Summary: The twelve year old Jesus gives us a New Year’s resolution to strive for in 2004
Luke 2:41-52 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: TO BE ABOUT MY FATHER’S BUSINESS
We have come to that time in the year again when people are talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Have you made any yet, for the year ahead? Where did that tradition come from anyway, making New Year’s Resolutions? It actually started a long long time ago, in the nation of Babylon. They always ended the year by resolving to do things that they should have done the year before. Their resolutions were more simple, and more easy to keep, than the ones we make today: “I resolve to return the farm equipment I borrowed last month,” would be an example you might hear.
Today, we make resolutions about losing weight, exercising more, spending more time with family – things that sound good, but are hard to keep. What are your New Year’s resolutions? This morning, a twelve-year-old boy is going to teach us a new year’s resolution. A seventh-grader. Today, in our Gospel lesson, Jesus speaks to us – and the lesson he teaches us is probably one of the best new year’s resolutions you could make for the year 2004. Let’s see what that is.
Our Gospel lesson describes Mary and Joseph as a very devout family – every year they went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. As a twelve year old, Jesus went with them, and there they spent the week, as was their custom.
After the feast was over, Mary and Joseph began the trip back home, to Nazareth. Now remember, back then, walking was the main mode of transportation. Often, people would travel in big groups – it was safer, and the time went by faster. I picture Mary and Joseph traveling with their extended family, friends, and fellow Jews who lived up north. In groups like these, the adults would often walk together, and the children would separate into their own group to play and do other things, just as children do today. It was a three-day walk back to Nazareth, and so on the first night of their trip back home, Mary and Joseph set up camp and looked for Jesus among the group. But they couldn’t find him. He wasn’t with the other children. He wasn’t with their relatives, their friends. Jesus was missing. He was gone, without a trace.
If you were a parent, and you couldn’t find your child, you would probably start to panic, after awhile, and rightly so. There are all kinds of bad reasons why children go missing. Mary and Joseph were very upset, and so they returned to Jerusalem, and looked for him for three days. All kinds of questions, I’m sure, were racing through their minds, questions like, “Is he lost? Has he been abducted? Is he alive? Is he hurt?” Finally, we are told, they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. I picture Mary and Joseph coming around the corner and there is Jesus, the twelve year old boy, interacting with the teachers at the temple. We are told in verse 47 that “everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
And then, Mary rebuked Jesus by saying, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” But Jesus, the twelve year old boy, doesn’t respond by saying, “I’m sorry.” Instead, he teaches his parents something that they didn’t expect to learn that day. He says in verse 49: “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus was saying to them. What does that mean, that Jesus “had to be about his Father’s business?” You see, even at the young age of twelve, Jesus knew that he was not just the son of Mary. He was the Son of God. And even at a young age, Jesus knew that his purpose in life was not just to play and be a good son and grow up. He knew that he was on this earth for a greater purpose – he had a divine mission to fulfill, to be the Savior of all mankind. And part of that mission was spending time in God’s Word – listening to the teachers, asking them questions, filling himself with the words and promises of God that are found in the Scripture. That was his Father’s business. It was so important that he came up missing from the group returning to Nazareth.
Ultimately, this twelve year old boy would grow up to become the greatest teacher the Jews had ever known, carrying out his Father’s business. But even more importantly, Jesus would someday be about his Father’s business by dying on a cross. That was his ultimate mission in life – to be the Savior of all mankind. Yes, he was still a good son to his parents – the Bible says that Jesus returned home after that day and obeyed his mother and father. But he had a greater mission, a more important, divine mission – to be about his Father’s business as the Savior of the world. That was his number one priority.