July 8, 2018
Luke 2:41-52; Exodus 20:12
A couple of weeks ago, our neighbors hosted a Saturday morning breakfast. So I went over and had some egg bake and a cup of coffee and talked with my neighbors. All of a sudden a German shepherd and a black lab come running out of someone’s house and head straight for the tents were everyone was sitting. Immediately the owner yelled, “Boys, sit.” And the dogs slammed on the breaks and sat. Eventually, he said release and the dogs walked around for a little bit as people were petting them. Out of nowhere the owner yelled, “Boys, let’s go home.” And the dogs turned and sprinted home just as fast as they sprinted to the party. It was incredible. I’ve never seen dogs with such good obedience. There was no hesitation. No whining. Just obedience.
That type of obedience is hard. I know so, not because I’ve ever trained a dog, but because I’ve been that dog before. I’m sure we all have. When I was younger, we’d be at a party and my parents would say, “Okay guys, start cleaning up. We’re heading home.” No matter what kind of high you’re on from all the excitement, your mood instantly changes when parents say that. Our heads would sink. Our moods would change. Whining would begin. As we begin to put the toys away, tears would start to fall down our faces. Then we began to say things like, “This is unfair! We don’t want to go home.” Claim our parents were mean. I’d like to say that this was a one-time thing. But moments of disobedience filled my childhood. I was never like those dogs. Maybe you weren’t either.
We are in week four of our series called the ten commandments. So far, we’ve seen that the first three commandments deal with our relationship with God. But today, we turn that focus from our relationship with God to our relationship with others. And to begin these relationship-focused commandments, God begins with our relationship to our parents; those in authority over us. Here’s the fourth commandment.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
This morning we are looking at Luke 2 and we are going to see Jesus honor and obey his parents even when it was difficult.
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
Jesus and his family go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The Passover was a Jewish festival that they celebrated once a year. The festival began in 1500 bc when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the Egyptians. The festival was to commemorate and remember how God saved Israel and delivered them from slavery. So once a year, every Jew who could, traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover at the temple there. They come down from Nazareth and spend seven days there which was how long the festival lasted.
We are told that Jesus is twelve now. This is significant because now Jesus was a “son of the law.” He was no longer viewed as a child, but now he was responsible for carrying out the requirement of the laws. That means he now goes behind the scenes and participates in the sacrifices for himself. This was a rite of passage so to speak for a Jewish boy. They spend the entire week there enjoying the festival, and then the week ends. It’s time to go home.
So, the family starts to travel home with their friends and family. The tradition was that men walked with the men, women walked with the women, and the kids walked with the kids. And so, they start to travel back to Nazareth assuming the boy Jesus is among their friends and family.
44b Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Talk about agony for a parent. They traveled for a full day and start looking for Jesus, but they can’t find him. As they search for him, they soon realize he isn’t there and they start back for Jerusalem. Minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days as they look for Jesus. Worry, panic, and fear fill their hearts. For three full days they search for him. Think about that. No cell phones, no internet, no landline phones. There’s no way for them to get ahold of Jesus, or he get ahold of them. Their boy is lost, or maybe he’s kidnapped, or maybe he died. They had no idea.
But finally, after 3 agonizing days, they found him in the temple. When Mary sees him she says to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Now let me ask you, whose fault is it when a child gets lost? When we were younger, we went to Disney world with my family. There were a total of twelve of us all jazzed up to see Mickey and the gang. One day we all went into a gift shop to do some shopping and pick out some souvenirs. Everyone found what they wanted, we purchased our items, and we all left. As we were walking around the park, we realized that there were only eleven of us and that my cousin, Jack, was missing. Panic set in. We start asking around. We finally made our way back to the gift shop, and there Jack was looking at toys. He said when he realized everyone was gone, he figured we’d come back to find him. So he just kept looking at toys. Whose fault was it that my cousin wasn’t with the group? His parents’, right?
Do you know what happens when you something is your fault? You deflect right? It is everyone else’s fault that this happened, but not yours. My Aunt and Uncle could have done that. Mary did do that. “Jesus why did you treat us like this?” But he’s the child. They are the parents and they carelessly left him behind because they assumed he was in their group. And instead of apologizing, Mary blames Jesus.
Notice how Jesus responds? “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” What was Jesus’ point?
Jesus was always respectful as he honored God first.
Jesus is acknowledging the chain of command. God first, parents second. When God’s will and parent’s will don’t align he had to obey God’s will first and honor him. But notice how he does this. He doesn’t roll his eyes. He doesn’t say, “Mom, you just don’t understand.” He doesn’t say, “Look, you messed up lady. I’m God and you’re a sinful woman.” No eye roll, nothing typical of a pre-teen. But, he gently reminds them that God the Father is first, and in doing so also respectfully reminds them that he is no ordinary child. Somehow, some way, God let Jesus know that he needed to be in the temple. And so Jesus was obeying God.
