Well, the Bible actually tells us very little about the childhood and youth of Jesus. There are, of course, a number of narratives that deal with his birth and his infancy through the time in Egypt and then the return to Nazareth in Galilee. And that period probably takes up maybe 18 months of his early life. And then beyond that, there's not anything more told to us until we come to this account in Luke chapter 2 that tells us a brief glimpse, gives us a brief glimpse into his life at the age of 12.
Then after that, nothing more until about the age of 30. There are a number of fanciful myths that have grown up purporting to tell us about the childhood of Jesus, which are indeed all myths. Things like, I don't know if you've heard any of these or read any of these, that Jesus took some clay and molded a little bird out of the clay and then miraculously gave life to that clay bird and off it flew and things like that. But there is no evidence of that anywhere in the Bible. In fact, every little bit we do have points in a very different direction that at this time in his life, all that was seen by others was his humanity. He was not performing miracles.
He was not demonstrating his divine nature at all, but instead was living a very normal human life. But in this long stretch between his infancy and his adulthood, we do have this account about his visit to the temple in Jerusalem at the age of 12, a very instructive account. And we need to eagerly examine this rare glimpse into the boyhood of Jesus, really the transition between his boyhood and his adulthood. And so this account in Luke chapter two, we're going to examine in five parts. Number one, Jesus reaches his maturity. Two, Jesus pursues his mission. Third, Jesus manifests his wisdom. Four, Jesus declares his priorities.
And five, Jesus continues his preparation. It begins by telling us that Jesus reaches his maturity, and you may be surprised that I would frame this account at this point in those words, but I think you'll understand as I unfold what I see before me in verses 41 and 42. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of Passover, and when he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. Jesus reaches his maturity as guided by godly parents and as he accepted his responsibility. His parents, stepfather Joseph and biological mother Mary, were faithful to the Feast of Passover as required by the law of Moses.
They demonstrated faithfulness to the law of God in every account, every area of life that is given to us in the sacred scriptures. The Passover was actually a one-day feast, a one-day observance, but it was coupled with the Feast of Unloved Bread, which was a week-long observance. And so these were generally combined together and known together as Passover, though technically only the first day was Passover, but the week was generally considered to be Passover. And every Jewish male was required by law to come to Jerusalem to observe this annual feast, which commemorated the release of the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage. And the term Passover has to do with the passing over of the angel of death above and without touching the homes of the Israelites or anyone who had faith to believe the promise of God and applied the blood of the slain lamb to the two sides of their doorpost and across the lintel.
And when I see the blood, as the songwriter said, I will pass, I will pass over you. And so the Israelites were spared the death of their firstborn. The Egyptians felt so greatly the sting of that last plague that they said, go, go, go. Finally, they said, we don't want you here anymore.
Please leave our land. And that was Passover, a very significant time in the life of Israel, and that is commemorated annually at the feast of Passover in the spring of the year. To attend this feast of Passover required significant commitment because not only was it a week-long feast in Jerusalem, but to travel there took another week. Nazareth was 65 to 70 miles from Jerusalem. Most of the people traveled there on foot.
It took three long days of traveling, 20 to 25 miles a day, three days to travel down and three days to travel back, and one week spent carrying out the requirements of the law, a significant commitment. It would not have been easy for anyone. It certainly would not have been easy for someone who had a, what should I say, an existence that required their working regularly day by day in order just to supply food and the necessities of life. But here with Joseph, a carpenter who, obedient to the law, took two weeks out of his schedule every year to go to Jerusalem and to be faithful to observe the Passover feast. Obviously, Joseph and Mary were outwardly righteous, had a good testimony to those around them. We also know from Scripture that they were inwardly righteous. They trusted God and demonstrated true faith in Him.
But they had a good testimony before others, and they set a good example before their children, Jesus, and the others that were born following His birth. And so Jesus was guided by godly parents, and He accepted His responsibility in verse 42 to go to Jerusalem when He reached the age of 12, because that was the age when Jewish boys were considered to have become responsible for the religious requirements of the law of God. At that point, Jewish boys were considered a son of the law, bar mitzvah, a son of the law. That term and that acknowledgment is carried on today among Jewish people. Generally, the celebration takes place on the 13th birthday, but through the years it has been somewhere between 12 and 13.
