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TEXT: Luke 5:21-52
SUBJECT: Luke #6: Childhood
Today, with God's help, we'll continue our study of Luke's Gospel. Last time, we looked at the birth of our Lord and the wonderful things that surrounded it. Now, we'll have a look at the first twelve years of His life.
The record, of course, is not complete, but we have everything we need to know. What we have is three short stories that sum up the Lord's childhood and anticipate the kind of man He will become.
The stories are three, but they ought to be read together because they make one single point. We'll get to that in a few minutes-Lord willing-but first the stories.
The first story takes place when the Lord is eight days old. At that time, in obedience to the Law of God, He is taken to the synagogue and circumcised by the local rabbi. He's also named that day. Months before, the angel said His name must be Jesus, and so it is.
From reading Matthew's Gospel, we find out why He must have that name, because it means, "He will save His people from their sins".
In time, He'll do just that. But Luke makes no mention of this because He's got another point to make with the story.
The next story takes place about five weeks later. The Lord is now forty days old, and according to the Law of Moses, He must be brought to the Temple and formally presented to God. This was not unique to the Lord Jesus because every firstborn son in Israel was consecrated to God in the same way.
With their Son, Joseph and Mary brought a pair of doves or pigeons for sacrifice. The heads were cut off, the blood was drained, and the bodies were burned on the altar. With the blessing of the priest, the Lord was now dedicated to God.
But that's not the only blessing He received that day. Two others came and they left the parents thankful and worried about what God had planned for their Son.
The first came from an old man named Simeon. He was pious and just man who was nearing the end of his life. He had no regrets about how he had lived, but he was sad about one thing: He would not see the Messiah-at least that's what he thought.
But one day, the Holy Spirit corrected him, "You will not see death until you have seen the Lord's Christ".
This filled the man with hope. He knew he wouldn't live much longer-and that means Messiah is on the way!
A few days later, the Spirit spoke to him again, telling him to go to the Temple and meet his Savior. He went in and-I suppose-looked for a royal family of some kind. But all he saw was a poor carpenter with a little girl at his side and in their arms a Baby Boy. When Simeon spotted the Boy, he took Him into his arms, and broke into song,
"Lord, You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word; For my eyes have seen Your Salvation Which You have prepared before the face Of all peoples-a Light to bring revelation To the Gentiles, and the glory of Your People Israel".
Simeon could die in peace now because-in this ill-clad, peasant Boy, he foresaw the salvation of the world. Christ would be a "Light to the Gentiles and the Glory of Israel".
Both are allusions to the Old Testament. What Israel should have been, but failed to be, Christ would become-a Light to the nations, bringing the knowledge of God into the dark souls of the pagan world.
As for the Glory of Israel? That was the Presence of God! Which Jesus Christ carried with Him in a way the Ark of the Covenant never could,
'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the. Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth".
Simeon's stirring words are more than an old man's hope or dream; they're prophecy, inspired by the Holy Spirit-and fulfilled in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
But the old man has more to say. He blesses Mary and Joseph and has a special word for her,
"Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against, yes, and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed".
Jesus Christ will become the most controversial man in history. Some will rise because of Him-the humble will obtain the honor of being God's children. But others will fall-the proud will be broken forever.
When it comes to Christ, there is no middle ground. You either worship Him or you crucify Him. To remain "neutral" is be against Him, for how can a subject be neutral to his King? He either honors and obeys him or he dishonors and disobeys him.
Simeon has made it clear: You have to choose. Are you for Jesus Christ or against Him? No, it's not that you have to choose, the fact is, you are choosing. Right now-and every minute of the day. What choice are you making?
Mary will suffer much because her Son. His life and death will break her heart. But they will also save her soul.
True character will be seen in your response to Christ. Let a man claim to love justice and mercy and every virtue, but you'll see what he really loves by what he makes of Christ.
Simeon has had his say. Now it is Anna's turn. She is an old woman, about 84 years about. For seven years, she was a man's wife. But when he died, she moved into the Temple where she has fasted and prayed for many years. Anna is a saint, but that's not all she is: she is also a prophetess.
What she has prophesied in the past, we don't know, but we know what she has to say now,
"She gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem".
God told her who the baby was, and she blessed Him for sending Him into the world. But she didn't stop there. She told everyone to look for redemption in Him-and Him alone.
The word, "redemption" is used of slaves and debtors and prisoners, and others who are in bondage. This Boy-she says-will grow up to
"Proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord".
God's people are, by nature, enslaved to the devil. But Christ plucks off the chains, freeing us to serve God. We are locked up in our own sins, but Christ breaks down the doors of lust, and bids us "go free". We are in debt to God's justice, but Christ cancels the debt with His own blood.
There is such a thing as redemption-freedom from sin, guilt, fear, and Satan. It is available to everyone, but only in Christ!
"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed".
That's the second story-Jesus Christ presented to God.
MY FATHER'S BUSINESS
The third story occurs twelve years later. The family has moved to Nazareth, but, obeying the Law of God, they go up to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
The holiday lasts for one week, during which time the Lord prepares for His Bar-Mitzvah by discussing the Bible with the teachers in the Temple.
The family packs up and travels north for a whole day, only to find, their Son is not with them. Sick with worry, they turn back to Jerusalem and look for Him for three solid days. At last, they go back to the Temple, and there He is in conversation with the doctors of the Law.
Mary is beside herself with rage, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously!"
