to our hearts and lives. The means of grace are objective, which means, they actually contain, offer and give to the believing sinner what they proclaim and promise. They are more than mere symbols of grace. It is Christ’s objective justification of the world that makes the word of the Gospel, Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Altar effective. So we can say with Paul: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (I Cor. 1:18). And we can say with the Apostle Peter: Baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:21).
- We confess with Jesus when He took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Mt. 26:26-28). All the treasures of the Gospel that Christ earned for the world on the cross are offered to all men in the simple preaching of the Gospel, in the waters of Baptism. And the believer receives the promise of forgiveness in the body and blood of Christ received under the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. Christ came into the world to deal with sin once and for all on the cross. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin (I Jn. 3:5). Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28). His death redeemed and reconciled the world to God and now He continues to call sinners to repentance and to invite us to come to Him for rest. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly Jn. 10:10b). Christ has promised to receive all who come to Him by faith. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (Jn. 6:37). All of the promises of the Gospel are made certain for Christ has already accomplished our salvation. May God grant us faith to receive His promise of forgiveness for Christ’s sake; Amen.