There has not been an exact date that has been stipulated. But after a Jewish boy reaches the age of 12, he is heading to that time when he will accept full responsibility for his own spiritual life, for his own obedience to the law, for his own commitment to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And Jesus was now at that place. If He was born on December 25th, not a very high likelihood, but if He was born on December 25th, He would have been about 12 years and three months old at this point, heading toward age 13, heading toward what we call the teen years, a term that wasn't used in that day, heading toward His adolescence, also a term we don't use in His day, but I've entitled this sermon the Adolescent Jesus because that's exactly what we have. And so Jesus had reached the age of 12 and it was now time for Him to shoulder His responsibility to keep the law of Moses and to attend the feast of Passover. The Jews actually had two major milestones in the lifeline of their people, of their children. The first one at age 12, Bar Mitzvah, the son of the law. There's also in our day a female version of that, I can't remember what it's called, but they recognize Jewish girls in our day that reach that age as well with a ceremony similar to the Bar Mitzvah for the boys. And then the second milestone was the age of 30 when a Jewish male was considered to have reached full adulthood. Those are strange milestones for us. We don't generally consider 12 to be highly significant.
We're more likely to peg maybe 16. Age 16 is of highest significance and maybe 18 is another milestone and maybe 21 is yet another one. But in the Jewish way of thinking, 12 or 13 in that range, Bar Mitzvah, the son of the law, was the first milestone. And then age 30 was the second one.
You see, there was this period between 12 and 30. You entered into the responsibilities of the law at age 12, but you were not considered a fully mature adult prepared for leadership responsibilities until you were 30. That's why Jesus didn't take up his public ministry until he was 30. The indication for that in the Old Testament is the age when Levites who qualified for priesthood entered into their priestly service, age 30. And so the first milestone in the Jewish way of thinking, age 12, Jesus reached that one now.
The second milestone in Jewish thinking, age 30, that would await his stepping into public ministry at the baptism of John. But at age 12, Jesus accompanied his parents to the feast. We generally read this account and assume that Jesus was going to Jerusalem now for the first time. It's not exactly what it says.
It sounds like it in some ways. But what it's really telling us is that this is the first time that he went as a 12-year-old. This is the first time that he went as a son of the law. This was the first time that he went taking his own responsibility to obey the law of Moses rather than just going with his parents, which he may or may not have done. But it's more likely that he did accompany his parents to Jerusalem as a child. But now, for the first time, he's accompanying his parents to Jerusalem as a son of the law.
Jesus reaches his maturity. Secondly, Jesus pursues his mission. When they had finished, we read in verse 43, the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem, and Joseph and his mother did not know it. But supposing him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey and sought him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem seeking him.
This was a special opportunity for Jesus. His family had attended the entire feast when they had finished the days, that is, the whole week, all of the days that are involved. Some people didn't stay the whole time. Some would come just for the big day, the Passover day, and maybe leave after that.
Some would come for Passover day and maybe two or three days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and leave after that. But Jesus and his family stayed for all the days, again, in spite of the fact that he really needed to be earning a living in the carpenter shop. He had made preparation for this ahead of time, obviously, had saved, was prepared to fulfill the responsibilities of the law of Moses completely. And so they were there all of these days and then began the journey home. And clearly most of the people that they traveled with in a caravan had also fulfilled the entire time.
And so they started home in the caravan, which was their normal custom, a procession of people that would have been friends and relatives, neighbors from the town of Nazareth. But Jesus stayed behind in the temple because, evidently, he saw in this his first real opportunity for advanced theological education. We know that he'd been studying the word of God and growing in the knowledge of God's word ever since he was a young boy. Verse 40 says, And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. He was studying the scriptures, absorbing them, learning them, growing in the knowledge of them. But he had limited opportunity for advanced theological studies in Nazareth.
