Sermon 92




Know Jesus

Luke 2.49


December 30, 2018


Grace and peace to you, in the name of God the Father, Son (+) and Holy Spirit. Amen.

       At Christmas we hear the herald of glad tidings that the Savior’s born. And we rightly sing out with joy. Jubilation! Exaltation! And we have twelve days in the Christmas season to do just that. But is there anything else to Christmas besides joy?

       Well, yes there is. There is the twelve year old Jesus – lost in the temple, on the first Sunday in the season of Christmas. And it’s a jarring episode. For three days Jesus is lost – separated from his parents. They’re in a panic. When they finally find him though, he doesn’t greet them very fondly. There’s no – “Mommy! Daddy! I thought you were dead! I’ve been so afraid! I’ve been crying for days.” No, instead he sternly upbraids them, saying – “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2.49). Well, that’s a fine how-do-you-do, isn’t it? But, how could it be? How could they not have known? Mary and Joseph had cared for him for twelve years. Think about it. Surely they would have picked that up along the way at some time or other. Were they brain-dead? So there’s more to Christmas than joy. Today we learn that it also includes knowing something about Jesus.


Don’t Be Like Mary & Joseph

So, how are you doing? What do you know about Jesus? Are you ignorant like Mary and Joseph were? How long have you believed in Jesus? Twelve years or more? Maybe. And how much do you know about him? Well, you know the big stuff that he’s the Savior. You know that he is the Son of the Most High God (Luke 1.32). But what else do you know? Is there anything else worth knowing about him that you’ve missed along the way?

       Luke 4.8. How about this verse? Did you know that Jesus said we are to serve only God? Isn’t that amazing? What about the poor? Well, I guess we are to serve God first and everyone else later (Matthew 6.33), because God matters more than everyone else! Did you know that about our savior? What do you think of that? Does that upset you? Does it make helping the local food bank look like chopped liver because it isn’t of first importance?

       Luke 4.24. Or how about this one about dumping on insiders. That’s what it says, you know, when Jesus goes on about prophets being accepted everywhere except in their own country. He’s taking a swipe at insiders – the Jews, and by extension, us, the church folk. We think we’re privileged – but, in fact, we’re jaded, lukewarm people (Revelation 3.16). We don’t have our hearts in it. Now if that isn’t damning of us, I don’t know what would be!

       Luke 5.10. Then there is this verse about catching people like fish, to make them believers. Can you go along with that? No convincing here. No cajoling either. Just hooking and yanking. Wow!

       Luke 5.31. Or this one about not liking healthy people. What an offense! Jesus says he only comes for the sick because they know their need for a doctor. Everybody else is fat and happy (Revelation 3.17) – and left out! How chilling – to say the least.

       Luke 6.23. So is this one about leaping for joy when you’re hated for following Jesus. Can you believe that one too? Sounds like a sociopath. Can’t we allow for hurt feelings? No, never!

       Luke 6.26. And then there’s this one about a good reputation. Jesus dumps on that. Beware of those who only get praise. They don’t push anyone. They’re afraid of offending people. They know nothing of the disrupting need for new wineskins (Luke 5.38)!

       Luke 6.36. Another offensive one is being merciful in the same way that God is. “But they don’t deserve my mercy! They’re jerks.” Well, as far as God is concerned, so are you! So wake up.

       Luke 7.23. And look at this one. Jesus isn’t dumb – he knows he’s offensive so he warns us ahead of time not to be offended by him and what he says. So we can’t say we weren’t told. He knows we’ll look for excuses, so he stops that, for all time, in its tracks.

       Luke 8.14. And then look what he does in this verse. He pretty much puts the kibosh on fun and games (Ephesians 5.4). Pleasures, he warns, choked the Word of God in you. Talk about a kill joy! Are you sure you want to believe in him? “Epicureans need not apply.” So Christian joy is always mixed with sorrow (2 Corinthians 6.10) and based on Christ’s mercy alone (Philippians 4.4).

       Luke 8.21. Then there’s his attack on blood ties. He says our only family is those who obey God – but all those born into our families are not. Better not invite him to your birthday parties!

       Luke 9.23. Finally he takes all of us on – squarely. Can you stomach it? Deny yourselves, he roars. But what about self-fulfillment? What about the pursuit of happiness? Go fish, I guess.

