Faithlife Sermons

LUKE 2:41-52 - Lead Me, Father

Advent 2022  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:11
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A Christian household is called to be a reflection of God's pattern for faithful families

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Introduction

Merry Christmas! I’m glad that we could gather this morning to celebrate our Savior’s birth together. And I am especially glad for the families with kids that made the commitment to be here this morning! It’s not easy including Sunday morning worship in your family Christmas morning, and I am grateful for the commitment to God and His worship that you have demonstrated. Bringing your kids to church on Christmas morning isn’t easy—but it is worth it.
Our passage of Scripture this morning tells the one story from Jesus’ childhood that is recorded for us by the Gospel writers. We see that Luke wrote his Gospel account by using the eyewitness accounts of many people who knew Jesus (Luke 1:2), and here is a story that he wrote down from Jesus’ mother Mary, who had “treasured it in her heart” (v. 51). It is a story that gives us a glimpse of how Jesus grew up; it is the only information we have on what kind of home life He had, and what His relationship with His mother and step-father looked like.
And so, as we have gathered here with our families to worship on this day when we celebrate our Savior’s birth, I think it is fitting that we search the Scriptures here to see what God would have us do in our own family relationships—how does a godly family relate to one another and to God? There is much to say about that topic, and many places throughout the Scriptures where we could go to learn. But for this morning we will see what we can learn from Jesus’ own family life. Here in these verses before us this morning.
God has set forth His PATTERN of faithful FAMILY life for His CHILDREN to follow
I want to divide our time this morning between two different groups represented here—first, God’s pattern for faithful parents, and secondly His pattern for faithful children. So first, in verses 41-45 let’s consider the pattern God has set forth for parents—moms and dads, God’s call for you in this passage is to

I. Let your WORSHIP be GENUINE before your children (Luke 2:41-45)

Consider the first two verses of the account:
Luke 2:41–42 (ESV)
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.
Here is the first example for you, parents, when it comes to setting a godly example of worship for your children:
Let them see your CONSISTENCY in it (vv. 41-42; Ex. 23:17)
Luke makes sure to explain that this wasn’t an occasional trip for the beth-Joseph family—they went up every year for Passover. According to the Law of Moses, there were three times in a year that God required His people to come before Him—Passover, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths (Exodus 23:17). Technically, only the males were required to appear, but notice that Mary came along as well—Jesus saw the consistency of both of His parents coming to worship. Luke reinforces that point again in verse 42:
Luke 2:42 (ESV)
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.
In other words, it wasn’t a question as to whether they were going to go up to Jerusalem each year; it was so ingrained into their family life that it was part of their household DNA, as it were. The House of Joseph was a household that always went up to Jerusalem!
Now, if that’s as far as it went, there would be nothing worth emulating in the way Joseph led his family. There are far too many individuals who have walked away from their Christian upbringing because all their parents did was enforce their Christian standards. As one author put it, their strictness made the faith ugly, and it scared their children away.
But that is not what we see here in the way Joseph and Mary led their family to worship—they did far more than teach their Son to obey God’s Law, they taught Him to love God’s Law!
Christian parents, don’t merely show your children your steadfast commitment and constancy in worship,
Let them see your DELIGHT in it (cp. Psalm 19:9-10)
Your job as a parent, Christian, is not just to teach your children to obey God’s standards, you must teach them to delight in His standards!
I believe that you can see this taking place in the way Joseph and Mary carried out their worship at Passover. For one thing, you see in verse 43 that they returned when the feast was ended—the Passover was a two-day observance; the Feast of Unleavened Bread went for the rest of the week. Faithful Jews only needed to attend Passover itself, and could leave after that. But Joseph and Mary stayed for the whole feast! They demonstrated that they delighted in worshipping YHWH at the Temple!
