The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, January 10, 2016

The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2016. Luke 2:41-52.
The Boy Jesus in the Temple



The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2016

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central Standard Time

The Hymn # 277                      I Heard the Voice       
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual             Romans 12:1-5
The Gospel                                 Luke 2:41-52       
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #660                  Heaven Is My Home  

Comfort Found with the Father

The Hymn #130                        O Jesus King of Glory    
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #267                         If God Had Not                       

KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 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. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 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. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 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. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 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. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.



Comfort Found with the Father, Not with the World

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 

First we see an important detail about the Holy Family and Jerusalem. They went up to Jerusalem to the Passover feast annually. That means Jesus was not a stranger to Jerusalem, someone who suddenly showed up as an adult when His public ministry began. We also see that the very place where His life was in danger became the holy city He visited each year. God removed the danger for a time, because the time was not yet right.

Those who wanted to force the issue in His public ministry and make Him a king were ill-advised by their own imaginations. They thought they could make it happen when God's own calendar controlled the issues.

The Word also shows that Jesus was in danger immediately and of course 30 years later when Thomas spoke of all of them dying together in Jerusalem. The cross did not pass from Joseph and Mary because of the special role they played. As Luther wrote in his second sermon about this passage, God kept Mary humble through these many trials, because it was tempting for anyone to be proud and demand honors for being the mother of the Messiah. Mary was elevated to deity status (immaculate, without any sin) in the years following the Council of Ephesus, about 400 AD. From that time on the Medieval Church heaped honors on Mary and transferred the attributes of Christ (mercy, patience, love) to her and made Him the angry judge.

43 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. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

The point makes here is part of the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures. Joseph and Mary did not find Jesus because they looked in the wrong place. They looked for Him where they expected not for Him being with the Father. And that is a good explanation, since Jesus said, without apology, "I must be about My Father's business."

This story, unique in the Gospels, only one of His childhood, deals with anxiety, among other things. Something very great and wonderful is happening - Jesus is opening Himself to the great and wise in the Temple. They cannot miss His transcending wisdom and knowledge. God revealed the Gospel in His Son before the very ones who might fear and oppose Him, but also those who might be among the ones verifying the fact of the Messiah. I doubt whether the time between the Dedication and the appearance in the Temple was so great that they forgot the stir caused by Simeon and Anna. "Could this be the one?"

And yet, Joseph and Mary were consumed with their loss, their fears, and their anger with Jesus for being so thoughtless. Children do tend to be completely in their own universe at times, oblivious - but that is not the case here. We are not to see this from an ordinary perspective but from God's. Jesus must carry out this particular mission, for days, while Joseph and Mary must understand the inexplicable.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 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. 

Paul was so consumed with anxiety that he felt it as death. How can that be? God allows His own to suffer so much at times so they see His mercy and kindly attitude toward them.  It is Satan who afflicts us with such questions as - How can God allow this? Why does God treat you so badly? 

Luther:
21. Thus the prophet David confesses that he was compelled to learn this lesson, Psalm 30:6-7; “I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.

Thou didst hide thy face, I was troubled.” And St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 complains of the great affliction that befell him in Asia, saying: “We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life; yea, we ourselves have had the answer of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” And in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 he says that there was given him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, that he should not be too highly exalted, on account of the great revelation which he had received; and that God would not remove this, although he had prayed thrice, but had to cling to the consolation which God afforded him, namely, that he should be satisfied with his grace and by means of it overcome his weakness. Therefore, such a trial of the saints is as necessary or even more necessary than food and drink, in order that they may remain in fear and humility, and learn to adhere alone to the grace of God.
22. Secondly, God permits his saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed. 

Paul's anxiety was doubtless from the destructive actions of the opponents within the small group and the enormous power of the Roman Empire which saw Christians as a tribe of Jews looking for more trouble. No matter what the real danger and alarm, our minds can magnify it, especially when we look for answers in those things familiar and comforting to us.

