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Jesus, the boy of Hope

Jesus, the boy of Hope

This weekend, as many of you may know, we had our family camp down at Collaroy, at the salvation Army site. We were blessed with wonderful weather and a great turnout.

By God’s grace, I can report that the camp was a huge success and that those who attended, by all accounts, left refreshed and ready for the weeks and the months and God willing, the years ahead. We were truly blessed with wonderful fellowship, the strengthening of so many special relationships.

Brothers and sisters, what is our understanding of the essence of Jesus, the Christ. When we think about Him or talk about Him, what do we think, or understand about Him?

This evening, lets look at the story of Jesus as a boy, in growing up in  the house of his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, and, on one level, realise how much we can know of this Jesus, because He was just an ordinary Boy.

 And if you will, we might focus on the things that happened as Jesus went with Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem, to celebrate Passover and so on, and to draw from it one of the core truths that ultimately, we may learn from our passage and related passages – and indeed from the whole Bible – that beginning in the boy Jesus, the boy of flesh and blood, we may have hope in a the fullness of time when all heartache and suffering will cease.

And, to get somewhat ahead of myself,  I hope that we will see that it was because Jesus was an ordinary boy – but at the same time God – that we may have the hope of this glorious future, when we will all be together again, when we all come to our full potential, which is to glorify God in all that we do and say and think, all of us sharing in the Glory of God.

Brothers and sisters, imagine, with me, a 12 year old boy, sitting there in that empty chair. 

Let’s pretend that we have asked the boy what he has been up to lately, and he has said:

Oh, I spent a great deal of time playing with my mates. But you know, I almost got in trouble. I had been visiting Church with my parents and when the time came to leave, I sort of got involved in this great talk with the minister about God’s plan for his world.

I became so engrossed in this discussion that I never noticed when my parents left, and they were kind of busy so they didn’t realise I was not with them, and so for three days I just hung out here, safely in Church …until my mother found me back here. Man was she angry!

Imagine that boy, sitting in that chair…. And I want to leave you with that thought for now as I continue…

Brothers and sisters, losing a loved one to death, is always hard. If that loved one is a child of yours, the pain must be near unbearable!

Off course it is always sad when someone dies, but when a child dies before his or her parents do, the heartbreak is all the more intense… all the more devastating.

We see something of this potential pain, the anguish, a parent will suffer in the event of a child dying all too soon, in our text, Luke 2:34, and especially in the very last part of the verse, where Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary, the following:

 

Soon, all too soon, she will experience something regarding the life of Jesus, her child… that will be “like a sword piercing your soul.”

When Jesus is forcefully grabbed from among His disciples, dragged into a prison cell tried, beaten, spat upon, beaten some more, made to carry His cross over his broken shoulders up a hill, the load so much more than he can bear – and Mary, his mother must have been aware of all of this.

She, as we shall se from our passage, either, By God’s grace did not know or may have forgotten, that Jesus was special, and that there was no escaping what he was going through in those horrific days, but the harsh reality of course is that she must have know how Jesus suffered and as His mother, could do nothing about it.

It must truly have been like a sword driven through her soul!

For Jesus, as he was suffering, was at that time a very ordinary man, a man that had grown up from the 12 year old boy Jesus, the ordinary 12 year old boy who had done all the things that 12-year olds do and now, as a man, was suffering just the same any ordinary 33 year old man would if they were to beat him to within an inch of is life, nail him to a cross, and left in the heat of day and the cold of night, to die. 

Return briefly, if you will please, in your minds, to the boy you have placed in the chair – and let’s now see the story continue. Let’s  call the Boy, Jesus…and knowing the story of Jesus’ life, lets fill in the gaps. Jesus, the boy in the chair, has grown up and it is this Jesus, the once not too long ago boy Jesus, who is the one suffering all that Scripture describes to us!

            Does that change your idea of who the boy in the chair is? Are we unable to think of Jesus as an ordinary boy, who would grow up, become a 17-year-old, and 18-year-old, a thirty-year-old and…a 33-year-old, being nailed to a cross.

Do you think about the young Jesus differently to any other 12-year old boy?

It is difficult not too, but it is important that we remember that Jesus, in the time that he spent on earth with us, was an ordinary baby, an ordinary child, an ordinary man of flesh and blood.

And at the same time, this Jesus, who in so many ways will be so ordinary, as we may deduce from our passage, will in many ways also be different to an ordinary child.

           

So, as we take one last look at the ordinary Jesus, let’s consider, too, how he is different:

How, in Jesus’ ordinariness, except for the fact that he had no sin, was he different in his life and ultimately,

                                    importantly, different in His death!

 

Why do we want to explore this? Because, I hope that we will see that it is because Jesus was ordinary, and different that we may have hope for the future, hope to share in the glory of God; and because that in the end, because in in spite of the fact that He was like us, it was because he was so completely different to us that no one, none of us, will ever be the same again!

