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Jesus in the Temple

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 7, 2021 12:01 am

Jesus in the Temple

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 7, 2021 12:01 am

When Jesus was 12 years old, He was brought to Jerusalem, where He entered deep conversations with the teachers in the temple. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Luke to explain what Jesus' profound wisdom at this young age teaches us about the incarnation of Christ.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/1808/luke-commentary

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When Jesus was twelve years old, His parents took Him to Jerusalem, where He entered into deep conversation with the teachers, and it was obvious to them that He was a prodigy.

They had never, ever witnessed anything like this in their lives. They saw clearly that this kid knew more than they did at every point. And so the question for this morning is this, how did He know so much? The Bible doesn't tell us much about Jesus' childhood, but this one glimpse from the Gospel of Luke provides us with profound insight. As a twelve-year-old boy, Jesus was teaching the teachers.

Today on Renewing Your Mind, we continue Dr. R.C. Sproul's sermon series from Luke, and we'll begin at chapter 2, verse 41. Luke gives us more information about Jesus' birth and infancy than any other gospel writer, and we've been looking at that information over the past several weeks. Last week we looked at His presentation in the temple when He was about six weeks old. And then there's a gap.

That gap goes from six weeks old to twelve years old. And then after that, we have another gap that goes from age twelve to about age thirty when Jesus appears to begin His public ministry. And we've often wondered why it is that the gospel writers don't fill us in with the details of Jesus' childhood. Attempts were made to do that by the fraudulent writings of the second-century Gnostics in the so-called apocryphal gospels, where they told fanciful stories of the child Jesus being lonely as He was playing in the dirt, and so He shaped with the mud figures of birds and then did hocus pocus and turned these dirt birds into alive birds so that He could have pets to play with.

Such nonsense really did not add any honor to the understanding of Jesus. But all we're told here initially is that between the time He was presented in the temple until the time He appears again at age 12, that He grew, became strong in spirit, became filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Now it's probable that the age in which Jewish young men became sons of the law or experienced what they called bar mitzvah, was age 13. And it was the custom of the Jews at that time that a year before bar mitzvah, when the boy reached the age of 12, the parents would take him to Jerusalem, show him all around the temple, all around the different sites, all around the holy city, so that he could be prepared for the following year's ceremony of bar mitzvah. And so in all probability, that's why on this occasion when Jesus' parents came to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, that they brought Him along for the trip.

And Luke tells us that when the time was finished for the celebration of the Passover, the people who had traveled many miles as pilgrims returned to their homes. And again, the custom in the day was to travel by caravan. And the caravan would include the immediate family, aunts and uncles and cousins, the extended family, and also neighbors from your village and from adjoining village, and so that the caravan would be quite big. The custom was in these caravans that at the front of the caravan would be the women and the children. And then at the back of the caravan would be the men and the young men.

Now Jesus was just on the threshold between child and young man. And so I think it's safe for us to assume that on this occasion that Mary with the children at the front of the caravan assumed that Jesus was at the back of the caravan with Joseph, because she realized He certainly wasn't with her. And in like manner, in all probability, Joseph's coming up at the rear of the caravan, and he's with other men and young men and notices that Jesus isn't with him. And so he assumes Jesus must be with His mother up at the front of the caravan. Safe assumption.

Unfortunately, he was wrong. At the end of the day, they pitched their camp and all the friends and relatives would get together around the campfire and spend time talking about their experiences in Jerusalem. And it was at that point that Mary and Joseph realized that their son was missing. And so the question that had them filled with anxiety was this simple question.

Simple question. Where's Jesus? Where's Jesus? Where's my son? I thought he was with you, Joseph said.

No, no, no. I thought he was with you, Mary said. And they looked all through the caravan, and they couldn't find him. And so now, dreadfully frightened and anxious, Mary and Joseph alone begin the day-long journey back to Jerusalem, and all along the road they're hollering for Jesus. They're looking for Jesus.

They can't find their son. Years ago in Cincinnati when I was working in a church there, forty-some years ago, we came home from church, Vesta and I and Sherry, her daughter. And we got home and realized that R.C. Jr. wasn't with us. And we realized we forgot him and left him back at church. And so I turned around and drove all the way back to the church, and I found him dazed, walking around frightened, wondering why his parents had gone without him. Well, friends, it's one thing to forget R.C.

Jr., but to forget Jesus. That's another story all together. And so they came back, spent a whole day on the journey. They get back to Jerusalem, and Jesus wasn't waiting for them at the front gate of the city. They're scouring the city, looking at the bazaar, looking at all the shops, the streets, even in those days.

