Last week we began our study of Luke 2:41-52, in which we find Joseph and Mary (after having accidentally left an adolescent Jesus in Jerusalem and realizing it after they had already traveled a full day) frantically hurrying back and searching for Jesus. And we pick up today with…
Luke 2:46-52 (NIV)-- 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The First Person-- You know, it’s interesting how often (in our day to day lives, even when we might doing religion things) we can lose Jesus. Even in studying about Jesus for many many years, we can still miss Him. That is why you never hear about anybody being converted to Christ by reading a theology textbook because theology textbooks are always written in the third person (He, She, It, Them, They), never the personal first person (I, Me). An author I was reading this week said that [This is why God identifies himself to Moses as I AM WHO I AM. Another way to say it is “I’M I AM.” God wanted Moses to tell the people of Israel that I AM had sent him. He wanted to be in the first person, not just to the leader, but to every man, woman, and child of the Israelite people. <But> Regrettably, the scribes who translated the Old Testament into the Greek Septuagint changed “I AM WHO I AM” to “I AM The One Who Is.” This shifted the emphasis from the Hebraic first person to the Greek third person.] And he said [there is no salvation until he is in the first person and we deal with him face-to-face.] And the ultimate question is this: [Are you talking about him, working for him, reading of him? Or are you talking, working, and reading with him? Is your life a face-to-face communion with the I AM?] We must be careful never to lose that personal encounter and communion with him or else we will find ourselves retracing our steps. Or we will find ourselves unable to grow; unable to change as Christians. Because learning more about God or even His Word cannot make you more Christlike in and of itself. Only drawing into His presence and allowing His holiness to be lived through you as you dwell in His presence can bring real lasting change to your life. Effectiveness in our spiritual lives and in our ministries has to begin with a face to face communion with God.
John Wesley once said, “Every new victory which a soul gains is the effect of a new prayer…”
And so we must (through prayer) draw into the presence of Jesus. That is where transformation and victory lies. But Joseph and Mary have to retrace their steps. It says in…
Luke 2:46 (NIV)— 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Three Days-- Now those three days started when they first left him. [They…realized he was missing at the end of a full day’s travel. That required another full day’s journey back to Jerusalem, and the better part of another day was spent seeking him.] So [By the time they find their son, he has been missing for three days— one day out with the caravan, another day back, and one day looking for him.] And here they find him, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
At the feet of the rabbis-- You see, [In that day, it was not unusual for students to gather at the feet of the rabbis to discuss theology, often in a question-and-answer discussion format.] And in the temple (on the terrace) members of the Sanhedrin would (on Sabbaths and feast-days) give public instruction. So the feast is most likely still going on. The rabbis would have most likely sat in a circle on benches and the listeners would sit on the ground at their feet (as was custom) listening. And that is where we find Jesus, listening to them eagerly. [It was his one opportunity in a theological school outside of the synagogue to hear the great rabbis expound the problems of life.] And he is listening, asking questions, and answering questions. And it says…
Luke 2:46 (NIV)— 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Repeatedly Amazed-- And that phrase was amazed (existanto) meant that they continued to be amazed repeatedly. In fact, the common verb form of this word (existemi) means [they stood out of themselves as if their eyes were bulging out.] Now [It is not difficult to ask hard questions, but this boy had astounding answers to their questions, revealing his amazing intellectual and spiritual growth.]… and his amazing understanding of the scriptures. Now [Jesus was utterly respectful, taking the role of the student. But even at that young age, his questions showed a wisdom that put the teachers to shame.] And it says…
Luke 2:48a (NIV)— 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished.