Another indication of their delight was the fact that coming to Jerusalem for Passover every year was a costly commitment for them—they would have to shut down Joseph’s carpentry business (and all their income!) for two whole weeks—it was a three-day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, then a week at the feast, then another three days to return. A major commitment of time and money—but they never missed it! Surely Jesus grew up hearing His mom and dad sing the psalm that went:
Psalm 19:9–10 (ESV)
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
They loved to go up to the Temple to worship—it wasn’t a drudgery or an inconvenience; it was more precious to them than gold, it was the highlight of their year!
I think this passage helps explain why Jesus seems to love the Temple so much later in His life—so many times He was drawn back to the Temple; surely every time He returned to those familiar sights and sounds and smells of the Temple courts His mind would run back to the years He spent coming with His mom and dad when He was a child. And while the mystery of His Incarnation is vast and unfathomable, and we cannot always know how His divine nature and His human nature worked perfectly together in His emotional life, is it not possible that at least part of His holy indignation at the moneychangers in the Temple was because of how much Joseph would have hated it? That when He said to the pigeon-sellers in John 2:16,
John 2:16 (ESV)
16 “...Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
That at least in some part of His heart He was thinking of the Temple as the house that His dad Joseph loved? His step-dad loved the Temple of YHWH; and so His step-son did too.
Christian dads and moms, it is a labor of love to teach your children to love the worship of God—it is a delightful thing, but make no mistake: it is a hard thing sometimes. I know how hard it is to keep your two-year-old from wiggling down off the pew to go exploring underneath; I know how tiresome it is to pace your baby back and forth across the back of the sanctuary when they are fussy; I know how much of a struggle it can be to attend to worship while trying to silently referee a squabble between two little kids who want the same color crayon at the same time.
And I know you think to yourself; “Is this even worth it? Are they even getting anything out of the service, or is this all a waste of time and a continual annoyance to everyone else in the room?” And so I want you to see here that Jesus’ parents instilled a love for the worship of God in Him by their constancy and delight in worship—and so as you model the same thing for your children,
Trust that they are BENEFITING from it (vv. 46-47)
Even if you can’t see it; even if it doesn’t look like anything is getting through, you don’t know the impact that you are having on your kids by your faithful example of delighted worship of God.
Consider what twelve years of faithful, consistent worship instilled in Jesus’ life—where was He when they found Him?
Luke 2:46 (ESV)
46 ...in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
It was a regular custom for the scribes and rabbis to gather in one section of the Temple courts for a custom that is still observed in some sects of Judaism today, the midrash. Rabbis would gather their disciples and read a passage of Torah, and then hold scholarly debates on the meanings and interpretations of the verses.
Luke tells us that Jesus was sitting in on a midrash—and not just listening, He was holding His own! Asking legitimate questions, keeping up with the thread of argument, offering His own thoughts on the debate—to the point where the others were amazed at how much this 12-year-old kid understood, and the answers He gave to their questions.
Once again, it is not for us to parse Jesus’ human and divine natures to discern whether He was acting in His capacity as God the Son or as the son of Joseph during the midrash. But whatever else is going on here, this episode shows us that Joseph and Mary’s genuine and delighted worship of God and their faithful obedience to God’s Law paid off in their Son’s life!
I’m sure there were times when Jesus was a toddler and they took Him to the Temple for Passover that His mother wondered if any of it was getting through to Him, but when she saw Him holding His own as He discussed Torah with the top theologians in Judea, she had to understand how great an impact her faithfulness had on her Son’s spiritual life.
Christian parents, God has set forth a pattern of faithful family life for you to follow. Let your worship be genuine before your children; let them see your consistency in worship, let them see your delight in it—and trust that they are benefiting from it even when you can’t see it!
God has set forth a pattern of faithful family life for parents to follow as they model genuine worship for their children. But there is more to see here in this account, as we look at Jesus’ relationship with His parents. We read in Luke 2:52 that
Luke 2:52 (ESV)
52 ...Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
And so let us consider what God says about how a Christian son or daughter is called to grow up. The Scriptures give you this example of Jesus’ life to exhort you to