He saw a wonderful opportunity for the best theological education possible in the city of Jerusalem. And so, of course, he was going to take advantage of that. But his parents were unaware of his plans and purposes, and they didn't know that he was staying behind. And his special opportunity turns into a concerning situation when the parents assumed that Jesus was in the caravan with his friends and relatives from Nazareth in a perfectly safe environment. Generally, the women and the younger children traveled together and caught up on all of the events of their lives during that time.
And the men and the older boys traveled together and did much the same. And Jesus was in the transition stage. He could have been expected to have been with his mother and the younger children as he probably had been in previous years. Or he could have been expected to have been with Joseph and the man and the older boys now that he had reached the age of 12. And so we're assuming that Mary thought he's with Joseph and the older boys, and Joseph thought he's with Mary and the younger children. And when they came to their encampment place in the evening, Mary said to Joseph, Where's Jesus? Isn't he with you? And he said, No, Mary, where's Jesus? Isn't he with you? And they looked at each other, and then they began to inquire and ask their friends and relatives, Have you seen Jesus today? And nobody had. And so they realized, We're going to have to go back.
And so that they journeyed back and had an extended search. Nothing to do except to return to Jerusalem and see if they can find him. What has happened to him? This isn't like him. Has he been injured? Has he been accosted? Where is Jesus?
What's going on with him? And their hearts were very much filled with anxiety. But all of this time, Jesus is just having the time of his life in the temple. And so number three, Jesus manifests his wisdom. Verse 46, Now so it was that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. So when they saw him, they were amazed. And his mother said to him, Son, why have you done this to us?
Look, your father and I have sought you anxiously. Jesus manifests his interests, his wisdom, first of all, by his interest. What's he interested in?
The word of God. What's he interested in? Teaching in the temple.
What's he interested in? The place of worship. And so going back, that's where they found him in the temple after three days. That is, one day they journeyed toward home and found him missing. One day they journeyed back to Jerusalem to search for him. One day they searched around in the city of Jerusalem, and finally someone said, Well, maybe he's at the temple. That seems to be the last place they expected to find him. And lo and behold, there he was, had been there the whole time, engaged in theological discussion, listening to the teachers, responding to them. Much of the teaching method of that day was to propose questions and listen to answers and then respond to the answers and then to allow the pupils to ask questions and for the teachers to give their answers.
And that is what is going on. Jesus is sitting in on what we might call a high level of seminary theology. He's there with the best of the teachers and the doctors of his day, an elite body of scholars, for we read that all who heard him were astonished. So he manifests his wisdom by his interest.
His interest is not in going to Jerusalem to have a good time, not to go to Jerusalem and to find some other boys his age and to play. His interest is in worshiping God and learning God's word, and he's demonstrating that he really has grown in wisdom by his interest. And he demonstrates his wisdom by his knowledge. All who heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. All who heard him, the teachers who heard him, were astonished.
The pupils, the others who had gathered around to be taught, were astonished. The greatest teachers in Israel of that day would be here on this occasion. This was Passover.
Every observant Jew came to Jerusalem at Passover. This was a special time of teaching. And so we don't know who exactly the teachers were because we're not told, but it was men of the caliber of Hillel or Gamaliel or Nicodemus.
Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John chapter 3? Are you literally the teacher of the law and don't know these things, Nicodemus? He was evidently one of the highly recognized teachers of his day.
Are you Nicodemus the teacher and don't recognize these things? It was teachers of that caliber that Jesus was interacting with in the temple. And it was people who would be attracted to teachers like this, people who of themselves were of advanced theological understanding, who were listening to these outstanding teachers of the day.
And so this is like seminary professors and their best pupils who are gathered together. And there's Jesus in that setting, 12 years old, and he stands out above them all. The description sounds like he's nearly equal to the highest ranking teachers in his understanding and evidently superior to most of the others in his theological understanding.
And he is but a youth of 12. And some of them are men who have studied the word of God for decades. And he is answering their questions and proposing questions to them that cause them to dig deep in their knowledge and scratch in their minds and open the scriptures to find the answers to his questions. And so he demonstrates his wisdom by his interests. He demonstrates his wisdom by his knowledge.
