. When Mary and Joseph found their 12 year old son Jesus talking with the teachers in the temple, he explained to his parents that he had to be about his father's business. What did he mean by that? Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg takes a closer look at this brief glimpse into Jesus' early life and his unchanging purpose. What we have in this little incident is the only recorded material in the Gospels of the life of Jesus as a young boy, as a growing young man.
This is it all. And Luke chooses not to include the story of the arrival of the wise men or of the flight into Egypt, but he has been determined, he says, in his opening remarks, as he writes to Theophilus, that he would provide an orderly account of all of the material that was necessary to know in order that in the knowing of this material those who read the Gospels might become absolutely certain. So there is a certain knowledge that the Holy Spirit provides for us concerning the growth and development of Jesus as a young man, and it is that that we are about to consider. We should notice that it was not in the holy city of Jerusalem that Jesus was growing up, rather in this despised, half-heathen place, Galilee, and in a particularly obscure little place by the name of Nazareth. And it was from here that his parents took him up to Jerusalem for this feast. They went on a trip.
There would have been a measure of expectation. They would have said, When are we going to Jerusalem, Mom? Well, we'll be going in a few days. And what will we be doing there? Well, we'll be at the feast.
All the normal kind of discourse that takes place within a family. Now, we're not told whether Jesus had gone up before. We're told that Mary and Joseph had gone up annually, but not that Jesus had accompanied them. It may be that he had.
We don't know. We do know that he went now at the age of twelve. And it is in the course of this event that he is misplaced amongst the crowd that is departing. At least he never even makes it to the crowd that is leaving Jerusalem.
And I think we can understand this, we can identify with it. Mary looking amongst the crowd, perhaps the women and the smaller children together as the pilgrims leave now from Jerusalem, heading to their various homes, and Mary looking around amongst the group and noticing the fact that Jesus is not there, registering it and thinking presumably in the back of her mind, Well, probably he's with his father and coming with the older boys. And consequently, Joseph would be looking amongst his group and registering the fact that he didn't see the face of Jesus, but saying to himself, Well, I'm sure he's with his mother.
And then as they get to the end of a day's journey, they look at one another, and both of them say the same thing almost simultaneously. Where is Jesus? And then they say, I thought he was with you, and you remember those conversations. I thought you were looking after him. Oh, no! I was never looking after him.
I thought he was in your custody, after all. And you know how those little discussions go. Well, the fact of the matter is, neither of the two of them had him, and neither of them knew where he was. And so they've made a day's journey out. They perhaps stay the night and say, Well, let's go back in the morning. They head out in the morning. They make a day's journey back. Perhaps they arrive under cover of darkness. They say to one another, I don't want to push around Jerusalem at the moment, in the middle of the night, looking for him. Let's get a sleep, and we'll see in the morning what's happening.
And that would, of course, bring us to the third day of verse 46, because it was after three days that they found him in the temple course. Now, for those of us who have found our children after a little bit of that heart-stopping time, and have said to them, What do you think you're doing? Where do you think you've been? We know that there are a number of replies that our children are ingenious in coming up with.
We could take time sharing with one another some of the wonderful things our children have been able to create in terms of a response to the question, Where have you been? or Why have you treated us like this? Didn't you know that we were looking for you? But none of us have ever heard anything to match the response of this twelve-year-old boy as his mother asks him the question, Hey, your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. And Jesus says, Why were you searching for me?
Now, that ought to be a self-explanatory thing. We were looking for you, because you're not where you were supposed to be. Jesus says, Why were you looking for me? Don't miss the juxtaposition between your father and I, and then the response of Jesus, because he responds with two questions. One, Why were you looking for me? Two, Didn't you realize that I had to be in my father's house?
Or actually, Did you not realize that involved in my father's affairs it behoved me to be? That's a closer literal translation of the Greek. Now, the staggering thing, of course, is that this is all unfolding in the context of a question-and-answer session involving Jesus and the teachers in the temple courts. The methodology of instruction was that the pupil would come and ask questions of the teacher. The teacher would then reply, giving information to the pupil.
The pupil would then be interrogated by the teacher to see how much of the reply that he had received had been assimilated. And that is the only way that you can make sense of the transition between verse 46 and verse 47. Because it says in 46 that he was sitting among the teachers listening to them and asking questions, and verse 47 says, And everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Oh no, you see, he was asking the questions, they were giving the answers.
No, the interaction in terms of the discovery of information was as I have outlined, and so the teachers were marveling that this young lad was able to grasp things so quickly and articulate them so effectively. And into the midst of that, his mother and Joseph appear, and the dialogue ensues. Now, Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph, quite frankly, didn't understand what he was saying to them. Verse 50, They did not understand what he was saying to them.
However, their lack of understanding does not engender bewilderment. We're told that the incident was immediately added to Mary's treasure chest. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. There we are. So now what? Where do we go from here? What do we do with this?
