Note: This series is based on the book Not a Silent Night: Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem, by the Rev. Adam Hamilton.
This Sunday, we continue our Advent series focusing on Jesus through the eyes of Mary, his mother. This week’s focus is on Jesus as a child, and – though there were some stories told in the 2nd and 3rd centuries – this is the only story we have in our Bibles about Jesus’ childhood. What was it like for Mary to raise Jesus? What was it like for her to teach him and lead him? I imagine that this story is not the only time she was amazed, not the only time she was astounded, not the only time she was astonished.
Luke 2:41-51 (CEB)
41Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. 43After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. 44Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. 45When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. 47Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him, they were shocked.
His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!”
49Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50But they didn’t understand what he said to them.
51Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart.
Consider these questions:
- This story of Jesus’ youth includes traveling. Have you ever travelled with children or parents or family? What was it like? Were family dynamics enhanced, confirmed, discovered?
- Jesus was separated from his family. Many families have stories of someone getting lost in stores or crowds. What is your (or your family’s) story?
- As it turns out, Jesus was exactly where he thought he should be. When have you been in the place where you knew you should be and others were surprised?
Post-Sermon Update on 12/19
As of this edit, the audio/video of this sermon has not yet been posted. We’re working on it and hope you’ll check back in the coming days.
Sunday’s message was – in many ways – a re-hash of something I’ve been saying for a long time. Does Jesus matter? To you, specifically, as an individual. Ask yourself that question. Does Jesus matter? To you??
Jesus teaching in the temple made a clear difference to those who were there to hear. People were amazed in that blown-away take-a-step-back kind of way. People were astonished in that you-gotta-hear-about-this kind of way. People were astounded in that paradigm-shift kind of way.
Does Jesus still amaze, astonish, and astound in this way for us today? I think Jesus can be transformative for us and for the world right here and right now!
But here’s the thing. We have to allow ourselves to be transformed. We have to allow our world to be rocked. We have to allow the paradigm-shifting mind-blowing radically transformational Jesus past our walls of fear and defensiveness so that we can be truly transformed.
Because if we don’t do that, if we aren’t willing to do that, then we have to ask this question: does Jesus really matter?
Consider these questions:
- When did you first have a sense that Jesus could make a difference for you personally? Was it a give-your-heart-to-Jesus kind of moment? Was it a still-small-voice experience? Something else? Nothing?
- If you had some kind of experience like this, how did it change you? How did it change your life of faith? If you have not had some kind of experience like this, what brings you to church or this website? What are you searching for? And how can you be helped?