The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017. Luke 2:41-52.



The First Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson



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 Hymn #660              Heaven Is My Home  

God Reveals Himself in Christ

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.

http://www.normaboecklerart.com

God Reveals Himself in Christ

KJV Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 

These historical notes in the narrative fill in details that we should not take for granted. Going to Jerusalem was a regular part of the family's plans, so Jesus was exposed to the city and Jerusalem saw Him every year, although they did not know the importance of that at first.

This bears on His trial, because Jesus was not a stranger but a regular visitor, including during His public minister.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 

In his sermon Luther emphasizes that Mary had many sorrows in her life, starting with His birth in a strange town and the neglect of the family during such a trying time for anyone, especially a new mother. The path toward her blessed eternal life was marked with the cross, which is a lesson for everyone. No believer is spared, though many run from it.

To give Jesus time to reveal His divinity to the Jewish leaders, these events had to happen. No one can imagine saying, "You go on your way. I will stay and talk to the leaders of Israel about their future - and Mine."

To carry out His work, God has certain events happen, which seem to annoy and inflict pain upon believers, although it is ultimately good for all people. What seems to be indifference on God's part is actually His love. If God were controlled and limited by our wishes, He would not be God and countless blessings would be hidden or gone from our grasp.

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.

This is a story that any child can understand because children do these things on their own and become aware of the fright of their parents. So there is no better way to instill the drama of this event on children or upon the parents who remember something similar - or even scarier.

We have friends whose little girl left the house and ended up in the middle of the busiest street. Needless to say, that put them in a panic. I asked the girl, "Weren't you afraid of the cars?" She said calmly, "No they zoomed around me." 

Likewise our neighbor's boy escaped his house went over to play with the neighbor's pitbulls (through the fence openings). He got confused as he headed back and went to the busiest intersection a block away. Sassy and I power-walked to him and led him back to his mother. A driver also moved his car to keep the tiny boy from waking into traffic. When we got home and the mother realized the father was not doing his job of watching at the moment, we heard a stream of Laotian words across the street for a long time.

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. 

In just a few words we have an explanation for this taking place with Jesus. Joseph and Mary assumed Jesus was in the group traveling back, with his cousins and friends. They did not look for Him for an entire day. That meant the way back was uphill (an important detail) and filled with frantic seeking for the lost boy.

Luther:
3. One of them is related here, when her son caused her so much anxiety, by tarrying behind in the temple and letting her seek him so long, and she could not find him. This alarmed and grieved her so that she almost despaired, as her words indicate: “Behold, thy father and I, sought thee sorrowing.” For we may well imagine that thoughts like these may have passed through her mind: “Behold this child is only mine, this I know very well, and I know that God has entrusted him to me and commanded me to take care of him; why is it then that he is taken from me? It is my fault, for I have not sufficiently taken care of him and guarded him. Perhaps God does not deem me worthy to watch over this child and will take him from me again.” She was undoubtedly greatly frightened and her heart trembled and was filled with grief.

4. Here you see what she experienced. Although she is the mother of a child in whom she might have gloried before all mothers, and although her joy was immeasurably greater than any she had ever felt, yet you perceive how God deprives her of all happiness, in that she can no longer call herself the mother of Jesus. In her great dismay she probably wished, she had never known her child and was tempted to greater sins than any mother had ever committed.

5. In the same manner the Lord our God can take from us our joy and comfort, if he so desires, and cause us the greatest sorrow with the very things that are our greatest joy, and, on the other hand, give us the greatest delight in the things that terrify us most. For it was the greatest joy of Mary that she was the mother of this child, but now he has become the cause of her greatest sorrow. Thus we are afraid of nothing more than of sin and death, yet God can comfort us so that we may boast, as St. Paul says in Romans 7, that sin served to the end that we became justified and that we longed for death and desire to die.

 The foreground is wreckage from the Joplin tornado,
a few years ago - 2011.

Luther understood and appreciated the paradoxical (seemingly contradictory) truths of the Word of God. He did not understand parental grief entirely until he experienced it himself. He realized in his life that God allows believers to suffer so that they long for eternal life rather than clinging to the material blessings of this life. Unbelievers want to live forever and fear death. Some famous people have had themselves flash frozen so they can thaw out in a better world.