Now I'm including you in the process. Now it's late on Monday afternoon, and I have just gone through the little scenario, just as I've described it to you, taken my best shot at it, produced what I've just told you. Now I have scribbles on the desk, I have the week in front of me, I have the prospect of standing up here in front of you, and I have now taken my best shot, and that's all I know, which frankly isn't much more than you.
So what do we do? Well, you turn around, and you see what somebody else said about these verses. And you look around, and you find that they taught from these verses about the social, spiritual development, intellectual, spiritual, social development of children, and they said, Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and in favor with men, and this is in here to show us how we're supposed to grow as well—hence the inclusion in Luke's Gospel. Well, there's no question that it does give to us the fourfold developmental stages in the life of a young person, but I can't imagine that that's the whole reason that we have this record.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized this, and I wonder if you can identify with this. In my knowledge of this story, the predominating thought for me has always been that Jesus was able to dialogue with these teachers of the law in the temple, and it really was quite staggering that a twelve-year-old boy would be able to do such an extraordinary thing. And I have missed the fact that this piece is sandwiched in between two summary statements which are about the ordinariness of Christ—not about how extraordinary he is, but actually about how ordinary was his childhood development. And in thinking it through this week, I said to myself, What I need to learn here is not to engage in the conjecture and the speculation about the childhood of Jesus, which is the prerogative of pundits who write books that are full of nonsense, but rather it is to go to these verses and to say, What then is it we learn about Christ in relationship to this? Because this significant question is the first recorded statement by the incarnate God in the whole Bible, right? If you asked yourself the question, and you closed your Bible after the birth, a few verses before, and you said, Okay, God has become incarnate in Christ. You close your Bible, and you say, I wonder what the very first thing that the incarnate God will say, at least as it is recorded in the New Testament.
I wonder what it will be. I wonder if any of us would have concluded that it would be this kind of question, Wish ye not that I must be about my Father's business? Why are you anxious concerning me? Didn't you realize what I came to do? Don't you realize who I am?
And don't you realize why I came? And here in this question, there is the inkling given to us of the self-awareness of this young lad. Because when we think about it for a moment or two, we have to recognize that there was a point, or there were points in the development of the life of Christ, where his awareness of his godhood must have come upon him, and where the significance of that must have increasingly dawned on him. It is a fiction to imagine that he emerges from the womb, fully aware of all these issues. We cannot substantiate that from the pages of the New Testament. Rather, Luke tells us in his summary statements that this child was filled with wisdom—namely, that there was an increasing discovery of wisdom—the grace of God was upon him.
He was growing in wisdom, he was growing in stature, he was growing in favor with God, and he was growing in favor with man. Now, what then is the business to which he refers? Didn't you realize, he says, that I must be about my father's business? So I said to myself, well, I need to understand his business.
What is the activity? Now, of course, we have the benefit of the rest of the New Testament. Therefore, we don't have to be involved in conjecture. We know, as we compare Scripture with Scripture, that the business of the Lord Jesus—we might put it in that way—was that he was coming to shed his blood and the blood of the new covenant. He was, as the writer says in Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 24, he was the mediator of a new covenant. He was in the world because of a specific relation with his father.
All right? Now, in order to understand the relationship between the work of Christ and the will of God, theologians speak in terms of a covenant of redemption. And what we're doing here is a little bit of Christology, okay?
We need a little theology here. And in speaking of a covenant of redemption, they are describing a pre-temporal, pre-time, pre-incarnational agreement between the Father and the Son, in which the Son agrees to complete the task assigned by the Father. And indeed, his whole incarnation, his whole coming, is directly related to the fact that he understands that he is to be about the Father's business. In other words, he didn't come to earth and then make the discovery of what it was he was planning on doing.
No. It was determined from eternity that this would be the role that he would fulfill. And in becoming incarnate, he was going to fulfill the expectations of the Father. That's why on the cross, incidentally, he is able to say, It is finished. If you've ever wondered about why he says, It is finished on the cross, you've got to say, Well, what is finished? Does he mean, My life's finished?
Because it wasn't? Only momentarily so. Does he mean, Well, it's all over now. I thought it was going to be better than this, and look where I am, and it's over?
No. This one declaration, tetelestai, is directly related to a twelve-year-old boy in the temple in Jerusalem. Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business? And then all the way through the journey of his life, it is leading to the point where on the cross he's going to say, I've finished the business. For example, in John 4, when the disciples come back, they had gone off to get him lunch. He comes back, and they come back and find him speaking with the lady. And when they show up with the lunch, he doesn't seem particularly interested in the lunch. They look at one another, and they say, Do you think somebody came and brought him food?
And Jesus said, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Now, we understand that. I don't have difficulty with that when he's thirty. I don't actually have much difficulty with the incarnation imagining it in terms of infancy. But as I've thought about it this week, I do have difficulty with the idea of a twelve-year-old boy who is God incarnate.
There's just something about twelve-year-old boys that make that difficult for me. You know, the baby's not doing much. Okay, fine. You know, in the manger.