He demonstrates his wisdom by his devotion to God. Verse 48, So when they, that is, his parents saw him, they were amazed. The teachers and pupils were amazed. That's the two different words for amazement. We have astonished in verse 47 in my English translation and amazed in verse 48.
But both of these are words that mean exceeding great astonishment, exceeding great amazement. And so his parents were amazed when they saw him. They were greatly amazed because, and this is what explains what comes next, they were evidently unaware of his advanced spiritual development.
He lived in their home. He was their son. They observed him. They saw him.
They knew what his interests were. They saw him studying the word of God, and yet in spite of all of that, they seemed not to have understood how much he had learned, how much he had absorbed. He must have kept his studies to himself. He must not have talked about it much. He was just gathering, gathering, gathering, gathering knowledge at this time in his life. And so his parents, to their discredit, must not have noticed the level of his spiritual development or anything close to it.
They viewed him as just a normal lad of age 12, and they didn't realize, oh, no, no, no, he's far, far, far more advanced than any 12-year-old you have ever known before. And Mary's question to him is, why have you done this, son, done this to us? Your father and I have sought you anxiously.
Why have you done this to us? Why have you left the caravan and stayed in Jerusalem and not gone with us? We sought you anxiously. We sought you with great worry and fear. And so in verses 49 and 50, we see Jesus declaring his priorities. And he said to them, why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my father's business?
But they did not understand the statement which he spoke to them. There are two questions actually raised by Jesus. Question number one, why did you seek me? Why are you looking for me? The assumption is that I expected you to know where I would be, and I expected you to know that my Heavenly Father would take care of me. I was in no danger, and I was in the place where I thought you knew I would be.
Why didn't you know that? Question number two, did you not know that I must be about my father's business? Mary had said in verse 48, your father and I have sought you anxiously. Jesus says, did you not know that I must be about my father's business? Mary pointed to Joseph as his father, indeed his stepfather, his legal father, his earthly father, but he has another father, a Heavenly Father, a higher ranking father than Joseph. And Jesus points to him, don't you know that I must be about my father's business? Yes, I know I've got an earthly father, but I've got a Heavenly Father who outranks my earthly father.
Didn't you know that I must be about my father's business? This demonstrates his priority. Jesus recognized God as his father of highest priority. Jesus obeyed the divine commission that had been given to him. Don't you know that I must be another one of those strong musts in the Bible? Like Jesus must, needs go through some area.
In various other times we read things similar, a divine commission, a divine appointment. Don't you know that I must be? I'm here by God's direction.
I'm here by assignment of my Heavenly Father. Don't you know that I must be about my father's business? Now the question is how to translate that word, which in my Bible is translated business. Don't you know that I must be about my father's... And the Greek word is rather flexible. It could mean, don't you know I must be about my father's affairs? Don't you know that I must be about my father's things? Don't you know that I must be about my father's people? Don't you know that I must be about my father's house?
And that last one is probably the right one. Because the question is, where are you? And he says, where do you think I am? I'm in my father's house. Where would you expect me to be? Don't you know that I must be in my father's house?
I must be, for God my father has appointed me to be here at this time. I must be in the temple. And Jesus called the temple his father's house. Remember on another occasion when he drove out the money changers and he said, this house is to be, my father's house is to be a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves, my father's house. My father's house, the temple. Don't you know that I must be in my father's house? And so Jesus declares his priorities by demonstrating this divine commission.
I must be about my father's house. But Jesus is also saddened by a disappointing realization, verse 50. But they did not understand the statement which he spoke to them. He really thought they would understand this. And they didn't. He thought they knew who he was. Did they? They had to know something of who he was, but they didn't seem to have a full realization.
They hadn't really hit them yet. They didn't fully grasp who this one was. He is not an ordinary child. He is God's Messiah. He is God's son. Mary, you should know, he was conceived in your womb by the miracle of virgin conception.
