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Discipleship

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St. John 1:43-51

“DISCIPLESHIP.”  That’s the theme.    When Jesus says: “Follow me,” He’s calls you to be His disciple.  The first disciples He calls are Philip and Nathaniel.


Now, let’s observe four distinct things from the text regarding discipleship.  This is going to put your old Adam to death.  But at the same time it will mind-blowing-ly strengthen your faith in Jesus all the more!  Are you ready?  Good.  Let’s get started.

  1. Jesus seeks — Jesus finds the disciple; the disciple does not seek or find Jesus!
  2.  Disciples make disciples.
  3. Jesus knows the disciple before the disciple knows Jesus.
  4. The disciple is given to know the secrets of God’s kingdom reign in Jesus.

First, and this is absolutely huge!  Jesus SEEKS and Jesus FINDS the disciple!  The disciple does not seek or find Jesus! It may seem that way to the disciple.  From the disciple’s point of view.   You may think that you decided to follow Jesus, that you chose Jesus, that you made a decision or choice to be a disciple of Jesus. It may feel that way to you, but that’s not the way it is. According to the text, Jesus seeks – Jesus finds the disciple. Jesus went after, looked for and found Philip. Philip later says to his brother, “We have found the Messiah,” but in reality the Messiah found him.

Philip wasn’t looking for a Christ or a Lord when Jesus sought and found Philip. Why Philip? We don’t know. Jesus doesn’t say. Philip was a Greek from Bethsaida. Jesus’ circle of disciples was a mixed bag of fishermen, a tax agent, and an insurgent. Andrew, Peter, James and John were the trawlers.  Simon the Zealot was extremely serious about his faith and was the revolutionary. Matthew was the tax agent, an IRS man, for the hated and despised Roman government. You can imagine the conversations they must have had. Jesus picked all sorts of people to be His disciples. But the important thing to remember is that Jesus chose them! He reminded them of this, lest they started to think that they were running the show, “You did not chose me, but I chose you,” Jesus said (John 15:16)!  

Jesus finds Philip. Jesus was looking for him. This is not some random occurrence like: “Hey!  You over there! What’s your name?” Jesus knows for whom He is looking. And when He finds Philip, He speaks the disciple making words to Him. “Follow me.”

A disciple, then, is a follower.  A disciple is a person who follows a teacher. But Jesus’ words are not ordinary words. They are divine, creative, powerful words that do and give what they say. “Follow me” are not marching orders but a creative divine mandate, like “Let there be light” or “Be fruitful and multiply.” The Word does and gives what it says. “Follow me,” the Word made flesh says. And the Word’s word heard is lively and active. Philip follows.

Our problem is that the old Adam likes to take credit for things. Instead of singing, “I have been given to follow Jesus,” the old Adam sings, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” That turns praise into boasting. It puts faith’s cart in front of the divine horse. There is no hearing or following unless Jesus speaks first. There is no disciple unless the disciple making words are first heard. There is no faith without the Word preached and heard, no forgiveness without the Word, no holiness, no discipleship, apart from the discipling Word of Jesus. “Follow me.”

I’m here to tell you that you didn’t seek and find Jesus. He sought and found you. Some of you, He found when you were little babies, where the words “follow me” were poured on you in your baptism. Others of you He found later in life, perhaps as a teenager, an adult or a senior citizen but He found you nonetheless. When you were least looking for Him or not looking for Him at all!  But it’s Jesus who does the finding!  And thanks be to God that He came to seek and find the lost like you and me or we would be lost forever! Jesus decided to go to Galilee. Jesus found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Jesus runs the disciple making verbs, not the disciple. Jesus initiates. The disciple follows. Philip follows.

Second, the disciple seeks out disciples. Philip finds his brother Nathaniel. God always works through means, whether to supply our daily bread or to bring salvation to a person. Jesus makes disciples through disciples. He said to His disciples, “Make disciples of all nations.” He told them how to do it: Baptize in the divine and saving Triune Name and teach everything I taught you. And Jesus promised that He would be with them always in this disciple making endeavor until the end of the age.

Disciples make disciples. That is the mission of the church. We don’t need to be in the dark about that or confused in any way. Make disciples. Make followers of the Lord Jesus by baptizing and teaching them. And in this baptizing and teaching, Jesus is at work doing the disciple making.

Making disciples. This is the proper work and business of the church!  Jesus uses the church to seek the unbaptized and bring them to Baptism. He uses the church to seek the untaught and teach them everything that He has taught us. Jesus promises to be in the middle of all of it. “Lo I am with you!” 

