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My Father’s House

August 6 2023

Book: Luke

This morning, we begin a long series on the Gospel of Luke – a Gospel that shows us the heart of God by showing us a portrait of Jesus that is up-close and personal. 35% of the stories and parables told by Luke are unique and they show us a Jesus full of compassion. They show us a God of love.

If not for Luke, we wouldn’t know the story of the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son. We wouldn’t know about the woman who cleaned the feet of Jesus with her tears or the story of little Zaccheus. We wouldn’t know about the resurrection of the widow’s son or see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.

I’m excited to begin this Gospel because I’ve never preached through it before. So, let’s begin:

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,

2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,

3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Notice how Luke describes his Gospel. He calls it a narrative – a collection of stories from the life of Jesus. He says they are collected from eyewitnesses. He calls it an orderly account. And he explicitly states his purpose. “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

Luke is different because his audience was different. Luke wrote his Gospel explicitly to convince other Gentiles that Jesus was the Son of God. Luke himself was probably a Greek convert. He was a second-generation Christian writing to other second-generation Christians – and apparently one man in particular.

We get to listen in as Luke defends the Gospel to one man struggling with doubt. And maybe that’s you this morning. You’ve been taught the Gospel, but you have doubts. Luke offers you certainty in the things you have been taught.

Stick with us to the end – and I promise it will be worth it.

Now, we are going to skip ahead just a bit – because I’m going to save the birth of Jesus for Christmas. We’re skipping to the end of chapter 2, beginning with verse 41. This is the first real picture of Jesus – what He was like. And Luke is the only Gospel that tells us about this event.

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

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.

43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it,

44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances,

45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.

This sounds a bit like the movie Home Alone. How did they make it a whole day without noticing that Jesus was missing?!

Imagine the anxiety his parents must have been feeling – not just that they’ve lost their 12-year-old son. They think they’ve lost the child of promise – the Savior of mankind.

Of course, when you stop to think about it, their faith should have eliminated that anxiety. How could the Savior be lost? He was not lost. They were lost. And that’s the point of the story. We’ll come back to it.

But where was Jesus? Let’s find out.

46 After three days (that’s a really long time) they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Notice that Jesus (12 years old) already has better answers to his own questions than the teachers in the temple – the best of the best!

48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

We understand Mary’s question, don’t we? With any other 12-year-old, her question is completely justified! And we understand their distress. Losing your child in a city was dangerous, even then.

But Luke tells us this story to help us understand – Jesus was something more than a normal 12-year-old. And this is where I need to confess something.

When I read this story, I’m tempted to think of Jesus as a precocious smarty-pants, like young Sheldon or Doogie Howser – embarrassing the adults around him with his intelligence.

But that’s not who we are supposed to see. We read it that way with our cultural bias.

This week everyone is headed back to school, so think of it like this. Jesus was at or near his coming of age. He was nearing the end of his formal education as a child. The only textbook they had was the Old Testament, and they learned it by repeating and memorizing the words of their teacher.

Very few children actually learned to read. Most boys this age were busy learning a trade and preparing for adult life. They were anxious to finish religious training. But not Jesus.

Jesus was completely saturated with the Word of God. That’s the first thing Luke wants us to learn about Jesus. He loved the Word of God.

This was not a boy who loved to embarrass adults with his knowledge. This was a young man who loved the Word of God – loved talking about it. Loved thinking about it.

And Luke tells us why. Look at how Jesus responds to Mary.

49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

Why don’t they understand? Because they don’t know the Word of God as well as Jesus.

Having said that, I’m certain that Joseph and Mary knew the Bible. I’m certain they were committed to the Lord and that they were committed to teaching their children His Word.

But Jesus refers to the temple of Yahweh as “my Father’s house” and this shocked and confused everyone. Why? David Gooding explains it this way:

“In all the long biblical record, not even Moses who had built the tabernacle, not David who longed to build the temple, nor Solomon who had actually built it, no prophet, no king or commoner, not the most exalted of them, had ever referred to the tabernacle or temple as ‘my Father’s house.’”

Remember, the temple was a place where the Most Holy God demanded that his people bring animal sacrifices. It was a bloody place. A sacred place. And at the deepest part of the temple was a room that no one could enter except once a year and only then by the High Priest, likely terrified to get something wrong and die.

And here a boy from a small town, with an unusual knowledge of the Bible, casually refers to the temple as “my Father’s house.”

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

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

Notice what Luke doesn’t say. He doesn’t say Jesus went “home”. It says he went to Nazareth, but Nazareth was not “home”.

Home for Jesus was with the Father. What this story teaches us, most importantly, is that Jesus understood – from a very young age – that He had a special relationship with God that no one else on earth had ever conceived of… a relationship that no one dreamed was possible.

It was not something Jesus learned that day. It was something He assumed. It was something He took for granted. He just knew it in his bones – this is my Father’s house.

The only thing that seems to surprise Jesus in the story is the fact that Mary and Joseph did not know this. And what does that tell us?

Jesus was not the one lost in this story. His parents were lost. The teachers were lost. The entire world was lost.

In fact, this is one of the most important themes in the Gospel of Luke. We are lost without Jesus. This is exactly how Jesus will describe His own mission in Luke 19 – the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Already, at age 12, Jesus began to realize that the people around him were completely lost. He had an experience of God that they did not have. He knows God as Father and they do not.

But they should have. Even though no one in the Bible referred to God as a Father before Jesus, God described Himself as a father many times in the prophets. And in each of those cases, God highlights His work of redemption – His promise to lift His people out of sin and death.

Already, Jesus begins to connect these dots. Already, he begins to understand His purpose. Jesus knows He has a special relationship with the Father, and He wants us to experience that kind of relationship with God.

And there are little hints throughout this story – already Luke begins to show us how Jesus did it. How is it possible for us to experience God as our Father?

We see it in the submissive nature of Jesus. Just as Jesus willingly followed Joseph and Mary back to Nazareth, obeying his earthly parents completely, Jesus will later submit fully to the will of His Father in heaven.

We see it in the final words of the story – that Jesus grew in favor with both God and man. It’s an important theme in the Gospel that Jesus was fully God and fully man. That’s the only way Jesus could accomplish His mission.

But the most powerful glimmer of hope we see in this story is really a minor detail. Luke is a master of detail. He shares things that others might have missed. How many days did Luke say Jesus was missing, but not really missing? Three days.

And how many days did Jesus spend in the tomb? Three days. For three days, his disciples would suffer distress, believing that Jesus was lost – that the mission was lost. But if they knew the Word – if they had paid closer attention – they wouldn’t have been worried at all.

Luke 2:49 gives us the first recorded words of Jesus in the Bible. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 23:46 gives us the last words of Jesus on the cross. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

From beginning to end, Jesus was completely devoted to His Father. And His death and resurrection made it possible for God to become our Father too. Jesus was never lost. We were.

And so, we see the heart of God, even now in 12-year-old Jesus. Already, he is concerned for us – that we don’t know what it feels like to be certain that we have a Father in heaven who loves us.

Do you know that this morning? Do you know for certain that you have a Father in heaven who loves you? I do. I know it for certain. I sometimes forget, but then I hear the Gospel and again I’m reminded.

Humans did not write this story. God did. And He’s offering you – today – the opportunity to know Him as your Father and to know this as your Father’s house, with certainty.