Don't you know who this one is? He is God, a very God who has come in the flesh. Joseph, you should know, the angel told you that this child that's been conceived of Mary is conceived of the Holy Spirit. Don't be afraid to take unto you this child.
You have this information. You know he fulfills prophecy. You know he is the appointed Messiah. You've watched him grow up for 12 years. You have never heard him lie. You've never heard him or watched him do anything that is wrong. He's never committed a sin. He's been the perfect boy.
No other boy in your community has been like this one. Surely you know that he's not just an ordinary boy. And are you surprised, therefore, that going to Jerusalem at the time when he takes upon him full adult religious responsibilities, he must be in his father's house in the temple taking care of his father's business, which at this time is to learn all he can about the word of God, and they didn't understand this. And so Jesus has this disappointing realization. He thought, he knew what his priorities were. He thought they would know as well. He thought they understood the priorities, the claims that were upon his life, the direction his life must go, the different responsibilities which he had because of his unique position as the Son of God and as the long-awaited Messiah.
But they didn't understand. Now the question is, did Jesus sin? Did he err by failing to tell his parents what he planned to do? Is this an act of disobedience or an act of sinful carelessness on his part? And obviously my answer to that is no because it's inconceivable that he could sin. The Bible is very plain about that, that Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God, that he who knew no sin became sin for us. So we cannot interpret what took place here in the light of any sin on his part. And yet, how do you explain this interchange between Jesus and his parents? Well, as I said earlier, it all has to do with the fact that he is now operating in terms of his humanity, not his deity.
And so operating, he's laid aside, he is the divine Son of God and he can call upon his divine attributes, but he's not operating according to them and apparently hasn't at any point in his life up until now and won't until he enters his public ministry. And so he does not know what they're thinking as he did on other occasions when as God, he knew what other people were thinking. He doesn't know what they're thinking, but he assumed that they would know and he was greatly disappointed.
His humanity is forefront here and this is all a simple misunderstanding based upon an assumption. He assumed they would know. He, we would say if we think it through, had every right to assume that they would know. Weren't they listening to the angel Gabriel? Weren't they paying attention to all of the miraculous events? Didn't they absorb the divine revelation that had been given to them? He assumed that they would know.
But there is this simple misunderstanding based upon a wrong assumption and there's simple misunderstanding based upon a lack of clear communication. He didn't say anything because he didn't think it was necessary, but it was. Maybe this is the first written record in history of a teenager saying, my parents don't understand me. Because they didn't. But he didn't say that.
At least it's not recorded. But if he'd had, it wouldn't have been in a rebellious frame of reference. It wouldn't have been in a pouty tone. It wouldn't have been complaining.
It wouldn't have been trying to wrangle some concession out of them and being mad that they don't see things my way. But his parents truly didn't understand him and he's learning that now. Oh, I need to be more clear. Oh, I need to communicate these things.
Oh, they don't understand what I thought they understood. And so this interchange really is all wrapped up in the mystery of the hypostatic union and the fact that the human side of Jesus is what is being operated, what is operating at this time. At this time, he is human, very human. But that's an encouragement to all of us. What does the Bible tell us? We have a high priest.
We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was tempted or tested in all points like as we are yet without sin. He understands us completely. He even understands the misunderstandings that we experience. He even understands the miscommunications that we have with other people. He understands the improper assumptions that are often made in human relationships that cause people not to understand one another.
He understands it because he did it too. Which brings us to number five. Jesus continues his preparation, verses 51 and 52. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. But his mother kept all these things in her heart and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.
He continues his preparation beginning with his exemplary submission. He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. He didn't say, I'm a son of the law now. I'm not subject to you anymore.
He said, I have divine orders. I must do these things as told by my heavenly father. I don't have to be subject to you anymore.
I've reached the age of, as many young people do in our day. I'm 16, I don't have to obey you anymore. I'm 18, I don't have to obey you anymore. Jesus said, I obey because that's part of my father's will. That's the law. Parents or children obey your parents. And I obey the law of God.
I will be subject to my appearance. And that indicates that in what happened in Jerusalem at the temple did not communicate disrespect. And there was no disobedience intended.
