Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have given us the light of Your holy Word, the guiding star that leads us to the Christ-child: Send, we beseech You, Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we may receive this light and make use of it for our salvation, and that we, like the wise men, when they were seeking the star, may not be afraid because of any hardship or peril, but put all our trust in Your only-begotten Son as our only Savior, devote our earthly possessions to the advancement of Your kingdom, and in all things serve Him, Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.

 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;

 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.

 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

 46 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.

 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

 48 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.”

 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Where the Father Conducts His Business

Dear fellow redeemed,

It was the last plague. The plague that would break Pharaoh’s back. It was the plague that would free the Israelites from their slavery under the Egyptians. In this plague, the Lord would bring death to the firstborn of man and animal to the land of Egypt. Those whose door lintels were marked with the blood of a lamb would be spared from death. The Lord would pass over them. This was the Lord’s Passover. God instructed His people to observe the Passover each year. He said, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (Ex 12:14). He even says where they should celebrate it, “You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose” (Deut 16:6).

Our Gospel text tells us of the faithful example of Joseph and Mary, who went to the place that the Lord God had chosen for the Feast of the Passover.

It was their custom, or their habit. The Greek word is ethos, which is the same word used in Hebrews 10:25, where it says, “Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Whereas some make it a habit to neglect the meeting together of God’s people, it was the habit of Joseph and Mary to meet together with God’s people. And so they did, making the 70 mile trek each year to Jerusalem, at the very least three times each year for the three major festivals. And this besides his attendance at the local synagogue in Nazareth.

They were performing the duties of their vocation as parents. They not only provided for Jesus’ earthly needs, but they also did their duty of bringing Him to the Father’s house, to gather with God’s people, give sacrifices, celebrate the Passover, worship, sing psalms and learn God’s Word.

Now, I’m not speaking just to myself and the other parents of this congregation, but also to the grandparents, and adults who are of the same church family as the children here, are not the children of this congregation, also children of the heavenly Father? You children of this congregation are baptized into Christ and are made God’s own children.

And not only are the children here today present sons and daughters of God, but all of us are. And this is our Father’s house, and He calls us here to be in His saving Word. Since we consider the young Jesus in the temple our focus today is on the training of the young. So parents, are you making it your highest priority that you faithfully bring your children to the Father’s house, that you diligently teach them of their sinfulness and the salvation Christ has won for them by His cross? Members of the congregation, do you value the children here, and see it as an essential mission of this congregation to feed Jesus’ lambs the Word of God?

They need it, because they are sinners. You children, you have come to know this. Do you zealously study God’s Word? Do you delight in His law, and seek to live it out in every thought you think, in every decision you make, in every relationship you have, and in every word you use. Do you faithfully and willingly submit to the authority of your parents and superiors? Do you pray to God in every need? Or do you let a day or days go by without praying to your Father in heaven? If it were up to you, would you come to the Father’s House? While in college do you or will you seek out a church that faithfully teaches God’s Word? Do you grasp His Word, hear it, study it, and inwardly digest it with grateful hearts?

The youth get this sinfulness from their parents, don’t they? This is the sinful nature. This is our natural aversion to God’s Word and the Father’s House. We do not treasure God’s Word as the One Thing Needful. We sometimes lack the desire to grow in the knowledge of our Savior, to strengthen our faith, to become better equipped to share the faith, and to conform our lives more and more to God’s Word.

We need God’s Word of Grace don’t we, and we have a thousand reasons every week to go to His house and seek His mercy.

God makes His house here on earth because He loves us. His house is wherever His people gather around His Word and Sacraments. And He invites us in so that we may find refreshment, comfort and healing in His grace and forgiveness. In His house we are strengthened in faith, and made to grow in stature before God, putting on Christ that grow in godliness after the image of God. That is the business that goes on in the Father’s house.

But what about Jesus? He was there in the Father’s house, but He was not in need of forgiveness. He had no sin. So why was He in the Father’s house at 12 years old? Well, for starters, He provides a good example for both the children and the adults. But Jesus is more than just an example isn’t He. Otherwise, we would all be doomed, because His perfection puts our sinfulness to shame. Jesus is in the temple at 12 years old, because He was performing the Father’s business. Where we have failed He has succeeded. He perfectly loved God’s Word and the Father’s House. He perfectly submitted to His parents and authority. He lives the perfect life of a child that He may sanctify the lives of children. 

He lives the perfect life that His righteousness may be credited to their faith. He lives the perfect life, that He may be the true Passover Lamb without blemish or spot, who gives up His life as the sacrifice to save us from sin and death.

Jesus who was in the Father’s house as a 12 year old boy is still in the Father’s house as your victorious and ascended Lord. He is here with you and for you, children, and for you adults. He is present in the means of grace to forgive you children all the sins that you have committed against God and against your parents. He forgives you parents, whether your children are young or old, for the times where you neglected to bring your children to the Father’s House and to share with them the knowledge of the Savior. He forgives all of you whether you have neglected to gather in the Father’s house, whether you have despised His Word. He forgives you every sin.

Through faith, you are as perfect in the Father’s eyes, as that boy in the Father’s house delighting in His Father’s Word. Yes, you are righteous in His sight.

So by the grace of God, and motivated by His forgiveness, let us gain some good habits. Let us be about the business of our Father, who gives us His heavenly treasures through His Word.

The Psalmist said, “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps 84:10). May the Lord grant us the joy and appreciation of being in the Father’s house, as though this is the very threshold of heaven. And may He forgive us when we are not so excited to be here. The awesomeness of God’s grace is that whether or not we have the joy and appreciation of being here, it is better for us nonetheless. Whether you come in here longing for God’s Word of forgiveness or whether you come reluctant or even kicking and screaming, it is better for you to be here, because this is the house of your loving Father in heaven.

Here He works through the Word, splattering the lintels of your heart with the blood of the Lamb. Through His Word, He clothes you in the righteousness of His dear Son. Through His Word He gives to you the freedom from the bondage of sin and death that Christ won on the cross. His Words are the words of everlasting life, giving you life eternal in Christ’s name. His Words works what He wills in your heart, creating and strengthening faith, recreating your in Christ, and giving you strength to have the Word of Christ on your lips, and the desire to do His law in your hearts. All this is yours today through Christ’s Word.

There are no better habits than to be in the Father’s house, and to have God’s Word in our ears, hearts, and upon our mouths.

And may God lead us to do this also for the sake of the children. I’m reminded of a visit we had with my Grandma a couple years ago. She held little baby Lana in her arms and said, “You are a baptized child of God,” and then another time when the boys were singing the great Lutheran hymn “On My Heart Imprint Thine Image” to her, she sang it right along with them by heart. What a blessing for my children to have not just her but many members of our families telling them about Jesus. Sadly, not all children have this. But may all the children find it here in the Father’s House, where the family of God gathers.

May God’s Word flourish here among us, for the comfort of our souls, for Christ’s healing of forgiveness, for strength to follow Him in our pilgrimage, and to give us eternal life. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto everlasting life. Amen.

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