Struck Out!-- And that word astonished comes from a word meaning [to strike out, drive out by a blow. Joseph and Mary “were struck out” by what they saw and heard. Even they had not fully realized the power in this wonderful boy.] And yet, naturally, it says…
Luke 2:48b (NIV)— His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Jesus Acted Responsibly-- Now [Mary’s words convey a tone of exasperation and rebuke— <which is> normal for any mother under such circumstances, but misplaced in this case. Jesus was not hiding from them or defying their authority. In fact, he had done precisely what any child should do under such circumstances (being left by his parents)—he went to a safe, public place, in the presence of trusted adults, where his parents could be expected to come looking for him (v. 49).] In fact, Jesus seems surprised that they did not know where to find him. He says…
Luke 2:49-52 (NIV)— 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
In My Father’s House-- Now in Jesus’ response, we se that He assumed that His parents knew that He would be spending His time in the presence of God His Father in His house. [His reply was in no sense insolent, but reveals a genuine amazement that they did no know where to look for him. This also reveals that even at so young an age, he had a clear consciousness of his identity and mission.] He understood at this point His relationship with God the Father. He doesn’t say our Father, but my Father’s house. What Jesus has virtually said is “My Father is God and I must be in His house.” And [the temple was not only a place of worship, but was also a place of teaching. <And> Jesus has a call to instruct the nation.] So even though he is young, He is already connecting Himself with God’s mission for His life. And that is ultimately what ought to happen when we enter into the presence of God. He impresses upon our hearts His plan; His purpose; His mission for our lives. But it all has to begin with His presence; walking with God in first-person worship. Charles Finney once said, “It is only those that live and walk with God whose prayers are of any avail to themselves, to the church, or to the world.” In other words, those who take the time to enter into the presence of Jesus.
A Christian Dad Not Serious-- Some time ago I was praying for a young man I knew; that he might find the Lord. His dad happens to be a Christian, but although his dad has been part of a church for some time, he just doesn’t take his spiritual walk seriously. And I have seen how that has spilled over into his son’s life. The son would be more interested in the Lord if the dad would just catch fire and begin hungering for the presence of God. Because when we have the presence of God, we are a source of life to those around us. When God offers His presence to you, it’s not just for you, its also for those around you who will be impacted by your obedience; you faithfulness to pray; to seek the Lord; to go to Church; to read your Bible.
Kinlaw’s Roommate-- Dr. Dennis Kinlaw used to share the story of how [When [he] was a college student, God gave [him] a roommate who was an example to [him]. Every morning, [he] would wake up conscious of a light on in the room. [He] would look over and see [his] roommate kneeling by a chair, with his Bible open on the chair. <He says> [he] saw him there morning after morning, and something inside of [him] wanted to have what he had. <But, being> the pious type <, he> … felt guilty about sleeping when [his friend] was on his knees. So very ignobly [he] began to have [his] own quiet time with the same regularity that [his] roommate did. <And he said that> [he would]… be eternally grateful to that roommate who shamed [him] into a pattern of consistent time with God. <He said> I do not care what it takes for you to start the pattern; once you begin to meet with God, he can take control and change your motivation so that what you want is him. Anything that forces you into the presence of Christ and into an openness to his Word will make a dramatic difference in your Christian life. He positions himself right in the middle of our lives so we can look at him and talk to him every day. He wants to tabernacle in us.]
Today I want to challenge you; I want to challenge myself with the call to not merely engage in conversation and study about Christ; but to engage in conversation with Christ. Let Him move from the third person to the first person in your life. Take time to enter into His presence. Seek Him in prayer, seek Him in His word; seek Him through fasting; seek Him through your fellowship with one another. It is not enough to receive Christ. Because salvation is not in an experience. Salvation is in Jesus. And (as He Himself said) we must abide in Him (in His presence) if we want to experience His saving power. Never before in history are we as men and women more in danger of having all the trappings; a nice church; nice groups; nice fellowship; without having the abiding presence of Jesus. We have to have Him, or else everything else amounts to nothing. We must have His presence. And so I want to encourage you today, do not settle for anything less than the abiding presence of Jesus in your life. Speak to Him and take the time to listen to His voice speaking to you. Jesus is not a subject to be studied; He is a person to be known. Know Him today. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.