O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Luke 2:40-52
Preached on January 5, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, heaven burst upon the earth the night of our Lord's delivery. Heaven itself. Angels and Archangels sang. A good Word was given. And the Shepherds were told where to find Him. But Heaven wasn't specifically out in the fields, it was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. All of the vast glory of heaven was held in a feeding trough in the flesh of the infant Jesus. With the birth of Jesus Heaven came down to earth - fully. For heaven is not just some place, heaven is wherever God the LORD is. And with Christmas, God has been born. "Unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ - the LORD." God has become flesh incarnate - a baby born of the blessed virgin. Thus heaven coos, and cries, and writhes and wiggles, and nurses and fills his britches, and grows, and matures, and travels to Egypt, and then to Nazareth. Heaven fills the home of a carpenter as the Lord Jesus submits Himself to His earthly parents.
Where Jesus is there is Heaven. All who would be in heaven must be where Jesus is. Apart from Jesus, apart from this child, apart from the one who suffered, died and rose again, there is no heaven - only hell.
Thus you can imagine the horror of Mary and Joseph, these stewards of heaven on earth, when they depart from the temple without Jesus. Every parent's nightmare is losing their child. You know that awful feeling - when you turn around and their not there - that seizure that runs through your body - the adrenaline that floods your system putting you on full alert as you frantically search for your little love - it doesn't matter how you imagine this loss - whether it's in the supermarket for a few minutes as he or she hides in the next aisle, or to a stranger in a parked car at the bus stop, or to an accidental death. Losing a child is hell. And Mary and Joseph lost the Son of God! They lost heaven. In the flesh. That was hell. Thus they searched and searched and traced over their steps. They went back to where they last saw Him, where they knew He was before they left. They went to the temple and after three days they found Him - safe, sound, and teaching the teachers.
3 days - for those brief 3 days, Mary and Joseph failed as parents. They took their eyes off heaven and lost their son, they lost Jesus and were thrust into a world of chaos. It was as though they themselves were lost. And the same is true for us - when we lose sight of Jesus. We get lost. It's not Jesus who gets lost. He's never lost. He's always where He's supposed to be - doing His Father's business. But we get lost. We get distracted. We lose sight of heaven and become more concerned about other things, earthly things, fleshly things. The devil, the world, and even our own sinful nature lead us away from Jesus and where He is - away from heaven. And it happens all the time.
Think of your own life. Is there disorder, chaos, unrest, lack of rest, arguments with family, brothers and sisters warring with one another? Are you tired, weary, wandering about trying to find your place, your purpose, your calling? Have you indulged in the wrong things? Have you touched forbidden fruit? Have you found yourself chasing after women and wine, power and status, all the while neglecting your vocation as Husband or wife, parent or child, godly citizen and godly neighbor? Chasing sin leads to disordered lives. It hurts the ones we're called to love and loves those things which the Lord calls us to repent of. When we chase sin, we lose sight of Jesus. We suffer the torments of a chaotic life. We get dizzy and confused, lost as we are led to hell. What we really need is to turn around. You need to turn around, and not just today, not just as your New Year's resolution, but every day. For, every day we sin. Every day we take our eyes off of heaven. Every day we fail and begin to wander away like Mary and Joseph did in Jerusalem. To follow Jesus, to be where Jesus is, to have heaven for today, tomorrow and eternity requires faith, faith that is fixed on Jesus and His Word.
We know well how easily distracted we are, but not Jesus. Jesus did not come to get lost, but to rescue the lost. He was about His Father's business. He knows why He has come. He knows where He is going. To the cross - for Mary and Joseph, for you and for me - yes, for the whole world. Jesus goes about His Father's business in humble obedience. In childhood, He subjects Himself to His earthly parents. On the cross, He subjects Himself to Pilate and Herod and His Father's righteous Law. He does not complain. He does not whimper and whine. He doesn't try to justify Himself. No, He is silent - led like a lamb to the slaughter. He goes to the cross! He goes for you and me. He goes to shed His blood, blood that will cover over your failings, your wanderings, your lusts and your foolish distractions. Blood that will call you back to Him. Blood whose red will catch your roaming eye and bind you back to the Heaven Christ comes to give you. Jesus, this heaven, goes into the midst of hell, suffers the forsakenness of His heavenly Father, pleads for your forgiveness, pours out His very life, endures the scorn and mockery of man's folly, suffers, dies and surrenders to His Father's will. He is about His Father's business to the very end, even unto eternity.
For it is the Father's will that His Son is NOT lost to the world! But after three days Jesus is found again, found alive, proclaimed risen and resurrected from the dead. The Holy One of God saw no decay and stepped out of death and the grave that Easter morning so that you and I may find Him, and finding Him, follow Him, and following Him by faith, enter into Heaven for all eternity, enter into Jesus. Be with Him, this One who loves you in this unfathomable way. Wherever Jesus is there is Heaven.
Mary and Joseph found Jesus after three days. It was as though He were raised from the dead. Getting Jesus back they received heaven back. Receiving heaven they were restored to their vocations and Jesus willingly subjected Himself to their parental office. That's what forgiveness does. It's not just the wiping away of sins but it's more. There's always more with Jesus. And it's always good. With forgiveness Jesus also gives the restoration of one's life and purpose in the kingdom of God. Receiving forgiveness by faith you and I are renewed, whether it's as parents, spouse, citizen or neighbor. We each have our vocations. Our God-given callings. And though we daily sin much, are distracted with other things, and too often neglect those whom God has given us to love, He forgives us in Christ and sends us back to love as He's loved us. He puts His Word into action toward us first and then through such a loving and active Word He teaches us to love others. He teaches us how to live our lives to His glory and for the good of our neighbor. In Him we have redemption, redemption of our whole lives, who and what we are as well as what we do. In Christ you are a new creation.
Therefore, dear Christian, as you are His new creation, buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him in His resurrection, follow Him where He goes and learn how He loves. His Word is your life. His Word strengthens you against sin and temptation. His Word tells you what is sin. His Word reveals where you'll get lost. His Word directs you back to Christ. His Word gives you the Love of God. His Word sustains you as you serve your families, neighbors, and community. His Word gives you His presence. For where the Word of God is, there is Heaven!
Fellow baptized saints, as Christians we want to be where the Word of God is. We want to be where Jesus is. We want heaven. If we don't then we have to ask ourselves if we're truly Christians. Christians are about Christ, about Jesus, about hearing His Word and following His paths. Yes, our faults and failings get in the way and we can often get lost. But Jesus is never lost. He is always where He needs to be for us. Therefore when we find that we are lost, that our eyes have not been on Jesus, nor our ears hearing His Word, let us retrace our steps, making the sign of the cross, remembering our baptism, remembering that Jesus is always about His Father's business in His Father's house. Let us repent and return our lives to the Lord. And then let us sing with angels and archangels, with Mary and Joseph, and all the saints, yes, let us sing, Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His people on earth! Heaven has come down this morning. Jesus is here, for you. In His Holy Name, AMEN
Rev. Cameron Schnarr