They went to the playground to see if He were playing with some of the other children. They spent the whole day scouring the city of Jerusalem. They couldn't find Him. The last place they expected to find Him was in the temple. And finally in desperation, they go into the temple. And it was a custom at that time too that after the celebration of the Passover, the visiting rabbis, the scholars, the theologians of the day, the PhDs of Israel stayed around the city because this was one of the few times during the year that they had the opportunity to sit down and discuss matters of theology. So they were all there in a room buzzing back and forth talking about their theological theories. And to Mary and Joseph's astonishment, they find Jesus sitting in the midst of these doctors, participating in the theological dialogue. He's twelve years old.

And not as He's participating. It's not like these elders are saying, go away, Son, you bother me. They were even more astonished than Mary and Joseph because they couldn't believe the insight and the provocative questions that were coming from the mouth of this twelve-year-old boy. He was obviously a child prodigy, but a child prodigy of such advanced learning that they had never, ever witnessed anything like this in their lives. They saw it clearly that this kid knew more than they did at every point.

And so the question for this morning is this. How did he know so much? How is it possible for this twelve-year-old boy Jesus to confound the experts in the law and the Scriptures? Well, there is a quick and simple answer that many people give, which I think is patently incorrect, that people will often look at this event and they'll say, well, why wouldn't he know all this stuff?

He's God for heaven's sakes. This is God incarnate, and God is omniscient. God doesn't have to be taught by the scholars, although they're not willing to admit that. But God is generally not in need of learning from anybody because He's omniscient. He knows everything. And if Jesus is God incarnate, doesn't that mean that He knew everything?

Well, yes and no. Now we bump right up against one of the greatest mysteries and one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith, and that is the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, whom we confess to be the God-man, whom we profess to say that He was in fact the very incarnation of God. And during the fifth century A.D., the church faced one of their most critical crises that they had endured up till that time with the rise of two distinct and separate heresies at the same time, both of which heresies seriously threatened the well-being of the church. The first heresy was called the monophysite heresy, which had been advanced by a man by the name of Eutychus. And the monophysite heresy taught this, that if Jesus was one person, clearly He must have only had one nature, like every other person that we've ever met.

It's one to a customer when it comes to humanity. And so if Jesus was a single individual, He must have had a single nature. So the monophysites like Eutychus believed that Jesus only had one nature. Well, if He only had one nature, was it divine or was it human? And if you would ask a monophysite, was Jesus' single nature divine or was it human?

He would answer, yes. And He would say that one nature was a blend, a mixture between deity and humanity, a divinely human nature, or was it a humanly divine nature? But see, under analysis, if you look at that closely, which the church did at Chalcedon in 451, they said, here you have Jesus, whose one nature is not both human and divine, but rarely is neither. Because if His human nature has been deified, then it's no longer human. And if His divine nature has been humanized, then it's no longer divine.

So the church said, absolutely no to the monophysite heresy. And from the other aisle came the Nestorians who said, if He has two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, then He must be two people. And so what the Council of Chalcedon did was, first of all, they made the positive affirmation they said in Jesus in the mystery of the incarnation.

And get this. He is vera homo, vera Deus, truly man and truly God, that we must affirm both the full humanity of Jesus in the incarnation and affirm His full deity. Then they came with the famous four negatives of Chalcedon, and at this point the church very wisely really didn't totally unpack the mystery of the incarnation.

They didn't answer all the questions. Instead, what they did is they set the borders, a border on this side, a border on this side, and they defined the incarnation in terms of what it was not, what it was not, with these four negatives. They said, Jesus is truly human, truly divine, two natures, perfectly united, but without mixture or confusion. You hear that, you monophysites? No mixture, no confusion, no blending, without separation or division. Do you hear that, you Nestorians over there?

Pox on both houses was pronounced at Chalcedon. He said, however we understand the incarnation, we can't understand it in terms of a mixture or blend of deity and humanity, nor can we understand it in terms of a separation or division between the two natures. And then after the comma, Chalcedon went on to say, each nature retained its own attributes. That simple theological affirmation, each nature retained its own attributes, has been so trampled on and brutally violated throughout church history and even today, I can't tell you. And if we could just get those four negatives and each nature retaining its own attributes, we would spare ourselves so much grief in trying to understand the God-man. Now we can't divide the two natures, but we must distinguish them. How about when Jesus got hungry or became thirsty? Did that show forth His deity or His humanity?

I'm distinguishing, not separating. Even when He was thirsty in His human nature, His thirsty human nature was still perfectly united to His divine nature, but it wasn't the divine nature that was thirsty, because God never gets thirsty. What about when it comes to knowledge? Jesus' human knowledge was as limited as anybody else's human knowledge unless the divine nature communicated information to the human nature. Now we know, for example, in the Old Testament you have prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel who have supernatural knowledge of the future. Did they gain that knowledge out of their own insight or from going to synagogue school?

