Lost and Found
Topic: Biblical Verse: Luke 2:41–2:52
The Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2021
“Lost and Found”
Like many places, our church office has a “lost and found” basket that contains items that have been left behind here at church. With far fewer people around church over this past year due to COVID-19, there haven’t been as many things that have been turned in. But you can probably guess what some of those items are: eyeglasses, children’s toys and books, umbrellas, coats, even cell phones. Sometimes people have walked off wearing someone else’s coat only to realize later on that they have the wrong coat. Of course, it’s the missing cell phones that always generate the most urgent calls and emails. Why? Because our entire life is wrapped up in that missing cell phone! When something is lost, we want to know where it is, especially if it’s something as valuable as a cell phone. So how about when a child goes missing? That is a parent’s nightmare for sure. When my own girls were little, we were at an amusement park with extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – where we had spent the day riding the rides and having a good old time. As the afternoon went by, kids were getting worn out and we knew it was time to head home. We made a stop at the restroom before going on to the cars in the parking lot. It was when we started getting kids all loaded up into the van that we realized one child was missing. She wasn’t with any of the other family members, and that’s when panic sets in. My wife and I ran as fast as we could back into the park and started frantically looking for our missing child, starting with where we were last: the restrooms. And that’s where we found that missing child: just coming out of the stall in the restroom where she had been all along, blissfully unaware of everything that had just happened. If you have ever had a situation like this in your own life, you know how you are so incredibly thankful for finding that lost child. Nothing else really matters except that you are reunited with that missing child. On this first Sunday in the New Year, we hear about such a situation in today’s Gospel lesson with the boy Jesus who went missing and was found by his parents in the temple. This becomes the theme for preaching today under the theme, “Lost and Found.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.
Luke alone, of all the Gospel writers, records this account. It is the last incident we hear about Jesus’ growing up years until he emerges years later as an adult going to the Jordan River to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21-22). We have many questions about Jesus in his growing up years, but Scripture is silent about these, except for this one incident when he was twelve years old. According to Jewish tradition, a twelve-year-old boy was on the verge of being accepted into the adult religious community and was considered responsible for the vows that he would make. It needs to be pointed out that Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem after the Passover celebration by his own choice, not because of his parents’ neglect. It was safer to travel as a group vs. individually, and so it is understandable that Mary and Joseph were not overly concerned about the whereabouts of their son when they did not immediately know where he was. They assumed that he was with other people who were traveling with them. But Jesus was in his Father’s house back in Jerusalem.We are told that this lost-and-found incident went on for days. We can only imagine how absolutely frantic Mary and Joseph must have been.
From what we read here in Scripture, the boy Jesus was oblivious to all this frantic fuss about his whereabouts. We can well imagine that mixed bag of emotions that his earthly parents had: relief, joy, thankfulness, as well as anger. This is reflected in Mary’s words to her Son: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress” (Luke 2:48b). And then Jesus’ words put all of this into perspective: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what their Son was saying to them. We would not have understood, either, if we had been there. Jesus’ great love for his Father’s house would be shown again years later when he returned to Jerusalem after he entered the city on that first Palm Sunday amidst waving of palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). Jesus would then re-enter his father’s house and drive out the moneychangers, telling them: It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13; see Isaiah 56:7). Jesus’ active obedience to his Father’s will for him – fulfilling all that his heavenly Father would have him do in his earthly life and ministry – is shown already here in this lost-and-found account in today’s Gospel: “And he [Jesus] went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them” (Luke 2:51a). Beginning at home with his own parents, Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
The final verse in today’s Gospel lesson is a connecting point with the other Scripture lessons appointed for this day: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Wisdom is what we hear about in the Old Testament lesson as Solomon asks for wisdom for himself to govern as king (1 Kings 3:4-15). He does not seek long life, riches, or the life of his enemies, but “a wise and discerning mind” (1 Kings 3:12). Even today, thousands of years later, we still speak of the wisdom of Solomon. In the psalm which we read together (Psalm 119:97-104), we read: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me” (Psalm 119:97-98). And in the Epistle lesson, Paul the apostle writes: “In him [Christ Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
If we want to be wise – which is different than being intelligent or smart – then let us look to Jesus at the beginning of this new year. Wisdom is that God-given direction and guidance for right living that flows out of all that God in Christ has done for us. It is in Christ Jesus that we who were ourselves lost, have been found. “For we were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls” (1 Peter 2:25). That is good news of great joy for us to carry into each day of this new year. Thanks be to God. Amen.