The Lord is shocked by His mother's outburst! She says that He's done her and His father wrong, but the Lord says-in effect-"My Father? Why, I'm doing His business right now!"
The Lord is not scolding His mother or slighting her husband in the least. But what He's doing is this: He's reminding them that He doesn't belong to them. In a way, He is their son. But, in a much deeper way, He is God's Son. And nobody is coming between Him and His Father in Heaven! Not even Mary and Joseph!
The last two verses prove the case. He is God's Son doing God's will first, but He also respects His parents and grows up as a model boy,
"Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and Stature, and in favor with God and men".
Well, there you have it-three stories about the Lord's childhood.
Now, what do they mean? A lot of good can be said about all three: we see the Lord submitting to God's will, even from infancy. In His circumcision, we find Him coming under the Law of Moses "To redeem those who are under the Law". In the stories of Simeon and Anna, we see the value of older saints. In the last story, we learn that even the best parents may misunderstand their children, and that kids ought to respect their moms and dads, even when they're wrong and unreasonable. Many true and helpful things can be said about the stories.
But I think Luke has chosen the stories and put them together for a different purpose. If you think about it, the three stories have one thing in common. They show that Jesus Christ is fully devoted to God.
Think about it:
Circumcision was a sign of the Covenant and stood for many things. Christians differ somewhat on the details, but we all agree on the big idea. Whatever else it implies, circumcision stands for devotion to God. By nature, men are uncircumcised; by cutting away the foreskin, though, the Jews were set apart from other men and made God's peculiar people. That's why if a Gentile converted to Judaism, he must be circumcised. It's also why if a Jew was not circumcised, he was "Cut off from his people".
It was the outward sign of devotion to God. And that's what the Lord Jesus Christ submits to at eight days old.
Presentation was a further sign of devotion. All Jewish boys were circumcised, but only the first-born was presented to the Lord. This, too, had various aspects, but chiefly, it looked back to the days when the firstborn was also the family's priest. The whole family served God, of course, but the firstborn had a special calling. And a unique devotion to God.
When He came of age, the Lord showed that His devotion to God was more than formal and ceremonial. Millions of boys were circumcised; many thousands were presented, but only a handful were truly devoted to God. And only One was perfectly devoted to God. Only One had the right to rebuke His mother, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
Jesus Christ was devoted to God from His infancy. And He never strayed from it. The years only increased it.
What we see flashes of in His youth, we see fully developed when He becomes a man.
At the wedding in Cana, Mary wants Him to so something about the wine that has run out. But He rebukes her, "My hour has not come!"
In other words, though He loves and respects His mother, He is not her servant! When God tells Him to act, then He will act, and not a minute before.
Later, His friend Peter tries to talk Him out of being crucified, he even scolded Him for it. But the Lord turned on Peter and chided him,
"Get behind Me, Satan, for you are not savoring the things of God, but the things of man".
He won't be bullied by His friends or talked into anything. Although He is the most generous and accommodating of men, He is not their servant. God calls the shots!
Still later, we have the final test: The tug of war, this time, however, is not between the will of God and the will of some loved one. The struggle is between God's will and our Lord's own wishes. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays so hard that He sweats great drops of blood. Here's the summary of the three hours of prayer,
"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done".
Jesus Christ is fully devoted to God. Nothing can shake the devotion-not a mother's wishes, not a friend's advice, not even His own desires!
"My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish the work".
He will do only God's will and all of God's will. Jesus Christ is devoted to God-fully and from the heart.
We ought to love Him for it.
If the Lord were partly devoted to God, we would be lost-lost forever. Why? Because had He turned back at any point, it would have been at the cross.
He would have hid Himself from Judas or slipped off in the darkness of the Garden or let Peter defend Him or spoken to Pilate and gone free or called the legions of angels who stood ready to move at His signal.
But He did none of the above. He wouldn't even pray for deliverance!
"Now, my soul is troubled. And what shall I say, `Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this hour I have come forth. Father, glorify Thy Name".
Our eternal life depends on a Savior, not mostly, but perfectly devoted to God's will. For Him, being holy, devout, blameless, and so on, was not good enough! He is either perfect or we are lost!
"I do always those things that please the Father".
We ought to love the Lord Jesus Christ for His total commitment to God.
Finally, we ought to imitate His devotion to God.
Our devotion will never be perfect, but we can be far more committed to God than we are! Much can be said here, but I must hurry:
Think of His use of time. Was the Lord always reading the Bible, praying, or preaching the Gospel? Of course not! He worked and slept and ate and went to parties, like anyone else. But He whether He was working or resting or going out, He did not squander His time on sinful or even stupid pursuits!
Think of His use of money. The Lord was a poor man, yet He and His disciples kept a money bag for those who were poorer than they. What a contrast! A poor man gives alms to the poor, while rich people can't spare a dime for charity or church or hospitality or missions or anything beyond their own desires!
Think of His commitment to God's people. Was there ever a more aggravating group of men than the Lord's twelve disciples? Setting aside Judas, we have men who knew Him well, who still jockeyed for position in the Kingdom, thought they ought to nuke unbelievers, bawled out a lady for wasting money on Christ, and would not believe till fingers were stuck into His nail prints and hands thrust into his side! Yet, because they were God's People, He patiently loved them.
This is what the Lord Jesus Christ was and still is. And as the Man devoted to God, He serves as the role model for every Christian.
Are you imitating Him? If you're not, you ought to be. And you needn't wait till you're grown up to do it. If He was devoted to God from eight days old, you're not too young to start!
God bless you. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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