Our Coming Saviour – 4 Strands of spiritual growth

Sermon

Luke 2:41-52 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 travelled on for a day. 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?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 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 favour with God and man.

We know the boy was special. We have just remembered all that happened at his birth. There were angles singing, Herod frightened, Wise men wondering, Shepherds gazing, John the Baptist calling, Elizabeth and Zachariah rejoicing, Mary pondering all this in her heart.

God’s glory turned up on our experience in the way we can grasp – one of us, as Isaiah and all the prophets said – “Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God” in flesh and blood – and all for the love of the world, not to condemn anyone but to invite everyone in from the highways and byways to taste and see that the Lord is good and be regenerated in heart, mind and body by his presence…

We know the boy was special.

Luke gives us just a glimpse of a teenage Jesus. He is still special 10 years or so on.

Jesus has this concern, this interest, this drive, this shape to him that is unusual among teenage boys. Jesus, the young lad is consumed by this shape, this character, this interest.

It ends up getting him trouble one day. While he is where he wants to be dicing it with the people he finds fascinating (and they him) in the temple, his family is already on the road heading home from the city after the festival. After assuming the teenager was somewhere among the relatives and friends heading back home to Nazareth, they finally realise that the boy is not with them.

Now, this is dreadful feeling. As a parent who has had that awful feeling that one of the kids is lost on my watch, I can only imagine the more and more frenzied panic that must have set in as Mary and Joseph search for the young man among the travelling group.

Then I can imagine the anger quickly overcome with relief and joy they might have felt when after having to back track all the way to the city, they finally track down Jesus in the temple with all the bearded men talking theology – as if nothing has happened! Do you hug the boy or get stuck into him about ‘growing up’ and ‘taking responsibility’!?

Whatever they did, you can tell that Luke wants us to know that the young man is that same baby of promise and God’s plan is very much on track.

This interest and drive to be around the word of God, the holy things of God and the people of God will mark this young man’s life. Later on he will come back to this temple and clear it of trading tables and money exchange booths in pure zeal for “my Father’s house”. Jesus sees things differently than other people right the way through. His vision of ‘church’ is not really the building or the stuff in it so much as God being present among his people – “his own Father’s house”.

Luke tells us what happens as the dust settles on this particular snapshot in time. Mary does her wonderful “pondering all these things in her heart” and;

52 …Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

That is what being in God’s presence does for us all, especially the teenagers. It helps us grow in on four ways.

The Word of God grows us in the wisdom of God. This begins with humility before God – a respect in the heart for the things of God, the Word of God and the people of God. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning point of all wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10).

What we hear from the Lord in his Word shapes our lives so we know what to do and say at the just the right moment.

Jesus grew in stature – place, understanding of God and the world – knowledge, awareness…. This Word of God we hear is not merely another story among many that a person can choose to enjoy or take pride in or learn. The Word of God is a force, a power and spiritual reality that shapes a person and creates the very things we need to be in order to be a fuller, more complete more aware, more understanding, person. God actually shapes us by the telling of Christmas and all the rest.

Jesus grows into favour with God and with other people. We might say “respect” or “place” among peers and in God’s calling on our lives. With a heart open to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit does call me, shape me, and give me a part to play in his mission community called the local church serving the world.

As I relate to other Christians, and bear witness to the love of God in Jesus in quiet and sometime quite verbal ways, my connection to my heavenly Father grows. I never need to demand more of or preach at people by telling them what they should believe, but simply invite them to see what I have seen in Jesus. Respect often grows and the genuine questions inevitably come.

We want this 4 stranded kind of growing in or congregation. We want to be a part of helping our children and young people to grow in these ways as Jesus grew – “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man”.

How will this happen? Will it be by doing more programs, being more active, spending more money, being more creative, – well maybe. But it always happens when we are “about our Father’s house”.

As we have our hearts set on the love of our heavenly Father in the shape of his Son, our Saviour Jesus, this will come out of us in everything we are and do and then we will grow and so ill the young as they also are like this – like Jesus when he was 13.

If we want our children and young people to grow in wisdom and stature and favour with the Lord and other people when Paul has some encouragement and calling for us as we close off Christmas and enter New year one more time.

He says a growing church with growing young people and families will do these kinds of things.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Yes, let him rule in our hearts that are full of thankfulness for everything we receive from his hand.

Yes, practice forgiveness. Say it. Do it. Mean it.

Share the word, share life in the word, share the experiences God gives with each other, including the teens and the little kids.

Sing. Sing a lot pray all the time for people – known to them or secretly.

Trust the Jesus is everywhere you go and in your work and home and decisions and troubles and live in his good name – in his good presence receiving his good gifts so you grow in his wisdom and favour above all others.

And in it all, and through it all love and learn to love and give love and receive God’s love in Christ over and over again until one day you look at what we have become – a local Christian community who value and teach and love our teenagers and children and support their parents in a million ways because we know that as we do, God will grow them in wisdom and stature and favour with him and people.

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