There are really two works of the church: to worship and to make worshipers. To worship is TO RECEIVE, TO BE GIVEN the Good Friday gifts of Christ for one’s faith, life, and salvation. In worship we receive all the Jesus died to win for us and the world by the hearing of His Word and the eating and drinking of the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. But the work of the church, which is God’s work, doesn’t stop there. The church gathered worships. The church scattered makes disciples. Christ doesn’t keep His church huddled up into a locked, gated community like elite D.C. politicians, world leaders and big tech tycoons. He scatters His church with His blessing to be a blessing in the world. Out there. Next to the neighbor. The friend. The classmate. The coworker. The brother. The spouse.  The child.  The grandchild. 

Philip found his brother Nathaniel and told him about Jesus. Nathaniel is skeptical. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was a no-name hick town that didn’t even exist in the OT. Like Murdock.  Can hardly find it on the map.  How could the Messiah spoken of by Moses and the prophets come from a place in the boon docks like Nazareth? Philip doesn’t argue.  Instead, he just invites Nathaniel the skeptic: “Come and see.” You want an evangelism strategy here at Trinity, Murdock?  There it is!  Just simply invite the people you know to come and see Jesus in the divine service where He speaks His Word of forgiveness and serves us with His Good Friday Body and Blood! To bring people to Jesus is to bring them to His church, His body. Come and see!

Jesus sees Nathaniel coming to Him and has a little tongue in cheek fun with Him. “Hey, would you look at that! An Israelite in whom there is no deceit. An honest Israelite!” (Can you just imagine the smirk on Jesus’ face?)

“How do you know me,” Nathaniel asks?  “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Two things here. Don’t assume that Jesus hasn’t shown up until you did. That’s a big relief and should take a burden off your shoulders. Before Philip even found Nathaniel, Jesus had already found Him! Jesus  always comes first. Before you can decide for Jesus — He decides FOR YOU. Before you can choose, you must be chosen by Him! Little Samuel in the tabernacle was called by God to be a prophet before Samuel even knew the Lord. Jesus knew Nathaniel before Nathaniel knew Jesus. He knew you too. From before the foundation of the world! He knew you then and you were known in Him. You see, no matter what you do in the direction of God, God is always there ahead of you. Before you pray, God is there creating faith, because there is no prayer apart from faith. Before you knew Jesus, He knew you, as He knew Nathaniel, in all his skeptical, snippety, stuffy, snarkiness!

Nathaniel is impressed. Flabbergasted. “Rabbi, you’re the Son of God! You’re the King of Israel!” How Nathaniel got there from a little remark about seeing him under a fig tree is beyond me. But then, so is faith itself. We believe that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ our Lord or come to Him. Faith isn’t our doing. It’s God’s doing. Nathaniel believes and confesses not because he’s so smart but because God is so gracious and merciful.

And Jesus says, in so many words, “Nathaniel, my disciple follower friend. If you think that’s impressive, well, you haven’t seen anything yet. I’m here to tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Jesus was referring to the vision of Jacob in the Old Testament which he called the gate of heaven. If Nathaniel was impressed at being known before he had known Jesus, then this was just the tip of the iceberg. A little glimpse of the glory that was coming.  Namely, that in the Person and Work of Jesus the Gate of Heaven is here!  In Gate of Heaven Jesus God has come down to earth, taking on flesh, and will die on the cross to save sinners.  This is the mystery of God’s kingdom.  God’s reign.  It’s what all the prophets and the angels longed to see

As a disciple of Jesus, you too are privileged to know the very mysteries of the kingdom. You know the King. You have been given to live under Him in His kingdom because He Good Friday-ly died FOR YOU. He gave you His saving name in baptism. Every week He gives you His Body and Blood, His forgiveness, life, salvation. You have been given to confess with Nathaniel that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. You too see heaven open in the divine service.  In the Lord’s Supper Jesus is here with all the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.  Soon, you will see heaven opened a final time as the angels ascend and descend on Christ when He appears in glory to raise you from the dead as He is risen from the dead and give you the life that is yours in Him.

To be a disciple is to hear Jesus say to you, “Follow me.” It is living in and from your baptism.  Which is to say:  to follow Jesus is to daily die to sin and all evil desires so that the new man spelled F-A-I-T-H emerges and arise each day living by faith in Messiah Savior Jesus.  Living in and from your baptism is to know that before you found Christ, He had already found you. Before you knew Christ, He had already known you. Before you chose to follow Him, He had already chosen you when He said, “Follow me.”

