Order of Service:
Call to worship
Hymn (Complete Mission Praise 3) Abba Father
Isaiah 11: 1-11
Luke 2: 39-52
Hymn (CMP 32) An army of ordinary people
Sermon ‘Growing and Learning’ – scroll down to read the sermon text
Hymn (CMP 167) Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning (2 verses: 1 & 4)
Hymn (CMP 33) And can it be (2 verses: 1 & 3)
Growing and Learning
As I was preparing the sermon, a particular prayer came to mind, the prayer that was always said at the end of the Girls Brigade session:
“Hear us Jesus as we pray,
Help us love You more each day,
at Girls Brigade and everywhere.
Help us know You’re always there.
Daisy prayed, Hear us Jesus as we pray, help us love You more each day.
We do need Jesus’s help to love Him more and more. We do need His help to learn to love.
In our New Testament reading, Jesus is the same age as Daisy: 12 years old. When you grow up, you discover and learn so many things.
Unlike Daisy, when she was saying this prayer, Jesus was not at his home, which was in Nazareth. In our story, Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem. He went there with Mary his mother and Joseph to celebrate with thousands of other Israelites the Feast of Pesach. In English it’s called the ‘Passover’. What is celebrated at this feast is the freedom they were given by God, after years and years of slavery in Egypt. When they were led out of Egypt, they were guided by someone who was chosen by God and his name was Moses. And Moses guided the people of Israel out of Egypt in the way that God wanted him to do.
So it was for this feast that Jesus, with his mother Mary and Joseph, travelled from Nazareth to Jerusalem. They travelled as part of a group, a big group of people. Everybody was happy. Jesus was too. He was excited because this was the first time he was going to see the temple in Jerusalem. After a long journey they arrived in the city and then, after going through the small streets he saw…the temple. It was an enormous building and because it was built on a mountain, it looked even higher than it was.
It was also terribly busy. You can imagine: thousands of people arrived there from all different places, so things could get easily out of hand. Therefore, there were stewards who tried to make things go smoothly, but there were also teachers, priests, beggars and tradesmen, trying to do business by selling animals for offering. It just looked like a big, busy market place. Jesus saw a lot of toil. Not quite what He expected. For what He knew was that God works when people have peace when they trust Him. So He wondered…Is this the house where God lives, the house that He built? Jesus was thinking of the words of this Psalm,
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1,2)
Jesus had to stay with His mum Mary at the square where women had to stay behind. Joseph went through to the square where the animals were offered. Joseph had a lamb that he took with him and Jesus knew what was going to happen to it. It was going to be looked at by a priest, and if he thought it was perfect, the lamb was slaughtered. Then some of the blood of the lamb was going to be taken by the priest and he was going to put it on the altar. It was a ritual and Jesus knew what that ritual meant. It meant God’s forgiveness: the blood of the lamb covered the sins of the people; it washed away the sins of the people. The lamb could then be taken back and eaten by the family, at the Passover meal. Jesus knew all these things. He was a thinker. He thought a lot about God and wanted to find out more about Him.
Therefore, during the days of the Passover feast Jesus chose to spend time in that part of the temple where the Ten Commandments were taught. The Ten Commandments were rules given by God to Moses and Moses had to pass on those rules to the other Israelites. It was wise men who explained the meaning of the Ten Commandments.
In this story, Jesus listens very carefully to what these men say about these commandments, about these rules that God had given Moses. But more than anything, Jesus is keen on hearing more about who God is. What can these wise men tell Him about God Himself? Jesus listens, and then starts to ask questions.
God said to Moses that He always would be with His people, but how? And can we call Him Father? Moses also said that God’s children turned away from Him. Why did they do that?
Jesus asks deep, challenging questions. The wise men had never had a pupil before whose mind and heart were so full of God. At such a young age. They were amazed. Some of them liked having such a keen pupil. But others found Jesus with His sharp questions, irritating.
The wise men wonder: why is this boy like this? Well, through the stories he heard from his parents it started to dawn on Jesus that God must be His Father.
So while the wise men were dealing with his questions, they didn’t know that this boy Jesus was searching for His own Father, exploring, moving closer and closer to Him.
What this meant for Joseph and Mary was that Jesus slowly but surely distanced Himself from them. And that was painful for Mary and Joseph. That distancing of Jesus from them, while they loved Him. That pain was only going to be intensified. It was going to be unbearable, when Mary was going to see this same Jesus, her son, on the cross, from a distance.
The fact that Joseph and Mary were already on their way home when they realized that Jesus was not with them, is a sign that he was given freedom; that they trusted him. They didn’t expect him to stay within their sight, all the time. They found Him, after three days.
After three days, Jesus was found.
Later, Jesus would be lost again for three days, in death after which He would appear to His loved ones .
For now, in our story of this morning, Mary and Joseph find Him, after three distressing days, in the midst of the teachers. He was listening to them. Taking in the words they spoke. Making them His own, before He Himself would speak, teach and interpret the same Ten Commandments.
Jesus’s home was the tradition of His fellow believers. For that is what they were: Jesus and the teachers of the Law; they shared their unshakable belief in God.
From that belief and the traditions that came with that Jewish belief, Jesus grew, as it says at the end of the story
‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man’. (Luke 2:52)
During Jesus’s ministry, Jesus speaks about the Law and when He does, He means the Ten Commandments that were given to the Prophet Moses, ages and ages ago. Moses wrote down the ways in which God wanted His people to live. So when Jesus says,
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17)
He says: Don’t think, because it was ages and ages ago that those rules were given, they do not count anymore for I, the Son of God, am here to help you to love, and so to put in practice the rules that Moses, ages and ages ago, wrote down.
For when people do that, what happens then is that the light of Jesus; His way of living, can be shown by them. And other people can see something of Jesus. And His way is the way of love, a love that never stops burning