No. They gained that knowledge because God revealed it to them. Just like Jesus said, touching His humanity, I say nothing on My own authority but only what the Father teaches Me. And there were times where Jesus displayed supernatural knowledge, when He knew Nathaniel before He ever met him, when He knew all about the woman at the well. But again, that didn't rise up out of Jesus' reservoir of human knowledge, but the Father or the divine nature revealed it to Him on that occasion. Now it's possible that what happened in the temple on this occasion was that when Jesus is in there, the divine nature is whispering into His human ear and giving them all the answers for the questions that are being posed by the rabbis.

But I don't think so. So if it wasn't the divine nature whispering in the ear of the human nature, how was Jesus able to amaze the PhDs in the temple with His prodigious knowledge? I've been studying theology seriously for well over fifty years. I would have been confounded by the twelve-year-old Jesus, and I'll tell you why. Because I know in His human nature, by the time He was twelve, He knew an awful lot more about theology than I know today.

Why? Well, first of all, the great commandment is that we're to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts and all of our might, all of our minds. I have a confession to make to you that should be obvious. I haven't loved God with all of my mind for one minute in my life. The ravages of sin that fall upon humanity from the fallen don't just affect the body, don't just affect the will, but also has a terrible effect on the mind. But can you imagine a twelve-year-old boy who didn't have the slightest influence of original sin in his life, whose thinking was for not one second ever clouded by darkness, that for every second of his twelve years loved the Lord his God with his entire mind. You want to see a child prodigy that would turn the world upside down?

Find a perfect human being and see what they can learn in twelve years. So, Jesus didn't have to rely on His divine nature to astound anybody. He could do it with His hands tied behind His back in His perfect humanity. He knew His Father like no twelve-year-old had ever known before. And here's the scary part. It kept getting better. For the next eighteen years He was growing in His wisdom. He was growing in His knowledge. And by the time He was thirty, then the people would say, this man speaks like no other men we've ever heard. He speaks as one having authority, not like the scribes and the Pharisees at age thirty. Well, in any case, Mary and Joseph are amazed, but not as amazed as the scholars that were there. And so they come up to Jesus, and Mary says to Him, Son, why have You done this to us?

This may be the first time in His twelve years that His mother had to correct them for anything. Why have You done this to us? What kind of a son are you that hangs back here in Jerusalem?

Didn't you know we would be worried to death? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously. So she asked Him why. And being Jewish, Jesus answered a question with a question.

You know why Jewish people answer questions with questions. Why not answer a question? He said to them, why did you seek Me?

What are you so anxious about? Why was I so hard for you to find? Didn't you know that I must be in My Father's house? Didn't you understand, mother, that I wasn't here on a lark?

I wasn't here trying to be defiant to your authority. I was here because I am compelled to be in My Father's house. And I'm not talking about Joseph's house.

I'm talking about God's house. Mother, I had to be here because this is where my Heavenly Father wanted me to be. And so Jesus not only had to teach the teachers, He had to teach His parents about the truth of God.

Wouldn't you have loved Him in a fly on the wall with that exchange? Well, then Luke tells us He left, and He went with His mom and His dad, went back to Nazareth, and was subject to them, that is to Mary and Joseph. And His mother kept all these things in her heart. And again Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with men. The next time we see Him is when He comes to be baptized by John. That's an astonishing realization, isn't it, that Jesus at 12 years old had done nothing but love God with all of His heart, perfect and complete devotion for that long. And so no wonder that He had more wisdom than the teachers.

We've heard Dr. R.C. Sproul preaching from the Gospel of Luke today here on Redoing Your Mind, and he brought such clarity to this passage. That's why we're eager to provide today's resource offer to you.

It's a digital download of R.C. 's expositional commentary of this gospel. You'll find almost 600 pages of helpful insight. Request it today with your donation of any amount. Our offices are closed on this Lord's Day, but you can give your gift and make your request online at renewingyourmind.org. Our purpose here at Ligonier Ministries is to awaken as many people as possible to the holiness of God by proclaiming, teaching, and defending God's holiness in all its fullness. We do that by providing quality teaching on theology, the Bible, church history, apologetics, and Christian ethics. Your financial support allows us to continue this effort around the world, so we're grateful for your generosity. Well, next week as we continue this series by Dr. Sproul, the narrative in Luke turns to the ministry of John the Baptist. I hope you'll join us again next week here on Redoing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-26 14:05:54 / 2023-07-26 14:13:58 / 8

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