Happy being a disciple of Jesus.  Happy following Him!   

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke’s Gospel: More Characteristics

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Jesus’ Jordan River Baptism All To Save You!

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St. Mark 1:4-11

Well.  There He is.  He stands in the water of the Jordan River. Shoulder to shoulder with the people who came to John confessing their sins to be baptized by him. There He is. God in the Flesh! He comes to receive a sinner’s baptism, a baptism for repentance into the forgiveness of sin.

This is the beginning of His PUBLIC ministry. He gives you a peek of who He is!  The Spirit and the Father testify to Him. Here, in the Jordan River water of John’s baptism, the Father reveals Jesus to be the Servant-Son of God. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Here in the river the spotless Lamb of God stands shoulder to shoulder with sinners – with adulterous prostitutes and crooked tax collectors and all of sinful humanity.

What a day this is! Christmas joy becomes baptismal joy! We move quickly from His birth to His baptism! And rejoice we do because Jesus is baptized in the Jordan in order TO SAVE US!

We won’t fully apprehend what Jesus’ baptism means until we understand the place of the Jordan River in the history of Israel. The Jordan was the borderline between the wilderness and the promised land. You remember that Moses was not permitted to cross the Jordan. Moses and the Law cannot bring you to the Promised Land. They can only bring you to the edge of the wilderness, the threshold. Joshua was the one who lead the people across the parted Jordan into the land God promised them. God had Joshua mark the place with twelve stones as a memorial so the people would never forget that they entered the Promised Land through the water of the Jordan.

Joshua, by the way, is the name Y’shua, Jesus. No coincidence there. As Jesus stands in the Jordan, He stands as the new Joshua.  He now leads the world to the promised land of eternal life through the Jordan River.

The waters of the Jordan parted again for the prophets Elijah and Elisha when Elijah ascended into heaven in a fiery chariot. Again in the water of the Jordan we have a picture of Jesus being lifted up in glory, drawing all men to Himself, opening heaven to earth.

The waters of the Jordan brought healing to Naaman the Syrian enemy of Israel. You’ll recall that Naaman was healed of his leprosy by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan at the command of Elisha. And here we have a picture of Christ’s universal reign of salvation, that His healing of the leprosy of sin and death extends over the whole world, even His enemies!

Oh, what a day it is! God in the Flesh is baptized! Humanity is cleansed, reborn, restored. The new Adam, the new head of humanity is baptized for the world, and in Him the whole world is covered over in a gracious Flood. As God once baptized the earth in the Flood, and promised with the rainbow never to destroy the earth with water again, so here God immerses the whole world in the Person of His Son. Jesus is the world reduced to one Man. The new and second Adam whose headship means life for the world. When Jesus was baptized, the world was baptized in Him.

This day demands that we unpack Baptism even more. We can push it further.   When Jesus receives Baptism in the Jordan it recalls Genesis 1 that we heard earlier this morning.  When Jesus is baptized in the river water it also reveals that in Christ, a new creation has come. Just as the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters of the old creation in the beginning, when the Word created everything at the Father’s speaking, so the Holy Spirit now swoops down over the waters of the Jordan where the Word made Flesh is baptized. The Word that created all things now makes all things new. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold the old has gone, the new has come.”

This is really good news for us.  After all, many of us seek fresh starts or  new beginnings in life. For some it is a move to a new community looking for a new lease on life. Some change jobs, homes, even spouses looking to start over. Every new year brings resolutions. A new start, a new beginning. We’re going to be better, thinner, smarter, happier, whatever.

But it always ends the way it begins. The new job is no better than the old. The new marriage no more satisfying than the one you left. The new year more or less like last year. The drive for a fresh start and a new beginning is the drive to be reborn, created again. And it’s something we can’t engineer for ourselves. Our new birth, our new creation is in Christ. He is our fresh start, our new beginning. He is the new person we want to be! And in Jesus we are everything God intended us to be. In Christ you too are virgin-born. Not by your choice or decision, but by God’s will. You are born in Christ to live as a new creature – spelled F-A-I-T-H!  A faith-er!  Trust-er! 

