Summary: An unusual Christmas message.
WHERE IS YOUR “SAVING PLACE?”
INTRO: One of the images that we can get from the Christmas season comes from the TV commercial played during the holiday season. A discount chain calls itself the “saving place” in its commercials. The announcer informs us that “Christmas is here at the ‘saving place.’” He meant, of course, that Christmas could be purchased and purchased cheaply at that particular store. Without realizing it, the announcer had said something utterly profound. “Christmas is here at the ‘saving place.’” No, not at a discount store, but Christ comes to us, Christmas happens, and wherever that is, it becomes our “saving place.”
Let us look at an event in Jesus’ formative years and find our where the “saving place” or places were for Him and maybe even for us. “Where is your ‘saving place’” is a good question.
This text from Luke provides help for finding our “saving places” for Jesus and there are two for us. It is very simple. Home and Temple were “saving places” for Jesus. These are critical places for us. Most likely we will find our “saving place” in one of those places of we won’t find it at all. This text provides us with a model for growth toward God and others.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOME.
Our text tells us that Jesus’ family went yearly to the holy place like many pious Jews did. They were people of faith. They took seriously the things that matter. They were a model of family piety. At every point of Jesus’ life, the law of Moses had been kept — His circumcision, Mary’s purification, Jesus’ dedication, and the family’s annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover.
What happened here is not in any way a denial of His family obligations and relationships but, rather, an indirect testimony to the deep faith of the family and the fulfillment of the act of giving the child Jesus to the Lord.
Not only did Jesus learn to value the faith and His relationship with the father in the home, but He must have had a lot of love and acceptance in His home. He had a positive self-image. Those kinds of feelings and images do not come on their own but are nurtured and encouraged, yea, even given in the context of a “grace-full” home. Yes, home was a “saving place” for Jesus as it should be for us.
Oh, there were tensions between home and Temple, weren’t there? But even after this episode, the Scripture tells us that He went home to Nazareth with them and He was obedient to them. Being God’s Man meant that He also met His earthly obligations.
Yes, home can be, should be, ought to be a “saving place” for all of us, whatever place and whoever happens to be “home” for us.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TEMPLE.
The interesting thing to me is that the Temple was seen as a place of learning and questioning. Contrary to what you may have heard, Jesus was not the teacher with everyone sitting at His feet listening to Him. Hardly! He was learning, asking questions. Yes, He was bright; His insight was astounding.
But He was a human; He was there as learner and questioner. That is what the temple, the church is to be in our time. It should be a place for us to learn, to ask our questions. That is precisely what He was doing. He was a normal, human, inquisitive twelve-year-old who was interested in spiritual matters.
He came from a home that valued the Temple. So it was not surprising that He got involved. He didn’t go with all the answers; he did go with an eagerness to learn.
There was a stirring in Him that He had a special relationship, a special gift to give to the world. What a gift we can give to each other, to our children if this temple, this church can be a place where God’s Spirit is allowed to stir up in us a sense of our uniqueness and the uniqueness of the gifts we have to offer the world.
When that happens, the church becomes a “saving place” for us. It also then becomes a “saving place” for our world, because you and I leave this place different than we came and the world is changed because of it.
ILLUS: I heard of a preacher who went with a group of minister friends to a city for an urban studies program. One day he and some other ministers were told to put on old clothes and shoes and get into the line for a free lunch at a place where street people were fed daily.
He tells of moving along the line and exchanging nods and greetings with the street people. He listened to their stories and watched them scrape food into plastic bags for supper.