It was a simple misunderstanding. And Jesus gladly yields to parental authority. But Mary is thoughtful and she's also learning and growing. But his mother kept all these things in her heart.
We've read that on other occasions. Mary pondered on these things. She thought upon them. She was a thoughtful person. She took this information and she treasured it in her heart. She stored it up. She valued it.
She thought about it. She learned from it. She's learning more of who her son is in all of these things through her thoughtful contemplation. And then Jesus just continued to develop. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. He continues to grow and develop mentally and spiritually. He grew in wisdom.
That's a combination of knowledge, information, knowledge, education, and spiritual wisdom to know how to use that knowledge and how to apply it. He's growing in that. How can God grow in wisdom? This is the God man. How can God grow in knowledge?
This is the man, the human side of Jesus. He's growing in these things. He grew physically. He grew in stature. Wouldn't you like to know what he looked like? The Bible doesn't tell us.
No, no portrait has been given to us. Wouldn't you like to know, was he a strong youth? Was he, you know, was he tall? Was he short? Was he muscular?
Was he, you don't know. He just grew. He developed normally, but he developed, he developed well. He grew physically and he grew in favor with God.
And that's the most mysterious of all. How does the Son of God increase in favor with God? Okay, laying aside the divine side, because that's what we've done and continue to do and must do.
How does a perfect, sinless human being increase in favor with God? But Jesus did when the songwriter said, "'Tis mystery all, the immortal dies. Who can explore his wise design?" That not only applies to the death of the eternal Son of God in his humanity, but it applies to the youth of the eternal Son of God in his humanity.
Who can explore this mystery? He grows in favor with God and man. And thus he continues to prepare for his mission. Here he was at age 12 in the temple, confounding the scholars, and yet he's going to take another 18 years of growing, studying, preparing before he steps out into his public ministry. In fact, if he's going to have favor with men, he's not going around preaching to people and confronting them with truth and telling them things they don't like to hear, which he could have done. Now, when he did that in his public ministry, he didn't always have favor with men, did he?
Marty and I were with a pastor friend and his wife for part of our vacation this week, and he said something I hadn't really thought of this way before. He said, well, Jesus did what some people are trying to do now. He drained the swamp and they didn't like it. That's what he was doing. He was draining the swamp and they didn't like it.
They killed him. They're not going to have that. We've got our established way of doing things. We've got our privileged positions.
We're not going to give that up. Well, he wasn't doing that now because he increased in favor with men. He wasn't preaching yet.
He was preparing for his mission for 18 more years before he was ready to step out on the public stage. Now, in the few minutes that remain, let me zip through a number of practical lessons that I find in this passage. Number one, the importance of parental example. Mary and Joseph demonstrated, they didn't just teach him to obey God. They didn't just teach him what the law of God said.
They demonstrated by their life at great sacrifice what it meant to be obedient to the law when they went every year to Jerusalem at the feast of Passover. Parents, don't think that you're going to raise godly children if you tell them, but don't show them. Tell them how to act, but you act differently yourself. Tell them how they ought to speak and not to speak, but you're like the pillow that I didn't purchase in the restaurant while on vacation that said, I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.
That won't get the job done. Another one said, I love Jesus, but I drink a little, but we won't talk about that one. But his parents weren't like that. I love Jehovah, and I demonstrate it. Even when it's not convenient to go to the feast, we go. Even when it's costly to go to the feast, we go. Even when it would be a whole lot more comfortable to stay at home this year, we go. The importance of parental example.
Do I have to extend that out? I think that's the way you need to be when it comes to church. Why is everything, nearly everything in some people's lives or an excuse, the reason why they can't attend church this week, why isn't church the reason why they can't do other things on Sunday? Well, if you want to rear godly children, you better look at it more like number two than number one. The importance of parental example. Number two, we learn the importance of clear communication. I don't think that needs to be spelled out too much, but an awful lot of the problems we have is because we assume. We thought you would know that. We assumed you understood that. We thought you could tell. We thought you could read my mind.
