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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Young Jesus in the Temple

Introduction
During lent and March Madness, I've been encouraging everyone to make a 3-point shot by focusing on 3 things: prayer, study, and service. Last week, we talked about prayer. Today, I want to talk about study.  Jesus prayed, but he also studied.  He grew up in a Jewish family that studied the Scriptures in synagogue every week.  And this morning, I want to read an enlightening story about a time Jesus was 12-years-old and his family took him on a special trip to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:41-52
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Lost and Found
Have you ever lost your child—even for a moment?  My wife and I lost our daughter Grace once while we were shopping at JC Penny. We were talking to my wife's cousin when Grace, who was 2 or 3-years-old, wandered off unnoticed. She was only gone for a moment before we discovered her hiding in a rack of clothes. It's was an awful feeling while we searched for her frantically. I can't imagine how Mary and Joseph felt when they couldn’t find Jesus for 3 days and they had no idea where he was.  It must have been terrifying!
This story reminds me that we are all God's children. We all, also, have been lost and God searches for us frantically until He finds us. Perhaps the best place to get found is in our Father's house. However, because of Jesus, God can find us anywhere, even if we are far, far away from His house.
There is a lot that could be said about this passage, but let’s zoom in on verse 49.  When his parents scolded Jesus for causing them to search frantically for him, he said, “Why did you need to search for me?”  Jesus supposed his location should have been obvious to his parents.  His character, his interests, his very DNA dictated where he would be.  “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Let’s look closer at that statement.

Jesus said, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  
Jesus was committed to study.  Even as a young boy, Jesus was determined to study the scriptures, listen to religious teachers, and ask questions.  He was an exceptional student.  His love of learning continued throughout his life.
Study is essential to the Christian faith.  Christians are Jesus’ disciples.  The word disciple literally means “student.”  You can’t be a student without study.  If we are going to be disciples who follow Jesus, we must study.
Study establishes our faith, helps us grow, and equips us to serve.  Luke 2:52 tells us, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God.”  If study was important for Jesus, we should study too.  But where should we study?

Jesus said, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?  
In other words:  “Didn’t you know where I would be studying—in my Father’s house?”  Jesus studied in the Church. Jesus was God, but he never separated himself from the Church.  Jesus studied in synagogues and the Jerusalem Temple all his life. These were the Jewish versions of a local church.  The scriptures tell us Jesus attended synagogue every week to teach and study (see Luke 4:16, 31, John 18:20, and numerous other inferences in the New Testament).  He set an example for us.
Jesus transformed the world.  He ushered in God grace and forgiveness and salvation.  And Jesus established the Church to be his bodily presence on the earth.  Matthew 16:18 – “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
If Jesus didn’t believe in organized religion, he could have easily done away with it.  Instead, Jesus reformed organized religion by forming the Christian Church.  Throughout the New Testament, the Church acts as the representative of Christ in the world.  It is where disciples came to study and grow in the faith so they could go out to serve and spread the Gospel to the whole world.  The Bible tells us the Church is essential.  Ephesians 1:23 says, “And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”  And 1 Timothy 3:15 says, “…the household of God, which is the church of the living God, [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
Today, the Church continues to fulfill Christ’s plan.  The Church guides our understanding, checks our pride and misapplication of knowledge, encourages and motivates us, equips us to serve, and sends us out on a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ to change the world.
We have several ways you can get involved in study at my church:
  • We are studying THE STORY, by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee on Wednesday nights and Thrusday mornings. The book, which reads like a novel, takes students through the whole Bible in chronological order from beginning to end. We read one chapter a week and then gather together to watch a video about the chapter and discuss it. I invite you to read along with us and come to the study if you live nearby.
  • One of the easiest ways to study is to join a small group or Sunday school class.
  • Another great way to study at our church is in our youth or children’s ministry. Here, our awesome ministers and volunteers teach the Bible in a relevant, age appropriate ways. EVen if you are not a child or teenager, you can volunteer!  You will be helping out and learning all at the same time.
  • Or perhaps you would like to start a new study of your own. Leading a study is one of the best ways to learn. The teacher or leader or facilitator almost always learns the most in a study as they prepare for the class each week.

There is one final, but critical point I need to make:

Jesus said, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?
Study is About Relationships–Christian study is focused on building a relationship with God and each other.  Remember, Jesus said the first and second greatest commandments are:  “Love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor.”  (Matthew 22:36-40)
So the Christian’s study must be more about transformation than mere information.  What good is it to know a lot about Jesus if you don’t know Jesus?  What good is religious information if it doesn’t transform who you are and the way you live?
I know a man who has a motorcycle, but he's afraid to ride it. He knows all about the bike and how it works. He is constantly customizing the bike to make it the best, safest, coolest bike possible, but he never rides it because he is afraid to leave his house. What good is all his knowledge and work on the bike if he never rides it?
When Christians study, our goal is to have a real relationship with God and His people.  It is more than the satisfaction of a curiosity or fascination with an interesting topic.  Christian study is meant to deepen our relationship with God—to know Him better, to understand His will for our life, to marvel in His glory, and be part of His people. What good is it to know all about Jesus if we don't know him. What good is it to know all about the Gospel if we never go out to share it with someone else and help change the world?

Summary:
In summary, there are three points I wanted you to glean today. First, study is essential to the Christian faith. Second, Jesus gave us the church to help us study. And finally, Christian study helps us build a relationship with God and His people so we can go out and help change the world. Will you be a disciple—a student follower of Jesus?  Will you make a commitment to study—not just so you can be a know-it-all, but so you can know Jesus and his love?