Holy Baptism that Jesus instituted in Matthew 28 is a cleansing, a washing of water with the Word that gives you God’s divine and saving Name. In Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan, the Word made flesh  is washed with water for the world’s cleansing. Jesus had no need of repentance. Nor did he have any sins to confess. But He was baptized for the world’s cleansing, that in Him we might be washed from our sins, that by His blood shed on the cross, our sin would be washed away as far as the east is from the west. The Spotless One was washed in Jordan’s water so that in Him we might be spotless.

Again we are driven. Driven to wash away the filth of our lives. We wash religiously. At least one shower per day.  We scour our hands with hand sanitizer like there’s no tomorrow.  But no amount of scrubbing can reach the depths of our sin. We can clean the surface, but we can’t cleanse the person. We can change our habits, but we can’t change the person.   Who does?  Jesus can and Jesus does.

He is washed for the world and in Him the world is washed. Christ is your cleansing.  Your purification. He takes up your sin and gives you His perfect, unblemished righteousness. He takes off your filthy clothes, covered with dirt – the dirt you’ve put on yourself, the dirt others have put on you. He takes off those filthy rags and covers you with the spotless robe of His righteousness. In Him (and only in Him) are you spotless and perfect.

It’s a sweet swap!  A blessed exchange!  Jesus swaps our sin and death for His righteousness and life. His Baptism in the Jordan makes this exchange known and visible. He willingly submits to a sinner’s baptism in order to save sinners. He voluntarily takes a bath in the world’s sin, He immerses Himself in the bitter water of our death, and makes it sweet with His presence. How was Naaman the Syrian cleansed of his leprosy by Jordan river water? Christ did it. How did the water of the Jordan part before Joshua? Christ did it. And now in His baptism, Christ is revealed to the world, made known and visible. We see His face. We know His name. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, the son of Mary is God’s Son, the eternal Word. And He shows that He stands with us. We don’t have to become like Him to be saved. He becomes like us to save us.

Baptism as instituted by Jesus in Matthew 28 is a sacrament of death and resurrection. In baptism you are buried under the water, and you rise up from the water. Jesus’ baptism points directly to the cross and His death and resurrection. Mark signals that by saying the heavens were literally torn open, ripped in two. It’s the very same word he uses for the curtain in the temple that was torn from top to bottom at Jesus’ crucifixion. Heaven is opened violently, not peacefully. It is laid hold of by violence, as any OT Jew could tell you. He witnessed the bloody sacrifices of the temple. The throat of the animal slit, the blood poured out. Peace with God comes with violence and blood. Heaven is opened by the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Heaven is entered by the narrow road of dying and rising. Jesus calls His own bloody death a baptism which He must undergo. In His death His baptism is completed: “It is finished.” The Spirit that came upon Jesus at His Baptism is dismissed in His death. His work of salvation is done.

Christ died for all, and therefore all died, said St. Paul. His Baptism shows this, that in His dying and rising, heaven stands open to earth, the kingdom of heaven is opened, God is reconciled, at peace, with the world in the death of Jesus. Through the violence of the cross comes peace, life for the world.

A new creation. A cleansing from sin. Death and resurrection. All of this is proclaimed, made manifest, epiphany-ied in Jesus’ Baptism. The Spirit and the Father bear witness to Jesus. Exclusively so.

Only in Jesus is there a new creation.
Only in Him is the world cleansed from sin.
Only in Him does the world die and rise.
On no one but Jesus did the Spirit of God descend like a dove.
To no one but Jesus did the Voice from heaven say,
“You are my beloved. I’m pleased with you.”
For no one but Jesus was heaven ripped open.

Like Naaman, the Syrian commander with leprosy, we might be inclined to dip ourselves in other rivers. Rivers that appear holier, purer, more religious, more to our liking and our needs. Can’t we be washed in some other river and be clean? And God’s answer is, “No.” Only through Jesus in the Jordan do we enter the Promised Land. Only in the Baptism of Christ are we reborn, renewed, raised up.

Your Baptism and Christ’s Baptism are not two different baptisms. They are one and the same baptism. Your Baptism is your personal epiphany, where God manifests salvation in Christ to you personally. You often hear people speak of Jesus being their “personal Savior.” And that’s fine, provided you understand it like this: He is the world’s Savior revealed to you personally – in Baptism, in the word of forgiveness, in the Lord’s Supper.