Got it? And then the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, got it. But a twelve-year-old boy sitting in the temple?
That makes me scratch my head. But he was no less God in the temple at twelve than he was on the cross at age thirty-three, or in the manger at age dot, or in eternity coequal with the Father and the Spirit. John chapter 6, Jesus explains the nature of what he has come to do in a wonderful passage that begins in verse 35. He tells them that he is the very bread from heaven, using this wonderful picture. And they say to him, Sir, from now on, give us this bread. And Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
He's talking there about spiritual hunger and thirst. But as I told you, you have seen me, and still you do not believe. This gives the lie to the idea that if Jesus would come up Euclid Avenue, if he would appear at the terminal tower, that everybody would flock out of their offices and say, I believe in Jesus. No, they would not.
They absolutely would not. He says, You have seen me, and still you do not believe. They looked at him, they understood him—a measure of him, at least. They heard his words, they saw his miracles, and they still did not believe.
His brothers and his sisters lived in the very same house as him, and still they did not believe. Verse 37, All that the Father gives me will come to me. Sounds like the Father has a group that he plans to give to the Son, doesn't it? And whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.
Sounds like anybody can be in the group, doesn't it? For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me, wish to you not that I must be about my father's business? And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Now, when you take that and once again compare Scripture with Scripture, you have this wonderful summary statement by Paul when he writes to Timothy in his first letter—1 Timothy 1.15—and he says in a phrase, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Now, that is tremendously good news. That is wonderful news. It is wonderful news for all who are honest enough to admit that our lives are not the way they ought to be, who are honest enough to admit that we haven't loved God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, and all our strength, that we haven't always been truthful, that we haven't always been faithful, that we haven't always been kind, and so on.
In other words, we're messed up. And this Christ Jesus, sitting in the temple, turning to his mother and saying, Didn't you realize that I have to be about my father's business? establishes for the very first time the notion which finds its fulfillment in his cross and which is then explained by the work of the apostles in the writing of their letters. And so there should be an emphasis for us. Emerging right from here, I say to you this morning, Jesus was about the business of the Father.
What was the business of the Father? It was about saving sinners. Therefore, it allows me to say this to you, that every human being, without exception, is entitled to come to Christ and trust him as their Savior.
Every human being, without any exception whatsoever, is entitled to come to Christ and trust him as their Savior. Because he commands all men everywhere to repent. He doesn't command some people somewhere to repent, but he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Acts 17, the end of Paul's sermon. He offers a universal invitation. Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And take my yoke upon you and learn from me.
For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. He accues the great invitations of the Old Testament. Look to me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth. And he promises that if we believe, we will be saved. Isn't that the message of Paul to the Philippian jailer who asks the question, What must I do to be saved? And Paul says, I'll tell you straight up, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved.
And if you don't, you won't. I have to be about my Father's business. What is the business? It's the business of redemption.
What is the part that I play? It is the part of making atonement for the sins. You see, evangelism is not about saying to men and women, Hello, everyone. Good morning. You are saved. Because Jesus died on the cross, you are automatically forgiven. And I just wanted to let you know that this morning. Some of you have not known that, and I thought it might be helpful for you to know. No, that's not the message of the New Testament. The message of the New Testament is not, Good morning, everybody. Glad to let you know you're saved. No, the message is, Good morning, everybody. I have a salvation to offer to you if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have a gift for you if you will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So clearly, this believing, this receiving, this trusting is something more than simply a cognitive response to the fact of the existence of a person claiming to be God.
And of course it is. Christ's business, if you like, was to make absolutely explicit the free, universal offer of the gospel. Jesus makes it clear he came into the world, his mission, his purpose was to save sinners, everyone who trusts in him as Savior. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We'll hear the conclusion to today's message on Monday. If you've never read the Bible all the way through from Genesis to Revelation, we want to recommend it. We have an easy to use daily Bible reading plan that will guide you through four passages of scripture each day, giving you a roadmap for reading through the entire Bible in one year. And this Bible reading plan is free for you to download from our website at truthforlife.org slash Bible reading plan, or you can purchase it as a booklet for just a dollar. Go to truthforlife.org slash store. And if you've not yet requested your copy of the book, Every Moment Holy, you'll want to do that soon. This is a book that reminds you to give thanks to God for his sovereignty over every moment of life, the big moments and the everyday not so noteworthy moments. Ask for your copy of Every Moment Holy when you donate online at truthforlife.org slash donate. Now our offices are closed today as our team is preparing for Christmas. However, our online store is always open and available. Go to truthforlife.org slash gifts.
I'm Bob Lapine. We hope you enjoy your weekend and are able to celebrate Christmas with friends and family in your local church. On Monday, we'll look at what Jesus' childhood was like.
Did he have special gifts or super intelligence? We'll find out what the Bible has to say about this Monday. On behalf of all of us at Truth for Life, we wish you and your whole family a very blessed and Merry Christmas. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 05:09:38 / 2022-12-23 05:18:37 / 9