Yeah. Clear communication in your marriage. Clear communication with your children. Clear communication on your job. Don't assume and don't get mad when somebody that you thought should have known something, you assumed they did and they don't, and then you're mad at them because they didn't know. Well, you assumed they should know.
Did you tell them? Clear communication. Number three, the importance of right priorities.
Jesus demonstrates them here. Yes, he submitted himself to his parents, but on this occasion, he made it clear what the priorities are. God first, family second. Family's important, but be careful here. If you're not careful, you can use family as an excuse to be less than faithful in your responsibilities to God.
God first, family second. Lesson number four, the importance of quiet meditation. Mary's an example of that. If you're gonna understand God's words, you're gonna have to learn to meditate. That doesn't mean you sit on a bed of nails and say hum, that's not it. It's not meditation, not biblical meditation. It means you have to read God's word carefully and thoughtfully and think about it, treasure it up in your heart, let it soak. From time to time, someone says to me, quite often someone says to me, we sure appreciate all the study you do to bring out in your messages what you do.
I never would have thought of that. Well, a lot of that is study. I do read a lot of commentaries and get a lot of thoughts. I think that's important. But some of the things I bring to you are not in the commentaries.
Where did you get those? Meditating, thinking, letting these thoughts germinate. And it's amazing what insights you can come up with. Mary's an example of that. If you want to understand God's word, you need to be willing to give some time to quiet meditation. Number five, the importance of a good reputation, favor with men. And number six, the greater importance of pleasing God. It's important to have a good reputation with men, but not at the expense of obedience to God. When the two conflict, as sometimes they will, sometimes more than others, depending on your circumstances and depending on where we are, where we live in the world and so forth. But when it comes to the two, then my father in heaven, I must do what he said. That comes first.
That must always come first. But as much as possible, when it doesn't mean disobeying God, we should be people that have the favor of men because we're gracious, because we're kind, because we're loving, because we're giving, because we're nice people, not acting like we've got an irritation all the time. I can't think of the word I'm trying to think of right now, but people who are constantly upset about things all the time, just a perpetual indignation. Don't you know people like that? They live their whole lives that way. Perpetual indignation.
That will not gain favor with men. And that's no way to live. That's no way for a Christian to live. I heard it on the radio this morning, coming to church, listening to the Lutheran Hour. One of the best sermons I've heard on that program.
I hear it quite often. Comes on at 6.30 on 94.5, the Lutheran Hour. And the pastor who's bringing the message on that, and by the way, it's sponsored by the Missouri Synod Lutheran, the conservative branch of the Lutheran people. And the pastor who was on that sermon, given that sermon today, cited studies, several studies that show that people who express gratitude are happier and healthier and have fewer mental problems, fewer occasions of depression. One of the studies they did was they took three different groups of people and studied them over a period of time. And one group was given the assignment to write a letter to someone expressing thanks and gratitude to them, one a week. And the other group was just to record their thoughts in their diary. They had a writing assignment too, but it had nothing to do with expressing gratitude to others.
Then the third group wasn't given an assignment at all. And at the end of, I don't know how many weeks, they brought them back together and gave them another test. And the ones who wrote the letters of gratitude scored higher in every area of measurable health, mental health and social health and everything else than any of the others, because gratitude makes you a healthier person. Well, what do you know? I think the Bible told us that if we'd just been paying attention.
My last application, the importance of thorough preparation for service. I know some men, they get a little education behind them and they say, well, I know as much as these guys. I'm ready to go out and proclaim my knowledge to the world.
Maybe not. It takes more than knowledge. It's good that you're gathering knowledge. But Jesus had knowledge above nearly anybody and he still had 18 more years of preparation before God said, okay, now's the time for you to step into public ministry. So thorough preparation, which involves knowledge of the Bible and knowledge of other things, wisdom, to be able to handle the knowledge that God has given you. Well, that's the adolescent Jesus. Let's close in prayer. Father, we thank you for this portion of your word that gives us insight into our savior, the son of God and his life upon the earth. Lord, help us to learn from this and to apply it to our lives, we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 18:51:25 / 2023-01-11 19:08:44 / 17