He doesn’t leave you generically saved as “the world.” He is not only the Savior of the world, He is your Savior. He is not simply the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, He is God’s Lamb who takes away your sin. Your Baptism adds nothing to Christ’s Baptism or His death on the cross which saved you. “It is finished,” means just that. It was finished. Baptism adds nothing to Christ’s “it is finished.” Baptism reveals, makes known, applies, and personalizes Christ to you. The spotlight falls on you and God says, “I meant you.” On you the Spirit descends so that you might serve the world as a priest to God. On you the Father’s voice speaks in blessing, “You are my beloved child. I’m pleased with you.”

But it’s all one and the same thing – your Baptism and Jesus’ Baptism. In Him you were baptized, and your baptism tells you so. “Jesus loves me this I know, and my Baptism tells me so.” You are loved in the Beloved Son. You are elect in the Elect Christ. You are chosen in the Chosen Servant named Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus. 

Luke’s Gospel: Grace and Mercy to all Kinds of People

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The Epiphany of Our Lord Part Two

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The Epiphany of Our Lord Part One

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Jesus Saves You Even As A Twelve-Year Old!

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Luke 2:40-52

The NT doesn’t tell us very much about Jesus’ childhood.  Have you ever noticed that?  Last week Luke told us about His circumcision and naming on the 8th day as well as His presentation and redemption at the temple when He was 40 days old. Matthew records His birth in Bethlehem, the angels, shepherds the faithful worship and gifts of the Magi, then the family’s hurried flight to Egypt in order to escape Herod’ s murderous schemes.  Then Matthew records family’s the return to Nazareth where Jesus grew up in Joseph’s carpentry shop – measuring, sawing, hammering, lathing.  No doubt that’s the vocation Jesus learned growing up at Joseph’s surrogate side. Nothing too much unusual. 

But there is something different or unusual about this Child.  He is the eternal Word of the Father made flesh.  He is the Second Person of the undivided Trinity come to dwell among us. And He is completely without sin!  Totally holy!  Perfect!  Righteous!  I would think that people would notice that!   I would expect that everyone who saw Jesus, the Word made flesh, would see something super special.  Like a glowing nimbus or halo around His head.  Or perhaps some kind of heavenly glow shining from His skin.  And if not that, then I’d  at least expect Jesus to be such a good kid that everyone would wonder:  “What’s the deal?  He sure is different! He is not like the other kids!”   

Having raised three children of my own with Mrs. Kuhlman, I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph to raise Jesus.  Sinless Jesus!  Can you imagine what it was like?  I can’t.  You can’t either.  After all, we and all our children are conceived and born into this world with the malignancy of the first Adam’s sin! Side note:  That’s why we baptize the little ones as soon as possible. They are born with the inherited disease of sin.

But Jesus has no sin.  Original or actual!  Why?  Well, it is because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Oh, yes, His mother is Mary but His father is God The Father! Jesus is Adam 2.0!  He is humanity reduced to one without the stain of sin’s toxicity.  But it would appear that as Jesus grows up nobody seems to notice.  The Temple teachers are wowed by His wisdom.  A young theological Sheldon if you will.  Knows the Bible better than all the adults.  However, I think that the amazing thing is that they are amazed. The point?  Well, humanly speaking, Jesus was indistinguishable from every other 12 year old in Jerusalem. Which is also why Mary and Joseph lost track of Him.

Now let’s back up a bit.  Why did they go there in the first place?  Well, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem that year to be taught and examined by the temple teachers. The custom was that all men had to appear in Jerusalem three times a year for the various feasts including the Passover. This was the year of Jesus’ preparation. The next year, when He was thirteen, He would be expected to take His place with the men of Israel. Stop, breath, and ponder that for a second. Thirteen years old and considered a man. Notice that at the end of this reading it says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature….” Earlier in verse 40 it said, “And the child grew and become strong….” He’s no longer a child but now a man. Twelve is the turning point.

Now, let’s push the text for all that’s it’s worth.  Let me push two things.  And by the way – both items that I’ll mention have to do with twelve year old Jesus saving you!  Yes, saving you!  Even as a boy!  Does that have your attention?  I sure hope so. 

First, did you notice that He is OBEDIENT to Joseph and Mary.  He does not despise them or anger them.  He honors them!  Fourth Commandment keeping!  Even though Jesus is their God, He is God in the flesh.  Therefore, He honors and obeys them as their son.  Even though He is their Lord, He obeys them as their Son. Even though He is the Wisdom of God in the Flesh, He is obedient and respectful to His teachers, the earthly authorities.  More Fourth Commandment keeping! 