We pick up the story before even Mary or Joseph can fully understand this. Even they are confused…

                        And they were there, from the very beginning!

 

So lets cut ourselves some slack if we find it difficult to understand all at once.

 

 

Brothers and sisters, so, how much do we really grasp of the implication of the birth, the life and the death of Jesus, He who we profess to be our Saviour?

In the handout you have, there are references which highlight the humanity of Jesus, and it may be good that at some stage we take note of it. In fact, we need to work from that very foundation, but how was He different to us?

Well, for one thing, His birth had been predicted hundreds of years before he was actually born;

For another, He was indeed, as predicted, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit;

            Luke 1”verse 35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

                                                   So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God!

 

And further on, another clue, when we are given a clue as to Jesus being anything but ordinary

                        – His name

The verse reads  “…he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

And “Jesus” means…Saviour!

            And when an Angel names Him thus, you just know it is special! Both cases…different!

            And that event was so special, at His birth, angels were singing – that’s different:

Luke 2: verse 13:  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

As an infant He was even gaurded over by an Angel, when not even a powerful king, Herod, could succeed to have Jesus killed ...

Matthew 2: Verse 13 “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

And so our Lord comes to this earth, for our sake, and next in Luke we see him, as in the natural progression of things, as a baby first, then a boy, then a man…

            But, to keep our train of thought…In what way, then, was His later life special?

Verse 21: 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

There is nothing out of the ordinary, at face value, of Jesus being circumcised. He was a Jewish boy, and from the earliest of times, Jewish boys were devoted to God by being circumcised on the eighth day. You can imagine him crying as the rabbi circumcised Him…

For the broader Jewish community, this was just another circumcision, the fulfillment of another law, another ritual.

Here was an “unclean” child, and you can see the irony in that… who had to be “cleansed”

Here was a child who shared in the sins of the fathers, and for whom an offering had to be brought so that the wrath of God would be passed onto the offering, not the human, as would have been fair but for the grace of God.

Except…he had no sin – and that is totally different!

And then we read about Jesus as a young boy, a twelve year old boy, doing, presumably, what 12-year-old boys do…

            for that, it seems, is what Mary and Joseph did as we read Luke’s account of the life and times (limited as it is in scope) of Jesus as a child:

                        they considered Jesus an ordinary 12 year old boy.

The section starting at verse 41 of chapter 2 and continuing to verse 45, indicates that Jesus, as a young boy, was indeed very much ordinary.

We see Him here going to the temple with His parents, as one does if you are a Jewish boy; and he plays with His mates along the way (as one does, whether you are Jewish or not)

Certainly Mary thinks he is ordinary…you know how it can sometimes work… why else will it take her a whole day to realise he is not with them and then start worrying about Him?

Mary, when she first notices Jesus is not with them, must be thinking, “man, that child needs a thrashing. He has no concept of time and how much we worry about Him. I wonder when he thinks he will come home?

And then, gradually, she worries a bit more…but when he still does not show up, they seriously start looking for Him, really worried as to what may have happened to Him.

When they find Him, three days later, and ask Him where he has been, it is Jesus Himself who gives them the best clue as to how special He is: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

                         That’s way different!

 

And by the way, Brothers and Sisters, this is the first time that Jesus tells anyone, who He is.

Here, he tells it outright to His parents

            …and there reaction?

                                verse 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 

What he was saying to them, was: Don’t worry, Hope in the future, for my time is drawing near in which I will ensure ever lasting life for all. You may not know it now, but I am on my way to the Cross, and I have work to do hear and now before the fullness of time comes, when all will be together again. Don’t worry if you do not see me know. The day of the Lord will come, and then all will be well.

But for now, Jesus is growing, and for this purpose, for doing His Fathers bidding, He  will be strengthened and nourished by God:

            verse 40: He grew and became strong and he was ….”filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.

And verse 52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and men.”

But in the meantime, Jesus, as a 12 year old still, may seem ordinary… verses 51 and 52, “ 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.and then a real eye opener…verse 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

            Here in this verse, we have a direct link verse 40… “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

And in its linking, it at once looks backwards…and into the future, for it reminds one of what was said to Mary in our text, in verse 34: Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

            This brothers and sisters is a reference to an Old Testament text, Isaiah 8:13, which reads,

“The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,

            he is the one you are to fear,

he is the one you are to dread,



 

 

14 and he will be a sanctuary;

but for both houses of Israel he will be

a stone that causes men to stumble

and a rock that makes them fall.

 

How special is that.

Where is this leading to?

It all leads to one realization, brothers and sisters, that Jesus, the ordinary boy, the ordinary child , the ordinary young man, was at once also, completely God – Jesus is fully man and fully God and only because this is so, can we hope in the participation of the future glory of God! Our future, lies in this ordinary child, the 12 year old boy we picture in the chair – and God almighty that we may know of and about, by God’s grace alone!

