Summary: God calls us to follow the model of Jesus and be real
All right… how many of you made new year’s resolutions? How many of you… have broken your new year’s resolutions? They, whoever they are, say that to break a habit, not an addiction, but a habit, takes 3 days. To establish a habit takes 30 days, which doesn’t mean that to do something good will require only 30 days of discipline, only that after 30 days the new habit will feel comfortable. So what’s it going to be? Are you going to: quit smoking… lose weight… gain weight… exercise… spend more time with your family?
There are some things that I want to accomplish but I’m not sure I’m calling them resolutions. I’m going to try again to minimize the coca-cola. I’m going to try to exercise three to five times a week. And if any of you great cooks would like to help me gain a few pounds feel free to invite me over for supper. I guess Tasha and the kids could come too.
But the only thing I would call a resolution this year, is not going to be so containable. By that I mean that I’m not sure that I will be able to quantify it so easily. If I only drink a couple of cokes a week, then that is going to be pretty easy to measure. If I do exercise for half an hour three to five times a week, that will be duly noted. And if I put on a few pounds this year, in the right places well I have a scale to give me a precise measurement. But what I really want to do this year is going to be hard to measure, maybe even hard to see. I can’t really plan for it. It will require discipline and integrity. It may not make me popular. It may not help my ministry… institutionally speaking. But if I’m successful, I may just breathe a bit easier and even sleep sounder….
I do have a resolution this year. And I’ll tell you about it, in just a moment. But right now I want to read to you a story about the young man Jesus. It’s the only story we have of Jesus as a child or young man. But it’s not just a cute story, included by Luke to lighten the load. There is purpose here. There is intent. There is a glimpse into the nature of Christ. There is a foreshadowing of just how far ahead of the game Jesus is, and still how far he will have to go… and to grow.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. 41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." 49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?" 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke returns the family to Nazareth and there Jesus grows. In fact Luke says he grows strong, that Jesus even at a young age is filled with wisdom, and that the grace of God is on him. Now don’t get me wrong. Wisdom and grace are worth noting and in doing so Luke seems to indicate something is special about Jesus. But it just seems so subtle, so plain. Its almost like you want Luke to tell us that Mary had to tie Jesus to his bed every night to keep him from floating away, or that Joseph wouldn’t let him wear his halo at the table. This story is the last we hear of Joseph and so we presume sometime between hear and Jesus’ ministry, Joseph died. And I think we all would love to read of the awe-inspiring story of how Jesus at 15 or 17 or whenever healed his father. I mean after all he healed Peter’s mother-in-law, a blessing I’m not sure Peter asked for. Don’t you want to read about how Jesus on the playground at his rabbinical school was rubbing some clay in his hands and accidentally or even purposefully made a snake? But Luke doesn’t take us there. He just tells us that Jesus grew strong, and with wisdom and grace.