Summary: Student Day at Christmas message. Jesus demonstrated curiosity, He shared what He knew, but above all He understood that relationships are paramount.
Aren’t babies wonderful? Babies are so sweet and so soft and cuddly. Everybody loves babies. Never mind, as some wit has put it, that a baby is nothing but a digestive system with a loud voice at one end and total irresponsibility at the other! Despite all that, everyone loves babies.
That, of course, is part of the magic and charm of Christmas. A mother, an infant, soft lights, bright music ... the whole scene is wonderful and warm and glorious. We love it. But what happens next? That’s the problem. What happens after babies start to grow up?
Feeding, clothing, paying the bills. Guiding, protecting, paying the bills. Loving, arguing, paying the bills. Teaching, reconciling, paying the bills. A whole lot takes place in the next twenty or so years.
And the discipline! Oh, the discipline! Those of you who are grandparents tell me that the best thing about being a grandparent is that when the little darlings get out of hand, you can send them home! Babies are fine, and grandchildren are grand, but the best part is that they are somebody else’s responsibility.
The truth 1s that growth is always hard work. Whether it is a child growing up or a young adult growing into her marriage; whether it is a middle-aged man trying to adjust to a changing job market or an older person figuring out how to live on diminished resources ... it’s all growth, and it takes hard work, painful work.
I want to think with you this morning about the growing Jesus. I wish we knew more about Jesus as a young person. It’s too bad the gospels are practically silent about those years. I think there would be a great deal to learn.
But we do know some things. We know, because Luke was careful to record it for us, about a twelve-year-old Jesus, in the Temple, listening to the teachers and questioning them. We do know what kind of demand that made on his family. And best of all, we do know what the outcome was. We do know that Jesus "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." That is, He grew!
I like to think of the little episode with the young man Jesus in the Temple as the time "When Jesus Went to College". It may not have been a degree program, and it had no football team. But Jesus there in the temple for just a few hours provides us with a miniature student growth experience. May I share it with you?
There are three observations about growing that come from this lovely little story. First, that growth starts when you know that you don’t know, and you want to learn all you can.
Second, that more growth comes when you know that you do know something, and you share that confidently.
And finally, that growth is full blown when you know that you know some things, you know that you’ll never know some other things, but you discover that relationships matter more than knowledge.
When Jesus went to college ...
Notice first that when Jesus went to college, He went there to learn all he could. Growth starts when you know that you don’t know, and you want to learn all you can. When Jesus took advantage of his first exposure to education outside of home and hearth, he was driven by the desire to know.
In fact, we are told that he was so absorbed by the teachers in the temple that he just set aside everything to devote himself to listening and to asking questions. For this young man, in this moment nothing was more important than learning and growing.
"After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions."
How is your curiosity this morning? What drives us to learn? Some of us are driven to learn only by the dictates of the marketplace. "How much does it pay?" "How will it look on my resume?" "Will this gain me entry into corporate America?"
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about curiosity. Some of us seem to have lost our curiosity. Just don’t care to learn anything new. Claiming that an old dog cannot be taught any new tricks, or proclaiming ourselves uncomfortable with change, we just sit still, where we are, and refuse to grow.
I saw a sign on somebody’s desk; it reads, "Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits." That’s where we are. We just sits.
I raise again the issue, what happens with our desire to know? What kills our curiosity?
The answer is that we justify irresponsibility by not knowing. Listen to that again: we manage to justify irresponsibility by not knowing. If I don’t know how to do something, I cannot be held responsible for not doing it, right? If I have never learned a given skill, it’s not my fault if that skill is needed and I can’t supply it, right? Our assumption is that if I do not know how to do something, I cannot be held responsible for not doing it. I can therefore manage to justify irresponsibility.