Monday of Epiphany 1
January 14, 2019 A+D
St. Luke 2: 41-52
Behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
In the verse just before today’s account, St. Luke tells that the 40-day old Jesus grew and was “filled with wisdom.” Today St. Luke tells us that the 12-year-old Jesus “increased in wisdom.” St. Luke is putting us in mind of that great Man of Wisdom in Holy Writ-King Solomon. But behold, something greater than Solomon is in the temple.
Solomon was indeed great. Almost everything about him was great. He was the great King of Peace. Never before, nor since, did Israel experience such peace and properity as when Solomon was at the helm. He was the Great Temple Builder. And He was the Great Man of Wisdom. Kings came from the ends of the earth to hear his wisdom. The Queen of Sheba once journeyed up to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. But they weren’t hard for Solomon. The wisdom she heard with her ears and the glory she saw at Solomon’s Table left her gasping for air.
But today, something even Greater than Solomon is in the Jerusalem Temple. And a woman greater than the Queen of Sheba has journeyed up to Jerusalem and is asking hard questions. And after a painful, agonizing, heart-thumping, three-day search, Mary found her son. And her question reveals that she was not fond of His treatment of her and Joseph. But she didn’t understand. This was no Problem Child. This Child was God’s Wisdom in the Flesh, who’s never lost and always knows what’s He’s doing. He couldn’t have been treating her any better in fact. For He was revealing His glory to her and to Joseph and to the teachers of Israel. And to us.
You heard what happened in Solomon’s day when God’s glory showed up in the Temple. It showed up in cloud and thick darkness. It drove even the priests away. God’s glory was threatening, it was a buffer between God and man. God’s glory meant: “Stay away. And don’t ask questions.” But God’s True Glory appears today in the Temple. In the flesh of a 12-year-old Boy named Jesus who draws people to Himself and even converses with them. All the fullness of God and His Wisdom dwelt in this Boy, and yet there He is asking questions of those He created. And answering their questions. And He did this without rolling His eyes at His parents or looking down at His teachers, things that you have done. God’s Glory was in the flesh of this obedient boy, who keeps and will keep the 4th commandment perfectly, because we haven’t. No, Mary was wrong. Her boy was treating her kindly. And then even more kindly with his wise and wondrous response to her, “Did you not know that I must be among the things of my Father?” Or, to put it another way, “Dear Mother, I’m not lost, you must be, because I am always where I need to be.”
Faithful Mary needed to gain understanding and grow in wisdom concerning her Son. And so do we. We are indeed God’s people. The “sheep of His pasture” as you sang. But all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way. But our way is self-chosen way, our way is to despise God’s wisdom, therefore our way is often the way of stupidity and foolishness-saying “Yes,” when God’s commandments say, “No.” Our way is to think that God is not wise in how He governs our life, that’s He not fair in how He dispenses blessings, and that we deserve better from Him, even though we deserve nothing but punishment. We are the ones who are lost.
But He is not. And He always finds us. He is always where he needs to be for us. Not only for that little lost sheep named Mary, but also for sheep like us who need to learn that His way is always the best way, even when it hurts or even when we’re befuddled. He’s never lost. He’s always where he needs to be manifesting His glory. At age 40 days in the temple. At age 12 in the temple. At age 30 at the Jordan. And especially at age 33 on the cross atoning for our mistrust of Him and our disobedience, doing whatever it takes to make His Father our Father. He is never lost. He is always right where He needs to be.
Did you not know that I must be among the things of my Father? For all these things here are about me. I must be among these lambs being sacrificed for I am the True Passover Lamb whose neck will be sliced for the sins of the world. I must be around these things called cherubim that overshadow the Mercy Seat, for I am God’s True Mercy Seat. I must be here among these impressive stones, because I am God’s True Temple, a Temple I will destroy and raise up again on the Third Day so that I can find you and be your cornerstone, the rock upon which a wise man can build his life. Mary learned this. She grew in wisdom and understanding. What she got so wrong this day in Jerusalem, she got so right 18 years later in Cana. In the only other conversation recorded between her and her son, she’s no longer asking questions. She’s speaks wisdom. The wisdom of faith: “Do whatever he tells you.”
By God’s grace, we too are growing in wisdom. And we’ve been filled with a wisdom much greater than Solomon’s wisdom. Solomon’s wisdom was a lot of earthly wisdom. Stuff you could also learn from Aesop. But the Greater Solomon has seen fit to fill us with Greater Wisdom, a wisdom the world knows nothing about-the wisdom of the cross, which is actually foolishness in the eyes of the world. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men. This is no conventional wisdom and so we must continually be schooled in God’s wisdom to learn and grow. We learn to submit to God’s will, even if it means bitterness and pain for a while, for we trust in His Wisdom. We’re learning that when we are weak and dependent, then we are strong. We’re learning that no matter how difficult, how sad, how heartbreaking life might be right now, His grace is sufficient for us. We accept whatever trials His Wisdom sets before us, for this Greater Solomon has suffered our foolish sins to death, has conquered the world, and along with His Spirit, has given us the courage and resolve to deal with it and even make it beneficial for us.
You have been absolved of your sins, therefore you have a peace and a prosperity that Solomon could never give. You have been baptized and given the wisdom of faith in Jesus and the desire to walk confidently in the way of the cross. Therefore even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like you. You have come to a Table in the midst of a Temple that Divine Wisdom has built and set up and called you to this morning. And behold, one greater than Solomon is here giving to you His very Flesh and Blood, and with it a Kingdom that’s everlasting and a glory and wisdom and mercy which leaves us breathless.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Ralph Tausz