“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.’ 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.” Luke 2:46-50 (Read Luke 2:41-52)
It is amazing, isn’t it? Rather than returning with his parents and running with the other boys his age on their journey home, what did the 12-year-old Jesus do? After three days, He was still in Jerusalem, in the temple, sitting among the teachers of God’s Word, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Jesus were astonished at His understanding and answers.
Some would imagine that Jesus, because He was and is the Son of God, was lecturing the teachers of the law. But it doesn’t say that. Instead, He was listening to them and asking them questions. We must remember that though Jesus had all knowledge, He humbled Himself and studied and learned the Scriptures just as we are enjoined to do by God in His Word (cf. Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:14-17).
As Jesus said (v. 49), He was about His Father’s business. He was learning and studying God’s Word. His delight was in the law of the LORD, and in His law He meditated day and night (Psalm 1:2). He loved the LORD God with all His heart and with all His soul and delighted in learning God’s Word.
In the commandments (Ex. 20 and Deut. 5), we are told to “Sanctify the Holy Day.” Luther explains this in his Small Catechism: “We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” And if you wish to see what obedience to this commandment looks like, look at Jesus!
The fact that He delighted in the LORD God and His Word and sought Him with the whole heart (cf. Psalm 37:4; 119:2) amazed His parents, and it amazes us too because we do not — as we are by nature since the fall — have such love for God or the desire to learn of Him and His ways. What would you have been doing at 12 years old? What do you do even yet today?
To be honest with you, I’ve heard complaints about sermons which are too long but seldom that they are too short. I’ve not had church members suggest we stay on into Sunday afternoons or, much less, into extra days to dig deeper into the Bible and consider its teaching. Seldom does anyone suggest we have more services, but sometimes people suggest we have less. Yet, if we loved the LORD God with all our heart and soul and delighted in His Word, we just might do as Jesus did — continue on at church for days in the study of the Scriptures.
We come so far short of God’s commandments, but Jesus’ love for the Father and for the Word of God is evidence of His holy life in our stead. Jesus fulfilled God’s commandments for us and then suffered and died on the cross and rose again that He might bear our punishment and win for us forgiveness and life everlasting in fellowship with God the Father.
When we acknowledge our sinfulness and our failures to keep God’s laws and look in faith to Jesus and His life and death in our stead, we obtain mercy and receive forgiveness from God and life eternal (1 John 1:7 — 2:2; John 3:14ff.; Psalm 32:1-6). Only through faith in Christ Jesus can we return to God and live.
And, having God’s pardon and forgiveness, as well as His promise of eternal life, we will want to devote ourselves to the diligent use of the Word and Sacraments that we might be strengthened and preserved in the true faith unto life everlasting.
Again, I remind you of the summary of Scriptural teaching found in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration: “13] Therefore, if we wish to think or speak correctly and profitably concerning eternal election, or the predestination and ordination of the children of God to eternal life, we should accustom ourselves not to speculate concerning the bare, secret, concealed, inscrutable foreknowledge of God, but how the counsel, purpose, and ordination of God in Christ Jesus, who is the true Book of Life, is revealed to us through the Word, 14] namely, that the entire doctrine concerning the purpose, counsel, will, and ordination of God pertaining to our redemption, call, justification, and salvation should be taken together; as Paul treats and has explained this article Rom. 8:29f.; Eph. 1:4f., as also Christ in the parable, Matt. 22:1ff., namely, that God in His purpose and counsel ordained [decreed]: 15] 1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life. 16] 2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments. 17] 3. That by His Holy Ghost, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, He will be efficacious and active in us, convert hearts to true repentance, and preserve them in the true faith. 18] 4. That He will justify all those who in true repentance receive Christ by a true faith, and will receive them into grace, the adoption of sons, and the inheritance of eternal life. 19] 5. That He will also sanctify in love those who are thus justified, as St. Paul says, Eph. 1:4. 20] 6. That He also will protect them in their great weakness against the devil, the world, and the flesh, and rule and lead them in His ways, raise them again [place His hand beneath them], when they stumble, comfort them under the cross and in temptation, and preserve them [for life eternal]. 21] 7. That He will also strengthen, increase, and support to the end the good work which He has begun in them, if they adhere to God’s Word, pray diligently, abide in God’s goodness [grace], and faithfully use the gifts received. 22] 8. That finally He will eternally save and glorify in life eternal those whom He has elected, called, and justified.”
And, I challenge you to devote yourself to the regular use of the Means of Grace, to regular attendance at the services of God’s House and to regular use of the Sacraments, to studying the Scripture and the teaching of Holy Scriptures at home, to the reading and study of Luther’s Small Catechism and looking up the Scriptures and prayerfully considering the truths of God’s Word that you might, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament, become firmly established in the true faith and continue in it unto life everlasting (cf. 2 Tim. 3:14-17; John 8:31-32; Acts 17:11; Heb. 4:11ff.; Eph. 4:11-16).
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for fulfilling in our stead all righteousness and paying the just debt of our sins by Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. Grant us faith in You and Your cross for pardon and forgiveness and give to us a sincere and ever-growing love for You and Your Word. We ask this for the sake of Your atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Amen.
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]
For those willing to join me in studying Luther’s Small Catechism, an excellent copy of the Catechism for study may be ordered at Luther’s Small Catechism: An Introduction to the Catholic Faith.