 

Not that that would make our suffering here on earth insignificant. The bible clearly says that Jesus’ mother, Mary, not even she would be spared the suffering. Jesus’ death would be like a sword piercing her heart.

We live in a broken world, a sinful world.  But we can hope in a glorious future, know that we will share in a wonderful future Kingdom of God, but only because And Jesus, too, once an ordinary man, would suffer immeasurably. Only because he did, can we look forward to life everlasting, and in the fellowship of the saints, God’s chosen ones, all magnificently in His presence.

But for that, brothers and sisters, Jesus had to be an ordinary man.

You see, if it was not so, if Jesus was not fully and in every sense an ordinary man, he could not really have suffered, not really have paid the price for our sins,

for as God He would not feel pain and disheartenment, hopelessness and despair, as we know Jesus did

and if He was not fully God, he could not have overcome death on our behalf.

            How wonderful is the hope in that?

 

Jesus did die, did suffer… we see something of the suffering that He must have experienced in our scientific knowledge of crucifixion  and…and, of course, we can know something of his mother’s pain, when we reconsider our text, that it would feel like a sword would be thrust through her heart.

Let me say it again: Jesus’ life was certainly the same, and yet so totally different to that of ordinary men in Jesus’ time.

How?

Let the word of God illustrate how Jesus was fully man and fully God – and the implication of it:

At your leisure, you might want to go through the handout as a reference to a list of Jesus’ human characteristics.

And as you do, you will see

            He was indeed ordinary in his physical needs and longings.

Jesus became hungry;

            sad;      angry;   and even tired;

                                                            he felt pain.

But Jesus was wonderfully special. Jesus was God!

As an adult, He would command the elements and they would obey Him.

            He would turn water into wine; he would heal the sick, raise the dead;

                        wherever He went, people would follow Him in great numbers, eager for His healing touch (Acts  10:38).

But, in all of His life, He would do no sin... and yet,

            He would suffer the ultimate punishment for the sins of mankind.

                        His death would be the sword that would pierce Mary’s soul, the anguish of a mother whose child’s life would excruciatingly painfully, be choked out of Him!

But His death would be a two edged sword,

            the one side cutting through Mary’s – and our own – souls;

                        the other side striking a blow against death itself...for ever.

Which brings us then especially as to how Jesus’ was special in His death and, most important of all, His victory over death!

When Luke records the prediction of the Old Testament and brings it into account here in his gospel, as part of his explanation of who Jesus is, (verse 34) “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”

           

he points his readers to Jesus’ life, for sure, but also, ultimately, His death on the cross, all as confirmation that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah.

So how exactly, then, was Jesus different in His death

            In the fulfillment of the prophecy, as it continues to this very day…

Jesus would be rejected by some, followed by many, He would be a sign (the sign of the cross) and the thoughts of many would be revealed by this child, this boy, this man…Jesus the Christ.

Brothers and sisters, consider the boy Jesus in the chair, as a human boy, a 12 year old.

            Now look towards the cross in your minds eye and see Jesus on the cross,

                        And now see the empty tomb…

                                    And now see Jesus departing for heaven, as if on a cloud

And if you dare, see Jesus returning. Hear the trumpets call.

Jesus was ordinary, because we are ordinary.

Jesus had to be ordinary so as to leave us with an example of how we should be,

            and to become like Him.

Do we trust our lives entirely to God?

            Do we love unconditionally, as He loved, or is our conditional love towards many and our love for this fallen world the stumbling block we can’t get over?

            Is that what our Lord Jesus died for,

           

When we think of Jesus, does he remain a 12 year old boy, or a man dying on a cross. Is that where our reason will leave us …or doe we see Jesus beyond the cross. Does he become God our only hope, His cross our only salvation.

I come towards the end.

As part of my closing, please, if you will, turn to Isaiah 53 in your Bibles – Isa 53: verses 1-7:

53: 1     Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

How wonderful is our Lord Jesus, the boy on his way to the temple in Jerusalem, our Saviour healing and serving and teaching…and our redeemer on the cross!

How blessed are we that He is our Saviour, that by God’s grace we may know Him, believe in Him, be saved by Him!

It is this Jesus who lives on, even though He was crucified, who was dead and buried, and it was this Jesus who rose again to sit at the right hand of God.

By God’s grace we may believe this. We are chosen to believe this.

            Believe, brothers and sisters, pray, and believe,

and live each day in the hope of the glory of our Lord and Saviour,

           

Jesus is the Boy who once trod on this earth, who is even now in His father’s house, preparing a room for you and me …and for all of those loved ones we may have lost along the way.

Believe that in the hope and reality of this Jesus, we will all, soon, be together again!.

Amen

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