So here’s what’s salvationally going on FOR YOU!  Jesus was born under the law and lived under the law for you. To obediently keep it perfectly in your place. To actively fulfill it. Not just the Fourth Commandment only but all the Commandments especially the First.  That’s what’s underneath His circumcision, His presentation, His appearance at the temple. He is there in obedience to the Law for you, in your place, for your salvation. He is being prepared, yes. But not simply to be numbered with the men of Israel and participate in the Passover liturgy. He is being prepared for His own Passover, His Good Friday sacrifice on the cross. And that preparation begins with His circumcision under the Law, it continues with His obedient life under the Law, and it all culminates in His perfect death under the Law, all to save you.

We call this Jesus’ “state of humiliation,” His humbling of Himself in obedience to the Law unto death on a cross. Mary and Joseph could not have known that frantic day what the future would hold. The angel had only told them that He would save His people from their sins. He didn’t say how. They were frantic that day, as they searched high and low throughout the crowded city, looking for Jesus. In twenty years, Jesus would go to His appointed hour on the cross, and again Mary would be there, this time without her husband Joseph, and she would know what it meant that He had to be in His Father’s house to do His Father’s will. But for now she treasured all these things in her heart, just as she had pondered what the shepherds of Bethlehem told her the night Jesus was born.

He was obedient to them and to His teachers and to the Law. That’s the first thing to remember on this second Sunday of Christmas. This Child of Bethlehem was born to be like us in every way, yet without sin. Growing up in a household, growing up under parents, going through infancy, childhood, adolescence. Learning, playing, working. Every facet of Jesus’ life reflects your life, except without sin. And it is done so ordinarily, that no one even notices that there is something different about Jesus. Mary and Joseph even seem to have lost sight of what the angel told them in their moment of panic.

So never say “to err is human” or “it’s human to sin.”  No it’s not! Jesus did not sin, and yet He was so perfectly and completely human, no one even noticed.

The second point I want to make today from this is this.  Listen carefully.  God works hiddenly, humbly, and subversively. We see this throughout the Christmas story and Jesus’ childhood. His divinity is buried deeply, completely hidden from human eyes. He appears to be just another twelve year old in the temple. A precociously bright 12 year old, yes. An theologically engaged 12 year old, certainly. But no one said, “Hey, this kid is God!”

We would have missed that point too. We probably would have lost Him in the crowd. And we certainly would not have understood what He was saying when He said, “I must be in my Father’s house.” The incarnation of God is like that. It just doesn’t fit our categories or our way of thinking or our pious religious notions about God. God is Man and Man is God. God is a twelve year old whose parents momentarily lose him.

The one thing you can’t say about Jesus is that He doesn’t know what it’s like to be one of us. He really is Immanuel – God with Us, and “with us” so hiddenly, so humbly, so subversively that we would not have even noticed Him. But that’s precisely the way God works with us and among us. Not in the seen but the unseen. Not in the powerful and mighty, but in the lowly and humble. A manger, a cross. A child. A teenager. A man. He is us. He is you. He embraces your life in all its humanity. He even knows what it’s like to be chewed out by your parents and not have done anything wrong!

That hiddenness is not understood today, nor can it be. Who Jesus is and what He has done must be revealed to us and seen through the gift of faith. There is no other way. Mary treasured these things up in her heart. And that treasured up Word had its way with her, creating and enlivening a living faith in her Son, God’s Son.

The Word made flesh Jesus still comes to you today in the same hidden and subversive way. In the Word and water of Baptism, in the spoken and preached Word of forgiveness, and in the bread and wine of the Supper by which He, through His Word, gives you His Body and His Blood.  So easily ignored, despised, rejected.  Especially now and probably more so in the upcoming year. As easily rejected as a twelve year old kid in the temple. But the Bible says there is something more than meets our eyes, our senses, our reason. This something more is that in this 12 year old Boy is the power and Person of God to save. God in the Flesh come to save you. His perfect obedience to the Law is yours not by what you do but by simply trusting that what He has done He has done FOR YOU!   Even now you have life even in death because of the obedient, perfect Good Friday death of the Son of God in the flesh.

And so once again, on this second Sunday after Christmas, our joy is Immanuel – God with us. The Baby of the manger, the Child in the temple, the Man hanging on the cross! The Word made flesh dwelling among us in order to save us.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Who is Luke? What are some characteristics of his gospel?

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The Circumcision & Naming of Jesus Part Two

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The Circumcision & Naming of Jesus Part One

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