There’s something for us to learn here. Parents you are not the ultimate end all be all in your child’s life. You aren’t their ultimate authority, just like your parents aren’t your ultimate authority. Neither are you the ultimate authority over your own life. Neither does the government. Just because the government says something is legal doesn’t mean that it is God pleasing. The flip side is also true. Just because the government outlaws something, that doesn’t mean it is God pleasing. For instance, if they were to ever outlaw Christianity. We’d still worship God and Jesus because we must obey God first and foremost. He is the ultimate authority. He is king. He is your King; he is your children’s king. But our relationship with him is not one of King and subjects. He is our Father in heaven. He has ultimate authority.
But, if we ever need to say something we do so respectfully, and in a way that still honors our parents as the authority. Because we must obey God first. But, when authority’s will and God’s will co-inside, then we must obey authorities rule. Which is what Jesus does.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Jesus was obedient to his earthly parents.
This to me is just incredible. Jesus, the God of this world, was obedient to sinful people. His creations. Jesus was perfect because he is God. He never sinned. He could have bossed Mary and Joseph around and it would have been okay. As God, he is the ultimate authority. And yet, he was obedient. The Greek word means submissive. He placed himself under them and their will and he listened and obeyed.
He places himself under these sinful parents who lost him. God submits and places himself under the care and direction of people who messed up as parents regularly. Why? Because that was the authority God has established for this life. God first, parents second. In everything that Jesus did he was in perfect obedience to God and to his parents. He never questioned. He never had a bad thought about them when they enforced the rules of the house. He was always obedient, respectful, and he always honored them.
We struggle with that don’t we? We struggle to honor and respect and obey our parents and others in authority. Especially when we think that the authority is wrong or being ridiculous in our eyes. So I want you to know something, and this applies to us all. Here’s the fact: your parents aren’t perfect. They aren’t. They will make mistakes and they will continue to make mistakes. As your parents get older, you’ll be tempted to get frustrated with them. When we realize they aren’t perfect, or when they have a rule for us that we don’t like, or as they get older and frustrate us, what do we do? We tend to not show honor, or respect, or obedience.
I have this distinct memory from when I was 21 years old. I was back from college living at mom’s house. I can’t remember what she was telling me to do or not do. But I remember how the conversation ended. I said, “I’m 21 years old, I’ll do what I want.” Mom didn’t say a thing. She just walked right up to me and slapped me across the face. Deservedly so.
The truth is, God doesn’t say honor and respect your parents until you’re a certain age. It is always. Yes, even when mom or dad calls and they ramble on and on and on. Even then. God doesn’t have fine print where it says, “Only applicable when you feel like it.” He doesn’t say, “Honor your father and mother only when they are deserving of it.” He doesn’t say, “Honor them when they respect you first.” No. Always honor your father and mother. The only time we don’t is if they are asking us to something that is against God’s will, but even then, we do so with respect so that they are honored.
So what’s the main point of all of this? What is it that we are taking home today? During the football season, generally at least once per year someone has an amazing performance. Whether that person rushes for 200 yards, has 200 yards reception, or throws for 5 touchdowns. Someone generally has a big game. Everyone watches and is amazed by the performance. But there are some who view the performance a little differently. They are excited and pumped because they have that guy on their fantasy football team, and his performance just made them win that week. See, we can watch Jesus here and be amazed at his performance or we can realize that he is on our team and that means his performance benefits me. And that’s exactly what the point of this account is.
Jesus’ obedience is my obedience.
Is Jesus a great example? Sure. He shows us how to live. But if that’s all Jesus is to you, you’re missing out on so much. Because we all know how we have failed to show honor and respect to authority. We know the times we’ve disrespected our parents. I admitted just one example from my past. If Jesus is just your example, you can only look at him and admire how great he is. But your guilt and shame are still yours. If he’s just your example, he’s something that you can never live up to. He’s set the bar too high.
But that’s not what Jesus is about. His obedience is yours. You win not because of how obedient you have been. But because of Jesus’ obedience. In everything he did, he was obedient, he was respectful, and he honored every authority there was. Even though he didn’t have to because he is God. He is the ultimate authority. And yet he subjected himself…for you and me. So that we might have perfect obedience on our record.
You don’t get a trophy for being a perfect child because of what you’ve done. You get the trophy for perfect child because of Jesus and his obedience. You don’t receive an award for best parent because of what you’ve done, but because of Jesus’ grace and his perfect life. You don’t receive perfect citizen award because of your actions, but because of Jesus’. He was always obedient always for you. He always honored, always respected, always obeyed the authority, not for himself, but for you. His great performance is your great performance.
And it is his obedience, his submissiveness, that motivates us to honor and respect, and submit ourselves under authority. Because there is no authority that exists that God hasn’t placed into position. So as you feel the temptation to rebel and not being respectful, lean on his obedience. When you fall and you don’t show honor, lean on his obedience. His obedience is yours. His perfect obedience is your perfect obedience.
- What from the sermon piqued your interest or touched your heart?
- Why does God put so much authority in our lives?
- What are the different motivations (good or bad) you have had for obeying authority?
- How does Jesus’ type of obedience change the way you obey the authority God has placed in your life?
- Think of at least two situations when a child would appeal to God’s authority over and above that of his parents.
- What can we pray for?