One of our friends, the daughter of a classmate, has a special child with a severe disability. I often write to her family about appreciating such children all the more for their disabilities.

In fact, parents have loved seeing their children meet Sassy, who is so gentle, loving, and happy, in spite of having only three legs.

So here, in this lesson, we have a unique family with a problem all too common for most parents - a child is lost. Suddenly, nothing else matters. They are weighed down and consumed by the task of finding the child again.

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

First they asked around in the most logical places. "Has anyone seen our boy?" Each "no" creates even more anguish. I have to mention - again - that my family left my sister at a gas station. I noticed the absence of her voice and said so. My mother said - assuming - "She is in the front seat with you." I said, "No she is not." During that time driving and all the way back, with no phones, my sister was wondering if we would return. Likewise, my parents were in a lather about being forgetful.

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. 

They used their logic to find Him and that compounded their anxiety. Not having an answer only increases the fears and fuels the imagination. Three days passed before they searched in the least likely place - the great Temple. There was Jesus listening to the great scholars and talking to them.

We can see with great clarity that this was God's plan, that Jesus reveal Himself to the leaders of Israel, to increase the knowledge of the Messiah being present and prepare them for His ministry. The first manifestation was His presentation in the Temple. This is the second one. To give the leaders of Israel a complete understanding of Jesus as the Son of David, God gave them days to hear Him and and ask Him questions.

We can see how this event bore fruit later, although it gave Joseph and Mary great sorrow. Nicodemus was a leader among them and came to
Jesus at night...secretly. Jesus converted him through the spoken Word.
John 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
Isaiah 53: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 

This fulfilled the Scriptures that the Messiah would die in a horrible way, for our sins, as a criminal, and yet be buried as a rich man.

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. 

This is an important climax to the story, because we see once again that the Word provides a remedy against future false doctrine. The Mary, Queen of Heaven, Queen of Purgatory language of Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy contradicts the clear testimony of the Scriptures. Mary was uniquely blessed, but she was a sinner like us and prone to the same weaknesses and temptations we are.

The Roman dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (featured in The Song of Bernadette) teaches that Mary never committed an actual sin her entire life. When I asked an Eastern Orthodox priest about this, he dithered and dodged and finally admitted they agreed with Rome about this and Purgatory.

Luther:
13. The words of Luke “and they understood not the saying which he spake unto them” are especially to be noted here. With these words he silenced the idle talk of those who exalted and praised the Virgin Mary too highly, asserting that she knew everything and could not err. For you see here how the Lord permits her to seek her child for a long time in vain, till she finds him in the temple after three days. In addition to this, Jesus seems to reprimand her when he says: “How is it that ye sought me? knew ye not that I must be in my Father’s house?” She understood not the saying which he spake to her. Consequently all the idle talk to which we have referred is nothing but falsehood, and the Virgin Mary does not need this fabricated and mendacious praise. God concealed much from her and led her through many trials, so that she might remain humble and not think herself better than others.

30. Let us then be prepared for their representations and expostulations to the effect that the Christian church can not err, so that we may know how to meet them, and say: Here is not the word of man, but the Word of God.

We read in this Gospel that his mother, Mary, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and yet she erred. Likewise we read in the Acts that there was a Christian council of such who believed and who had the Spirit, and yet they stumbled and would have established an unchristian law, if others had not protested. We should therefore not believe any council or, saint, if they come without the Word of God. This is then the sum total of this Gospel, and if anything else is to be said on it, we will let those explain it who have leisure; but he who studies it faithfully, will easily understand it.


Besides that, it is good to note that Luther did grow up with the cult of Mary and continued in some of that language, but he did not stay with it as the Gospel permeated all of his teaching. Roman Catholics use ignorance about Luther to attract pastors and laity into this belief, that Luther also taught the same things then as they do now.

If Mary and the Council of Jerusalem could err, then are current synods are equally capable of error. "Synod says" is not the same as "The Word of God says" and people must remember that. The Bereans tested all teaching with the Word, and we must keep that as the only ultimate authority.

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.

Mary was  with the apostles in Jerusalem, and Luke wrote Acts, so we see a continuity with Luke-Acts and the family-like tone of these two works.