The rage to buy lottery tickets is one example. People imagine winning a billion dollars but not the troubles that come from that event. And they do not stop to think they are taking it from those who had similar hopes. I have read biographies of the great, famous, and successful - Rockefellers, Melons, Our Crowd (German Jewish families of NYC), JP Morgan, Vanderbilts, Fords, etc. They were able to spend a lot more money than most, but they had gigantic troubles to face, too, including living up to the legacy of their famous families. How does one top being a governor, a captain of industry, a friend of presidents and royalty? That also eats away at people.

Joseph and Mary did not find the answer to their troubles until they turned back to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the Temple, listening to the great scholars and asking them questions. 

I have dealt with a lot of students, and these two qualities always give away how intelligent and well educated they are. Several faculty asked me, "Did you know your new freshman entered with two years of college credit?" I answered, "Did I notice the thousand watt bulb? Yes."

So this experience changed Joseph and Mary from their adult role to that of believers and followers.




47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 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.

So the first question is, How can God treat us this way? This the answer that all minsters and their families must deal with, and also many members within the congregation. The mountain of difficulties and needless pain can pile up so much that one can easily conclude like Job, "I may be sinful but not that sinful."

Luther:
24. Again, such examples are intended to serve as a means of comfort for alarmed and anxious consciences, when they see that God has attacked not only them, but also the most exalted saints and permitted them to suffer the same trials and anxieties. For if we had no examples in Scripture, showing that these things happened to the saints, we would not be able to endure, and timid consciences would be led to cry out: Yea, I alone am compelled to endure these sufferings; when did God permit the pious and holy ones to be thus tempted? Hence, it must be a sign that God will have nothing to do with me. But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with his saints and did not spare even his own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until he helps us, even as he has helped all his saints.

25. In the third place, we note the true reason why God does this, namely, in order that he may teach his saints to seek true comfort and prepare themselves that they may find Christ and keep him. The principal part of this Gospel lesson is to teach us how and where we are to seek and find Christ. So the text says that Mary and Joseph sought the child Jesus for three days without finding him, neither in Jerusalem, nor among their friends and acquaintances, until they came to the temple where he sat among the teachers and where the Scriptures and God’s Word are studied.


The fact is, we begin with a material and logical view of everything. This is enforced by most of the advice we hear from others. One mistake is to go back and figure out what would have happened if we had done B instead of A. But that only means we want the good things from action B without getting the good results from action A. This is the kind of emotional torment that all people go through at times, in one way or another, but not always to the same degree. 

We have a FB friend, a former student, whose beloved daughter goes through extreme seizures at various times. The girl has had the best medical care - she is on the far extremes of what medications can do. And yet these seizures continue.
If an illness does not wear us down, the drawn out length does. And still the mother enjoys her daughter so much. Our point of contact is that I began telling her about our daughters' seizures. Nothing I said could really help, but it was a common experience of anguish and helplessness. That helped her get through the first stages. Now she is graduating with a master's degree, straight As. She should not be doing so well. Many students drop out for various reasons, minor glitches in their lives. This mother pushes on while devoting herself to her child's care. 

These experiences confirm people in their Christian faith. As our sainted member Brenda once said, "I don't have anything else but Christ. I cannot even take care of myself." She was brilliant and smart enough to know how much was closed off to her because of multiple health problems from degenerative disorders. That turned all her attention to helping others. 

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 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. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

If we know where someone is, we do not look for that person. We simply go to where that person is. Joseph and Mary did not comprehend this when it was said, because they needed more time to adjust to their role and His. 

They took the correct step when they looked for Him in the Temple. That is why I correct students who speak of the Christian life without mentioning the Gospel or without mentioning the Word. "You speak of Jesus but where do you find Him except in the Word of God?" Or I speak of following the Good Shepherd from trust and love, nipped in the heels by the shepherd dog of the Law when we stray.

The reason I do this is to bring them back to the efficacy of the Word and to emphasize the Gospel so it is not neglected or lowered in priority. 

We look for comfort in the wrong places, and look for strength rather than weakness. The Gospel is not for the great and mighty, for the worldly wise, but for those who need the balm of forgiveness and the constant reminder of God's mercy and love.