       Luke 9.58. Then there’s this real estate verse – Jesus didn’t have a house! Think of all the time we spend on our homes and the money we sink into our investment, as we say. But think again! Heaven is your home (Philippians 3.20). So grow up into salvation (1 Peter 2.2)! So much for treasures on earth (Matthew 6.19).

       Luke 9.62. Then there’s this attack on caution, hesitation and reasonableness. Ready for that? Jesus sounds like a drunken fool – don’t look back once you’ve started plowing. Why not? Shouldn’t we make sure we’re going down the right path? No double-checking? That’s right – since it’s only a dodge to get out of work!

       Luke 10.3. Then there’s this – no one to guard you! You’ll be like lambs among wolves. You’ve got to be kidding? Shouldn’t we be like lions among wolves? No! Christians win by losing (2 Corinthians 12.9) – not by blasting away everyone (Luke 9.54).

       Luke 10.16. And don’t fire your preachers! But what if they deserve it? Jesus says if you throw out my preachers, you kick him out too – and then you’ll have hell to pay (John 3.36). So much for the favorite indoor sport of churches – chewing up pastors.

       Luke 10.22. Then there’s this block on thinking your way to God. Jesus says no one can find God unless he leads us to him. So the Bible and prayer stand above thinking things out on our own.

       Luke 12.5. And what do you think about fearing God? Jesus says it has nothing to do with civil respect and a day dreaming sort of wonderment and awe. No, it’s about being threatened with hell. And he adds to it that this fear is worse than dreading murder.

       Luke 12.15. And did you know that Jesus attacked capitalism – standing against buying more and more to keep our businesses booming and our land prosperous? Well, he did – life does not consist in how much stuff we have. And that was his final answer.

       Luke 13.3. And did you also know how much he expects from each of us? We have to repent, say we’re sorry, confess our sins and feel ashamed of our mistakes. If you don’t do that, he’ll kill you – no ands, ifs or buts. “Repent or perish” should be our motto!

       Luke 14.26. Then there is this – hate yourself or you can’t be my disciple. Did you know Jesus said that? Do you actually do that? Do you hate yourself so that you can follow Jesus? Or does it make you so mad that you wish you had never heard of him?

       Luke 16.16. How about this one – the only way to God is through violence! What’s that like? It sounds horrible. Well, violence to your self-esteem, pride and self-reliance – that’s for sure.

       Luke 17.10. This one goes with it. We shouldn’t look to be thanked for following God. It’s our duty; and we’re worthless!

       Luke 18.9. In this verse Jesus goes after trusting in yourself. Here’s another kick in the gut. How bruised up are you getting?

       Luke 22.38. This one goes with Luke 12.51 about not bringing peace on earth. What kind of a prince of peace is this?

       Luke 24.25. Finally Jesus says you have no time to size up all of this. Only fools are slow to believe – because they miss out.

     An amazing assortment of verses, wouldn’t you say? No wonder we’re told to supplement our faith with knowledge (1 Peter 1.5) – otherwise we’d never do it! And have you done that? Have you absorbed all of these verses? Is God’s word dwelling in you richly (Colossians 3.16)? Know full well that we have “enough to study for all eternity” in this Word (Luther’s Works 75.422). So be sure not to get fed up and sickened by the word – nausiamus verbum (LW 17.178)! No, may it instead be your joy and strength!


Jesus is Two Fisted

But you don’t have to force yourself to find joy in these tough verses. Jesus is here to help – to lift you up (Luke 2.34, 2 Corinthians 2.15). But, by the same token, in the same verses, if you despise him and his words, he’ll knock you down. So know that Christ gives rest to the weary (Matthew 11:28) – but also is unforgiving against those who won’t bless his name (Matthew 23.39). Remember, after all, that his saving death on the cross wasn’t offered to both thieves (Luke 23.43) – the mouthy one was left high and dry, and not welcomed into heaven. And the same with the Holy Supper here for us today – the unbelieving and unrepentant can receive it, but only as destruction (1 Corinthians 11.30).


Be Joyous

But it all ends in joy. We are there with the disciples continually blessing God in the temple with great joy (Luke 24.52–53). Note that this is in the Temple – where the word is. So this is no joy based on earthly delights at all. No, Luther was right – and may we also be – that there is “no real joy in this world except that which the Word brings when it is believed” (LW 4.4). Amen.


 (printed as preached but with a few changes)