Asking Questions; Seeking Answers

Jesus: Meet Him Again for the First Time  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:10:37
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We are in the season of Lent, a 7 week journey to Easter. And for the next several weeks we’re going to be meeting Jesus. Some of you might say, but I already know Jesus. Well, we’re going to examine what we know and be open to what we don’t know. What does the Bible say? What else can we know?
Most of us are familiar with the birth narratives we find in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. The truth is we know very little about Jesus early life, but it clearly was instrumental as it is for any one of us for shaping the person he was to become. It’s the process of growing up. These years were significant, He too was shaped by his developing years, by His environment, by His community in which He lived, and by the family to which He belonged.
Yet the Scriptures we have are nearly entirely silent about Jesus formative years. Everything we know about Jesus from the time He was circumcised and later presented at the temple to the time of His ministry is summed up in these 14 verses we have in the Gospel according to Luke. From His presentation at the temple we skip to Jesus as a pre-teen. Our passage this morning speaks of Jesus as an adolescent. Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. When the feast is over they have their own “Home Alone” kind of experience, leaving Jesus behind.
Luke 2:46 ESV
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
And then, we don’t hear from Jesus again until the beginning of his baptism by John, His temptation and entering into his ministry.
So before we dive into our passage here it is important that we recognize the the immediate environment around Jesus, His family. If we were to look back just two verses we read in verse 39,
Luke 2:39 ESV
And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
Jesus’ earthly parents were more than willing to follow the Lord’s leading when it came to how to raise and care for this child with whom they’d been entrusted. They didn’t neglect to make sure they’d done all the rituals, circumcision, presenting at the temple and the yearly journey to the temple in Jerusalem for Passover.
Growing up Jesus would see the stark contrast between the ruggedness mountains of Judea surrounding the fertile area in which he lived. Galilee had the mountains surround it, and the sea beside it. Figs, olives, and other produce were among the agrarian produce of the area. The sea of Galilee was known for the fishing industry. The rich landscape and shoreline inspired it’s people to the practical blessings of diligent labor.
One of my mentors, Paul Smith, wrote:
“Without question, Jesus would have heard many tales about his ancestors and their place in the land. All of this would have shaped His self-image, His understanding of who He was, and His expectations for who He would become. And there would have been a certain security, founded not only on His parent’s love and HIs father’s place in the community, but on the extended family and the many relations which surrounded them.”
We know that Jesus’ father, Joseph, was a carpenter. I have little doubt that Jesus accompanied him up the mountains of Galilee to the old growth oak forests to fell trees that would become furniture, and even houses that His father would be part of building. And we can’t forget his uncle Zebedee and aunt Salome (Mary’s sister) just the better part of a day’s journey to Lake Gennesaret where they had a fishing business. It’s not difficult to imagine Jesus spending time with His cousins James and John fishing on that lake. Jesus seemed to be very comfortable in boats later in HIs life.
Jesus like other sons in the area would learn the craft of their fathers, participating once of age in the work. The work of a carpenter is difficult work, the crafting of doors, window lattices, tables, chairs, wheels, chests, using a variety of tools. Somehow history has always imagined Jesus as a simple fragile contemplative person. Yet exactly the opposite must be true. The craft of carpentry demanded strength, and uncommon strength at that to build these things; Jesus would have had to become tough and muscular to accomplish what would have been demanded by such work. It is no doubt why Luke says that Jesus grew strong:
Luke 2:40 ESV
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
At the age of six, Jesus would have gone to spend part of His day with a teacher at the local synagogue. There He would join with other children gathering around an elderly instructor learning the Law and the prophets, how to write His letters. The education was fairly informal yet effective. By the time Jesus was a young man he knew four languages: He knew Hebrew, His native language; Aramaic, the language of His contemporaries; Latin, the language of the Romans and the occupying government; and Greek, the language of commerce and intercultural activity.
Now as we continue in our passage we find that He was a thoughtful contemplative child as well. When His parents find Him, He is not at the local carpentry shop picking up new skills from the carpenters that no doubt dotted the Jerusalem community. No, He is in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
And we’re told:
Luke 2:47 ESV
And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
His parents are astonished to find Him sitting there. And after finding Him they all go back to Nazareth, and we read Lk 2:51-52
Luke 2:51–52 NIV
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The truth is even Jesus grew up. I want to back up to verse 46 where Jesus is in the temple:
Luke 2:46 ESV
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Sitting among the teachers… -that’s profound. He’s 12, and apparently a very confident 12.
We read closer: “listening to them.”
Listening is key to learning, and it is key to teaching. Perhaps the teachers were using guided inquiry to teach? Perhaps Jesus was turning the table on them and doing the same thing. I can imagine Jesus questioning amazing them because His questions opened up to them new understanding of the Law and the prophets.
Remember when Jesus recounts the Law in the Sermon on the Mount He raised the bar. Perhaps it is here that we get a glimpse of the beginning of that kind of understanding.
So, as we are seeking to understand Jesus what are we to take away from this encounter with Him.
I think one thing it does is invite us to examine some of the questions Jesus asked in His ministry:
Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15
Matthew 16:15 ESV
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
2. What is it you want me to do for you?
Mark 10:36 ESV
And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”
As we read the Gospels, of course we are invited to ask questions and seek answers. But we are also asked questions. How do you answer them?
I want you to think of how you would answer these questions Jesus asked.
The truth is, much like the teachers in the Temple probably learned, how we answer Jesus questions will likely reveal to us a lot about ourselves and our faith and our understanding of who God is.
Let me pray for you.

Asking Questions; Seeking Answers

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