Let us pray: Dear Savior, when we look back over our lives we see that the sins of our youth often come back to haunt us. The pathways of our thinking and actions were established in our youth and thus so were pathways upon which sin travels over the subsequent years. Today teach us the liberating truth that in You we have freedom and forgiveness from such avenues of sin. All this because You never sinned, even in Your youth, and were perfect in all things just for us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR PERFECT TWIN!
TEXT: Luke 2: 41-52
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Growing up is never easy. I grew up in a family with three sisters. I was the youngest and the only boy. Needless to say, I picked on them and they picked on me. Mother and Dad served as continuous referees. I can recall one event when I was about 8 or 9. We had a large garden out on a farm in the countryside about 4 miles from town. One hot summer day I got into a fight with my youngest sister about something which has been long forgotten. Anyway, I let my temper get the better of me and announced in a huff that: “I’m going home!” My father said: “That’s fine, enjoy your walk.” So, I angrily took him up on his challenge and started that long hike home down the gravel roads. I wasn’t scared, as I knew the way. No one called DSS either when a couple of cars passed by and inquired where I was going all alone, as that was a different time and a different place. About a mile from home my family went by in the car and stopped to ask if I needed a ride. My anger wasn’t yet spent, so I refused it. But, I learned my lesson and never attempted that tiring stunt again!
If you grew up with siblings, you experienced sibling rivalry. If you were an only child, you were spoiled and doted on which showed itself in the schoolyard. All children challenge their parents. All parents indulge their children. And when the teenage years come and hormones increase, the rebellion against parental judgment and authority becomes greater and greater. Pathways of behavior are established which come back to haunt us later in life. Who of us isn’t guilt-ridden, even a little, and wishes they could go back and relive certain events over again? Who of us doesn’t wish they could escape the sins of their youth?
The text before us provides such an escape. It provides us with Godly guidance when we’re young and the freedom from a guilt-ridden conscience when we’re older. For in it we see that:
CHRIST CONQUERS THE SINS OF YOUTH
This is the only section of the Bible that speaks of Christ between the events of His birth and the beginning of His public ministry. It’s the only look we have at His youth. Some of the apocryphal books, pious fiction written by pious people, contain stories about His younger years. But they are just what I termed them: fiction.
Jesus grew up as the oldest child in a small town family. From Mark’s gospel we know that He had younger brothers and sisters. No doubt they looked up to Him and were jealous of Him since in every respect He was the “golden boy.” Was He tempted to strike back at them either by words or with physical strength when they baited Him? Of course! For as the Bible says: “He was tempted in all points as we are—yet was without sin.” Yes, even as a child Jesus never let His temper reign. He never told lies to cover up guilt—because He was guilt free. Can you imagine the envy His siblings must have had against Him and the childish mocking He must have experienced? Likewise, He always obeyed His parents—both His earthly ones and His heavenly Father. And here we see that dichotomy getting Him into trouble.
Jewish children started formal education at age five. Up to age 10 their only textbook was the Old Testament. Then from 10 to 15 they studied rabbinic tradition and writings. At age 12 they were deemed to have reached their majority, much like confirmation today. And at that age it was the custom for them to accompany their parents to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Think about that. Jesus went to Jerusalem and for the first time celebrated the Passover knowing in His inner heart that it was really all about Him! For He was the Passover Lamb!
Obviously Mary and Joseph traveled with the relatives in a group. They lost track of Him when the festivities were over thinking He was with someone else. They get about a day’s distance out of the city and discover: He’s gone! How frantic they must have been! They return and search the city. After three days they find Him in the temple court both listening to and also teaching the theologians of the day. “Listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” What were they discussing? Issues of life and death. Issues of how to live in a way that honored God and followed His Word so that life would be a blessing instead of a curse. Issues about how to avoid a guilty conscience and where to find forgiveness.
Mary, the lioness mother, takes it upon herself to upbraid Him: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you?” For probably the first time the “golden boy” appears to have messed up. He appears to have been selfish, more focused on himself than on them. How this must have hurt Mary and Joseph.
But then, Jesus truthfully reminds them that He had another Father, a heavenly One, Who’s business He must also attend to. “But they did not understand what he was saying to them.”—Ah, how quickly human sinners forget God’s truths—even when revealed by angels years before!
After this gentle correction of His parents, Jesus obediently went with them back to Nazareth. Mary pondered all this in her heart. And we’re told “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Yes, the “golden boy” got back on track, in His parent’s eyes, even though He had never gone off track.
Jesus never broke any of the commandments. He was never guilty of envy, or selfishness, or wilfullness. He didn’t portray Himself as a “know-it-all.”—Even if He was! He always tried to reach out in love and respect to all people and all ages. In short, He was perfect in His youth. And by perfectly obeying all of God’s will for us He conquered all the sins of our youth. Through faith you and I are given that perfection. Through faith Jesus places it upon us, over us, and around us. His eternal Father looks at us and sees Jesus—not the rebellious, arrogant, selfish children we were or are. And because of this we don’t have to let the pathways of sin—established in our youth—guide us any longer. We’re free! Free to live and act as honest, responsible, blest children of that same Heavenly Father!
It is said that the “past comes back to haunt us.” That’s certainly true of unrepentant sinners, but isn’t true of forgiven sinners. And that’s what you are: forgiven by the guilt-free life of your perfect Twin Brother, Jesus Christ! Amen.