Luke 2:41–52 (EHV)
41Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42When he was twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the Festival. 43When the days had ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it. 44Since they thought he was in their group, they went a day’s journey. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us this way? See, your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.” 49He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be taking care of my Father’s business?” 50They did not understand what he was telling them. 51He went down with them and came to Nazareth. He was always obedient to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
Dear fellow redeemed: On the one hand, Jesus is God incarnate. On the other hand He humbled Himself to be as we are so that he would have been indistinguishable from other men. So Isaiah predicted, “… He had no attractiveness and no majesty. When we saw him, nothing about his appearance made us desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2, EHV) And so the apostles taught, “but he emptied himself by taking the nature of a servant. When he was born in human likeness, and his appearance was like that of any other man,” (Philippians 2:7, EHV)
Yet there were epiphanies, manifestations, of Jesus as the Christ, God with the Father. He was manifest to the Jews who expected Him and to the gentiles who did not know of Him, beginning with His manifestation to the magi, the men of learning from the East, and continuing with this glimpse of His childhood. These and other manifestations are the focus of the season of Epiphany. This is of particular importance in our day, because the devil seeks to homogenize all religions, as though they were the same, yet Jesus is clearly different from the mere men who set themselves up as religious teachers. Muhammed, for example, is clearly a counterfeit. Born in 570 A.D., he picks bits and snatches of Christianity and Judaism combined with mysticism. But he never claims nor gives evidence of miracles, resurrection, or any divine power.1 He died and was buried, and his tomb with his body is identified even today. The other great religious personage people try to equate with Jesus is Siddhartha Gautama, from roughly the fifth century B.C. During some transcendental meditation, he supposedly became fully aware of the universe and the gods in it, thereby becoming “the Buddha.”2 I could go on with any number of other supposed religious leaders. But it is clear beyond doubt that…
JESUS IS DIFFERENT
I. He Is the Christ
II. He Is Righteous for Us
I. He Is the Christ
Jesus is in fact not just someone who appeared on the scene to provide some new human insight into religion. He is the Christ, the “Anointed One,” who was foretold from the dawn of time, when God said to Satan, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, EHV)
Jesus’ study with the scholars here in our text isn’t to find some new insight, as though the word of God from Moses on was wanting. Rather it was the study of the Scriptures, the revelation of God from the beginning. False religions keep arising, from ancient inventions like Buddhism or Islam to modern inventions like Mormonism or Jehovah’s witnesses, and this is because the philosophies of man always fail.
If you do not acknowledge Christ as Lord, you will wander aimlessly forever “always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7, EHV) Either you go through the narrow gate that leads to Christ and to heaven, or you follow the superhighway of human conjecture to hell and damnation.
Christ shows himself to be the Christ, not by something new, but by fulfilling the Scriptures regarding the circumstances of his birth, his nature, and his miracles. He also proclaimed the oldest spiritual message of all, revealed throughout time: Repent and believe the good news of a Savior. The events recounted here are part of this message. Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem for Passover, the festival that both looked back to the lamb’s blood preserving the believers of Israel as the messenger of death passed over their homes, and looked forward to the Lamb of God who would take away the world’s sins.
Jesus was such a good and dependable boy that they assumed he was with them in their group, but they missed what Jesus knew. 49He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be taking care of my Father’s business?” He was the Christ, the one chosen, and already He followed the ancient word that He fulfilled. He had fulfilled it in His being born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit. He had fulfilled it in His righteous life, and He now fulfilled it by His mastery of the very word that manifested Him as the Christ, the Messiah.
II. He Is Righteous for Us
While the first thing we see is that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise down through the ages, the Messiah, the second thing we see is His righteousness, again just as Jeremiah prophesied, “Listen, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, who will reign wisely as king and establish justice and righteousness on earth. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell securely. This is his name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:5–6, EHV)
This descendant of David showed his righteousness in the trust His parents placed in Him, in His study of Scripture, in His commitment to the Faither’s business of raising up the Savior, in honoring and obeying His parents, and in the widespread recognition that righteousness as … 52Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. So how do the events of those few days between Nazareth and Jerusalem affect us today? First, Jesus is manifest here as your Savior. By this inspired Word, God the Holy Spirit assures you that His promises are fulfilled.
Next, we see the righteousness of Christ, and Jesus is your righteousness, the righteousness that reconciles you to God. The day will come when all of us will stand before the Lord, and what we see here is the righteousness that we need. As Jesus was pleasing to God (and man), so those with His righteousness are pleasing to God. God sees the things that you do out of love for Him as covered by that same righteousness.
Yes, God approves of you, and you are pleasing to Him. What joy and confidence this brings to us. We were born helpless in our cold, dead, sinful nature, and the One who here is already our righteousness gives us hope, life, and salvation.