II. Let your GROWTH be HONORING before God and man (Luke 2:46-52)

Look again at verse 46:
Luke 2:46 (ESV)
46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Now, Joseph and Mary were probably not searching Jerusalem for three days—this probably refers to the entire period from when they left Jerusalem (one day) to realizing He was missing and then returning (another day), and on the third day they found Him in the Temple. So Jesus had been separated from His parents for three days—and for those three days He had been in and around the Temple, attending the lectures and disputations of the rabbis.
And what was He doing? Was He lecturing them, or calling them to account for their sin, or shutting down their arguments and putting them in their place? No—He was listening to them; He was asking questions. This is the first example for you as you grow in your faith—you are called to honor God by growing
With HUMILITY before your TEACHERS (v. 47)
When you consider who Jesus was likely dealing with in this passage, His humility before these teachers becomes even more remarkable—some of these same teachers may very well have been members of the Sanhedrin twenty years later; it is entirely possible that Annas or Caiaphas themselves may have been in attendance at one point or another—the very men who would pronounce Him guilty of blasphemy and arrange to have Him executed rather than lose their power.
Beloved, if Christ Himself could act with humility and deference before teachers that would someday be involved in His betrayal and murder, how much more can you act with humility before your teachers and elders in the faith, even if they are less than perfect in their theology?
To grow in wisdom and favor with God and men like Jesus did means that you act with humility before your teachers—and in the following verses we see that it means to act
With RESPECT for your PARENTS (vv. 48-49)
Look at verses 48-49:
Luke 2:48–49 (ESV)
48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Joseph and Mary, no doubt frazzled and anxious over spending three days worrying about Him, were astonished to see Him calmly participating in the rabbinic midrash as if He belonged there, with no indication that He had any idea how much His disappearance had distressed them.
But when Mary scolded Him for the way He had treated them, He didn’t fire back, He didn’t chafe, He didn’t put her in her place or snap back at her, did He? If anything, He seems to be puzzled by their anxiety: “Why were you looking for Me?” His response seems to indicate that their devotion to God was so unquestioned in His mind that it simply didn’t occur to Him that they wouldn’t be fine with Him staying behind at the Temple.
Again—we can’t parse the human and divine nature of Christ to the point where we can understand whether He did or didn’t know how they would react. But the takeaway here is that His response seems to assume the best about His parents; he doesn’t scoff at them or put them down for being worried, He treated them with respect, even when they didn’t understand what He was doing, or why.
When He said “I must be in my Father’s house” (or as other translations say, “About my Father’s business”), it confused them even further—
Luke 2:50 (ESV)
50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
His father’s business was carpentry after all! No one had ever spoken of God as their Father the way Jesus would throughout His life—His relationship with God was one that His parents couldn’t understand.
Some of you know exactly what that feels like, don’t you? Your parents don’t “get” your Christianity, they don’t understand why you “need” to be at church all the time; they may even resent you or snap at you for your commitment to your Heavenly Father. Jesus shows you how you respond—not with rancor or defensiveness or a pious lecture on holiness. You respond the way Jesus did to His parent’s confusion:
Luke 2:50–51 (ESV)
50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them...
In other words, even when your family does not understand, you treat them with the respect and honor that they deserve. You presume the best about them, you do everything you can to demonstrate your love for them, you find ways to honor them even if they do not share your faith in Christ. Jesus’ parents most certainly did love God, but when Jesus’ devotion to His Father went beyond what they could understand He didn’t despise them or refuse to acknowledge their authority.
And if the sinless Son of God could voluntarily submit to sinful, imperfect parents, then so can you. Especially because you are not on the same level as Jesus—unlike Him, you might be wrong!
You honor God when you act with humility before your teachers, you honor God when you act with respect towards your parents as you grow in your faith. But in the context of that respect, it is important to understand that Jesus responded
With NO APOLOGIES for God’s CALL
At first glance this might be easy to miss—but look carefully and you’ll see Mary’s words in verse 48 seem to expect an apology from Jesus, don’t they? “Why have you treated us so?” The natural response to that kind of statement—the kind of thing that we might say—is to say, “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to upset you!”
But notice here that, while Jesus is being respectful and honoring His parents, He does not apologize for God’s call on His life. When He says, “I must be in My Father’s house”, the underlying connotation in the original language comes across as “It was required of Me to be here...” Jesus knew He had to go to the Temple, and He may have presumed that His parents would have approved, but even if they didn’t He was not going to apologize for obeying God.
Beloved, if you belong to a family that doesn’t understand the call God has on your life, you are required to treat them with all the dignity and respect and love and honor you can—but you must not apologize for it. Because apologizing for something you didn’t do is to lie about it. And it is fundamentally dishonoring to your family to lie to them.
If you are confronted with family members who try to shame you or accuse you of being heartless or who try to manipulate your love for them to try to get you to abandon God’s call for your life or get you to say you’re sorry for obeying God, you must remember what Jesus shows you here. You don’t apologize for obeying God, even if it “hurts their feelings”. You love them from the heart, you pray for them, you do your best to explain to them the necessity you are laboring under, but you do not let them dissuade you.
Jesus knows what it is like for His family to not understand what He was doing—here in Luke 2 his mother scolded Him, later on in Luke 8, she would come with His step-brothers to take Him away because they thought He was mentally unbalanced. In John 7, His step-brothers teased Him that He should go make a public show of Himself at the Feast of Tabernacles, if He thought He was so special:
John 7:3–5 (ESV)
3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
But none of those things ever caused Jesus to apologize or back off or walk away from the call of His Father in heaven. And so, to you who are being pulled in every direction by people who you love that don’t understand your faith, to you whose parents think you’re throwing your life away, to you whose siblings despise you as a religious zealot, to you who have endured the tears of a mother who asks, “Why are you doing this to me?” This same Jesus, who suffered in every way like you, has made you a promise:
Mark 10:29–30 (ESV)
29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Even if your family never understands your faith, even if belonging to Christ means you can never really “belong” at home anymore, He has promised you an even greater home, an even more beloved family—a home and a family that you will never lose, because they will be yours throughout all eternity! A family who will pray with you for your unbelieving family, a fellowship where you will belong even when no one else will have you. Your obedience to God’s call may separate you from your loved ones, but it will never separate you from the love of your Savior!
So make it your aim, Christian, to be this kind of faithful family for the sake of God’s glory—moms and dads, let your children see your genuine, consistent, delighted worship of God, and teach them to delight in it as well. Sons and daughters, see to it that you honor God in the way you grow in your faith before Him and before man—honoring those to whom your honor is due, whether teachers or elders or parents, whether they are faithful or nominal, believing or unbelieving. Cultivate love and respect while you unapologetically press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in your Savior, Jesus Christ!
BENEDICTION:
Jude 24–25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

What are some attitudes parents can have towards worship that have a negative impact on their children’s faith? How did Joseph and Mary’s genuine faith positively impact Jesus’s childhood?
How can you demonstrate your committed delight for the worship of God to your children? If you do not have children, how does your attitude toward the gathered worship of God impact the children who are present?
Did Jesus stay behind in Jerusalem because He didn’t care about what His parents would think? Was this disobedience on His part? Why or why not? How do Jesus’ actions in this passage help us understand our responsibilities towards our families in relation to our obedience to God?
Why were Joseph and Mary confused when Jesus said that He needed to be in His Father’s house? How did Jesus respond to their confusion? What does this teach you about how to respond to family members who don’t “get” your relationship to your Heavenly Father?
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