First Sunday after Epiphany
January 7, 2018 A+D
St. Luke 2:41-52
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Just twelve years old and already he was a boy on a mission. Indeed, Jesus’ entire life was a life about His Father’s business. He had no time to stop and smell the roses. He had no time to pursue hobbies of his choice to pass the time. From the time He spilt blood being circumcised on the eighth day under the Law for us, until the time He spilt blood on Calvary’s mount for the remission of sins, Jesus only considered His Father’s business. As the Gospel of John teaches us, He came to do His Father’s will, and nothing else would get in His way. And His Father’s will was the salvation of the world.
That’s why St. Mary’s scolding remark to her Son is harsh to our sensitive ears: “Why have you treated us so?” Make no mistake. Mary was accusing Jesus of sin, of being self-centered and thoughtless. And for this reason, she receives a rebuking question from Him: “Why did you seek Me?” That is to say, it was not Jesus who was negligent, but they.
I am sure that Our Lord as a Child was all too easy to neglect. We can’t imagine a child like this. Children born from their father’s are selfish from the beginning, but not Jesus. Being completely selfless, always mindful of His duty, He could be expected to not only do things the first time He was asked, unlike every other person in the world, but even to anticipate the needs of His parents. He knew His duty as a child AND fulfilled it. His was a life of service, not only to mankind in general, but to His parents in particular. He was the perfect Son. And so it was that they never had to worry about Him. They simply expected Him to be in the train of pilgrims, as He always had been before, on the way back to Nazareth. When He wasn’t, they panicked. And then, when they found Him, His Mother, full of guilt and emotionally exhausted, lashes out at Him. She attempts to inflict Him with some of her pain and suffering. “Son, why have you treated me so poorly? Don’t you love your mother?”
Indeed, He does love His mother. And that is why He is in the Temple conducting His Father’s business. He wasn’t satisfied with only being inflicted with some of Mary’s pain and suffering—the pain of not finding Jesus among the travelers back to Nazareth—He wanted the pain and suffering of the sin born in her and that which she had added thereto. He wanted all of it. It is for her good. He wants to take her guilt and sin away. He wants to suffer and die for her. And He wants to continue to serve her. But His is the service of the steward, not of the slave. He distributes the Father’s gracious gifts to the Bride according to the Father’s instructions, and not according to the Bride’s temper tantrums and emotional outbursts.
And what of you? Have you taken Jesus for granted? Has His presence in the Temple of your own body, been neglected and ignored so that you might selfishly go about your sins? This is the temptation of faithful Christians—Christians who go to church every Sunday, go to bible class, get their children to Sunday school, have family devotions. Have you even been so bold as to blame God for your inclinations of lust, pride, and greed, claiming that you can’t help it, that He made you this way? Or at least He set the scene for you to act on them? Have you thought, “I’ll sin now and then repent later?” Well turn from that evil thought. Repent, now! You’ve been caught in the act. Your sin is your fault. It’s not His. Jesus does not heed your misplaced anger and temper tantrums. Although His only desire is to serve you, He is not your slave. He does not take orders from you. His ways are not your ways. His thoughts are not your thoughts. Remember, Jesus is the God of Abraham. He burned Sodom and Gomorrah, because they refused to repent. He turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, because she yearned for the sinful life she was dragged from. He slew 23,000 Israelites because of their sexual immorality. Do not tempt Him. Just because you have an intimate relationship with Him, doesn’t mean He’s your buddy. Repent. All of your sins are serious, and you can’t hide them from your Lord. Repent, but do not despair. These things were written as a warning for you.
These things were written in the Law and the Prophets for our warning and our salvation foretelling the Father’s business. The Light pierced the darkness in the courts of the Temple. The teachers of the Law – and all who hear Jesus – find their hearts burning. His Father’s business is being conducted in His Father’s House. The greatest proof that this is the Messiah, is not in His miracles, but in His Word and His teaching! He does not sin. He does not lie. He speaks the Truth. He opens up the Law and the Prophets. He has perfect insight into the written will of God. He does not teach like the Pharisees, Saducees, and those today who bend their teaching to itching ears. Through Him comes grace and truth. The Lord is in His temple. His Body is the new Temple. It will be torn down in brutal, human rage, on the cross, but built up again in Divine Love on Easter morning. The Temple itself will be sacrificed as the final sacrifice, the one to which all previous sacrifices pointed. And then that Temple, built without hands, will be rebuilt by the power of the Holy Spirit, taken up again by the authority of the Son, raised through the glory of the Father. It will no longer be limited by time or space. His time of His humiliation is ended. He is exalted. His Father’s business is completed. Yet, even now, at the right hand of the Father, He is always and fully with us – as a Man. In that Body, the new Temple, He is among us– as a Man, He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It is present every time His Bride, the Church, gathers to eat and drink every Word that comes from the Father’s mouth.
That Temple is put into you by way of your ears, and by way of your mouth. Now you are the Temple. How is it that God’s Holy Spirit is put in you? By the Word as it is preached and by Holy Communion. For the bread we break is the communion of His holy Body. The cup we bless is the communion of His holy Blood. The price of your redemption has been paid! This is the Father’s business, the purpose of the Temple – then and now: to rescue mankind, to make for Himself a people who were no people, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.
Rejoice fellow brother and sister in the faith! You are not alone. You are no longer stuck in the rut of your sin. You are not left alone in your suffering. You are not grieving alone for relationships and loved ones lost. The Light shines in the darkness. Come out of the shadows. Leave behind your murky excuses and hopeless attempts at self-justifying. Abandon your self-made and self-sought righteousness. Submit to the one who does the will of His Father, submit to the King of righteousness. In His will, you will find peace, rest, forgiveness, and love. He is your Life, your Light. You cannot lose Him. The Father’s business has been completed for you.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.