Summary: Preached Year C, First Sunday of Christmas, following the lectionary


LUKE 2:41-52 (NRSV)

DECEMBER 30, 2012 AM



INTRO. Where’s Jesus? Reading this passage reminds me of a series of children’s books many parents and grandparents may remember. “Where’s Waldo?” is a series of books that appeared three times in the late 1980s, twice in the 1990s, and twice in the 2000s. Add to that Waldo sticker and activity books, a magazine, comic strip, video games, cereal box, and a film that is still in the works, and you have quite a franchise! What happens in the Waldo books is that you have finely detailed two page illustrations of numerous people in a certain location of the world doing many different amusing things. The challenge is to find Waldo hidden in each picture. He always wear glasses and a hat and shirt with red and white horizontal stripes, but he can be hard to find, as I can personally testify! Yet he is there, in each picture. This reminds me of the account that we find here in the Gospels of this seemingly strange incident in the young life of Jesus, this only stop on the road from the events of his birth in Bethlehem and the visit of the Wise Men to the all too short years of his public ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension back to the Father. As we step into this event in the faraway land of Israel, it seems that Jesus is lost in the picture, too. He has faded into the background and is about to cause a great uproar for many people who may or may not be looking for him. The question today is not, “Where’s Waldo?” The question today is, “Where’s Jesus?”

I. JESUS IS IN JERUSALEM (Luke 2:41-45). The first answer to the question is that Jesus is in Jerusalem. That’s a good answer because it happens to be true! If you had asked where I was a few days ago at Christmas, the answer would have been my hometown in northern Missouri. Now that was not true a week and a half ago, nor is it true now, but it was true for a few days. That’s the same way this answer is true for Jesus. He was not born in Jerusalem, he did not live in Jerusalem, but he did happen to be there at one point. And why was he in Jerusalem? Luke tells us he was there with his family for the festival of the Passover. This is the year that Jesus was twelve, and probably the first time he came to Passover as a full member of the synagogue back in Nazareth. For a Jewish young man, almost considered an adult of the day, this would have been big stuff. When the Passover was going on in Jerusalem, the population of the city went from 50,000 to 150,000. This, too, would have generated great excitement, especially for a small town boy like Jesus.

So the family went to Jerusalem, they enjoyed the Passover, and they hit the road for home. I can’t speak for you, but when I come home, I like to put the petal to the metal! I wonder if Joseph wasn’t like me. People traveled in groups back then for safety. The women and children would stay to the front, while most of the men would bring up the rear. And so, all day long, Joseph no doubt thought Jesus was up front with Mary and the children, while Mary believed Jesus the young man was in the back with Joseph and the other men. Have you ever lost a kid? What a feeling of panic and despair must sweep over the parents or whatever adult is responsible! Years ago, when Carol and I lived in Tennessee, I remember taking some kids to a church event near Nashville. Along the way, we stopped somewhere for gas or bathroom break or whatever. We loaded up and I forgot to count noses or take attendance. A couple of hundred feet down the road, I happened to glance in the rear-view mirror, and there was one of our church kids, running for her life down the street behind us! What a feeling! And what a feeling it must have been for Joseph and Mary. Jesus was in Jerusalem - somewhere - and they were struggling to find him.

II. JESUS IS IN THE TEMPLE (Luke 2:46-47). The second answer to the question is that Jesus is in the Temple, and it’s another good answer because it happens to be true as well. After all, why did Jesus and his family go to Jerusalem for Passover in the first place? It was to worship at the Temple and to thank God for his deliverance in Egypt. Why shouldn’t Jesus be at the Temple? What better place for him to be? But as we know, parents do not always think and reason like their kids do, so while they tear up the city for three days, Jesus is busy in the Temple all that time. When Mary and Joseph finally catch up with Jesus in the Temple, Luke says Jesus was doing three things (2:46).

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