The First Sunday After Christmas December 26, 2004
710 (76, TLH alt.), 93, 99, 105(7-8)
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In the name of Jesus who subjected Himself to both His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father, dear fellow redeemed:
Today when questions concerning a career are posed to someone in high school, the answers are virtually limitless. In our society and freedom a person has a great variety of jobs from which to choose. Some may even go into several different careers during his lifetime. Two hundred years ago that wasn’t so much of an issue. For the most part a person would basically follow in his father’s footsteps whether it was as a farmer or a blacksmith or a merchant. The family business was of utmost importance. In such cases it is necessary to know the business.
As Christians we have two fathers—the one on this earth and the One in heaven. While we may or may not know the work of our earthly father, it is vital that we know the business of our Heavenly Father. Our Lord Jesus shows us this through His visit to the temple as a twelve-year old boy. Even then He knew that He must be about His Father’s business. May the Holy Spirit lead us in that same direction as we study His Word this morning. KNOW YOUR FATHER’S BUSINESS I. It involves learning and living His Word; II. It takes precedence over the business of this earth.
Since He was raised by godly parents, Jesus was exposed to the Jewish laws and customs. This included an annual trip to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord at His temple. Jesus went even further. We read that He spent three to four days at the temple studying the Scriptures in-depth with the teachers who were there. He answered and asked questions. Perhaps He was even instructing with His questions.
We are told at the end of our text that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature—both intellectually and physically—so He was indeed studying the Scriptures. At the same time He was perfectly understanding and interpreting what was written. He knew the importance of God’s Word and the fact that it needs to be elevated over and above every aspect of our lives.
It was in the Bible that Jesus learned His heavenly Father’s business. It is possible that He learned the trade of carpentry from Joseph, but His role as Messiah is laid out even in the Old Testament. Jesus told the Jews in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” The Father’s business is that of saving souls. Jesus would not only see Himself in the prophecies, but He would also live in perfect obedience thus fulfilling the Law and the Promise given by God. Every moment of Jesus’ life on this earth was living up to that, whether He was obeying His parents as a child, teaching in the synagogue or on a hillside. Whether He was comforting a woman of a poor reputation or admonishing the Pharisees, He was doing the work that His Father had laid before Him. Even in death Jesus was doing the will of His Father, and He did it all for our benefit. In the ninth chapter of John we find these words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). In fulfilling the work of redemption Jesus made His Father your Father as well.
Since God is also our Father, we too need to go the Scriptures to find out about His business of saving souls. If your earthly father had written down all that he thought that you needed to know from changing the oil in your car, to how to invest your money, to how to treat your mother or your wife, to what sort of things you need to look for when purchasing a home or a vehicle, I’m sure that you would treasure that document when he was gone.
Our Heavenly Father has done just that. He has written down for us everything He deems to be important. He tells us why it was necessary for Him to save souls, namely, because of the sin that entered the world and infected each and every one of us, and because of the penalty for sin which is destruction in Hell. He has told us how He went about that salvation, by sending His only Son into the world to take your sin upon Himself. He has also let us know about our role in His plan as He wants us to live that salvation and proclaim it to others. He has told us of the grave danger of giving spiritual offense to others and causing a person to stumble. He has told us that we are witnesses to the world not only in what we say, but also by what we do. He has made it clear that as His children going about His business we will be markedly different from the world, and despite the repercussions that may come, being different from the world is good.
There can indeed be conflicts over the business of this world and our Father’s business. In our text we found that Mary and Joseph and Jesus had different ideas of priorities. In normal circumstances the reaction of Mary and Joseph is quite understandable. If you’ve ever lost sight of one your children in a mall or department store, you know that feeling of panic in the pit of your stomach. Imagine how Mary and Joseph at first convinced themselves that Jesus was along somewhere in the long caravan of relatives and friends. Then imagine that feeling of panic growing into terror when after three days there was still no sign of Jesus. All of the fear and panic bubbled over when they finally found Jesus in the temple. The words of Mary would, I’m sure, be on the lips of just about every parent. After the relief, the scolding followed: “Son, why have done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” [v.48]
Jesus replied in a way that would remind His parents of who He was. I’m sure they had grown so accustomed to Jesus that at times, like other people, they only saw His humanity. He said to them, “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” [v.49] The Bible tells us that they did not understand this. What did carpentry have to do with this?
Jesus’ response was not smarting-off or being sassy. In perfect righteousness He obeyed and respected His earthly parents. Yet, when a choice came between their will and the will of His heavenly Father, His loyalty was clear. He must be about His Father’s business. That was the business He came to this earth to do. That was His first and foremost responsibility.
Here is where we so often go astray. We give undue importance to the business and affairs of this earth which are really only a means to an end. A person sets out with goals: owning a car, owning a home, having a certain amount of land, having a certain amount of income, or maybe even being able to retire comfortably at an earlier age than the norm. You get there and there’s still an empty feeling that something is missing. Even millionaires or billionaires—the most successful businessmen and athletes and politicians—still may feel unfulfilled in many ways. This feeling will be especially true when the Last Day arrives and all that we see before us will be destroyed by fire. The business of this earth deserves some attention, but only as much as is due something that is here today and gone the next.
On the other hand, our Father’s business deserves the weight and attention of things eternal. The soul will last forever, and soul-saving is what our Father is all about. Yes, the body will also be raised, but whether it is raised for eternal destruction or eternal life depends on that status of the soul. Our Father’s business deserves our undivided attention because it is about what lasts forever. There is always the danger of putting too great of an emphasis on the affairs of this world, and when that happens one priority is traded for another. There are no ties for first when it comes to the heart. There is always something or someone that is loved the most.
As congregations prepare for their annual voters’ meetings they do well to recognize that they are gathering together to do our Father’s business. As a group of believers, we look at the best way in which we can use the resources God has given us to take care of the souls among us and around us. We consider how we can best and most effectively work together for His glory.
These gatherings have an official ring and perhaps are obvious ways of doing God’s business. But you are also doing the work of God when you do the simple task of inviting somebody to church, offer a word of Gospel comfort when a person is in a crisis situation, share the light of God’s Word with someone for his instruction, or even restrain yourself from using foul language. You are doing the work of God when you confess your faith in a hostile environment or give up a luxury so that the surplus of what God has given you may be used for the spreading of His Gospel—maybe in India or for the education of future pastors. You are doing the Father’s business when you take the unenviable task of pointing out sin to someone and lovingly work to call him to repentance.
Whatever your business on this earth is—family owned or not, your Father’s business deserves the greater attention. Learn of that business in the Scriptures and live it in your lives. Too much is at stake not to give it the attention that it deserves. Jesus showed us this in His birth, His life, and His death. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.