The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
– Luke 2:41–52 ESV
Most parents who have raised a child through adolescence can relate to the account of the Holy Family in Luke 2:41-52.
Here is twelve-year-old Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, on the brink of manhood, speaking for Himself, revealing His identity as Son of the Father, full of grace and truth (as John would say in the opening verses of his gospel).
Here are Mary, His mother, and Joseph, His guardian, looking at eachother as they realize that their Son—the Son of God, no less!—is missing from the band of Passover pilgrims, extended family and friends who are now heading home.
Now, Mother Mary had been pondering the question we sing about in this season—“What Child Is This?”—for a good thirteen years, ever since that angel announced God’s decision that she should be the virgin mother of God come to earth. Now, she and Joseph are seeing just whose child this is. This twelve-year-old shows wisdom beyond His years, holding His own in theological debate with teachers of the law who remained at the temple. Any parent can understand the words of mother to Son:
“Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”
And in this text, on the brink of manhood according to God’s Law and Covenant, Jesus spoke for Himself. On that day in the Temple, twelve-year-old Jesus began to reveal that He came from the Father to do His Father’s business. Yet he also showed respect, obedience to his mother and his earthly father-guardian.
God’s Word for today points us to a transforming moment in the Holy Family’s life—that moment when Jesus Himself begins to reveal, in His own words, who He is, why He was born, and where it will lead. Three decades later, in the fullness of adulthood, Jesus will be back in the Temple at Passover time. He will face the teachers of the Law for one last time, finishing His Father’s business on the Cross, and giving the mandate to make disciples of all nations by baptizing in the Triune Name and teaching obedience to all He has commanded.
Like that first Holy Family, we parents are called to be our children’s first teachers of the faith, to walk them into adulthood and their God-given purpose as disciples of Christ. The homes we create are meant to be their first schools of faith. In an age when Christian faith is less frequently nurtured in homes, we’re also called to point other parents and their children to Christ. Congregations, pastors and teachers build on the foundation of Christ learned in the home.
Parenting was a challenge for the Holy Family headed by Joseph and Mary. Take heart in the remembrance that they were called of God and given the grace necessary to fulfill their calling. So may it be for us today, as parents of all kinds: birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, godparents and parental figures.
Prayer: O Heavenly Father, bless our homes. Send your Holy Spirit to equip and encourage all parents as teachers and examples of Christian faith and Christ-like obedience. Turn our homes into schools of faith and discipleship. Encourage us in the times when parenting is difficult and family life is challenging. Give us a heart for the families that do not have Christ at their center and show us how to be models and companions to those who are new to the faith. That every home would become a school of Christian faith: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Pro-life action: How is your congregation equipping parents in making their homes into first schools of the Christian faith? The Holy Families Initiative of the North American Lutheran Church and Sola Publishing can help! For free resources ranging from daily family devotions to tips for all kinds of parenting situations and so much more, go to holyfamilytime.com.
Today’s devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, STS. Rev. Braasch volunteered as grant developer and initial project director of the Holy Families Initiative, a program funded by the Thrivent Foundation in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. She is a member of the NALC Life Ministries Team and pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Jackson Center, OH.
This year’s Advent devotions are written by the members of NALC Life Ministries. The devotional follows the daily Revised Common Lectionary for Advent and includes a Bible reading, commentary, prayer and pro-life action for every day until Christmas Eve.
As we move through the season of Advent, Scripture reveals the anxiety of an unplanned pregnancy, as Mary and Joseph ponder this miracle and seek to understand who this precious child might be. This devotional examines our responsibility to protect all human life in light of Mary and Joseph’s protection of Jesus, the savior of the world.
Our authors include Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Rev. Mark Chavez, Rev. Dr. Dennis Di Mauro, Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, Rev. Scott Licht, Rev. Sandra Towberman, Rev. Steve Shipman, Ms. Rebecka Andrae, Rev. Melinda Jones, Rev. David Nelson, Ms. Rosemary Johnson, Rev. Mark Werner and Rev. Steve Bliss.
Judges 9:22–33 (ESV)
The Downfall of Abimelech
22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 And the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way. And it was told to Abimelech.
26 And Gaal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his relatives, and the leaders of Shechem put confidence in him. 27 And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and reviled Abimelech. 28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29 Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’ ”
30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field. 33 Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.”
Psalm 149 (ESV)
Sing to the Lord a New Song
149 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
Acts 14:19–28 (ESV)
Paul Stoned at Lystra
19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria
24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.
We know that in 1513, when [Luther] began his lectures on the Psalms, he still operated with the fourfold sense of Scripture, the sensus literalis, allegoricus, tropologicus, and anagogicus, but that already in the course of his lectures he combined three of them into one and occasionally designated the sensus literalis as the sensus primarius scripturaebehind which the sensus tropologicus must retreat. In his lectures on Romans, 1515-1516, and on Galatians, 1516-1517, this view becomes increasingly evident, and after 1519 his exposition is entirely controlled by the principle: Scripture has but one meaning, even though in his practical explanations of the Scriptures he still oftentimes pays tribute to the allegorical sense. He now declares in his writing against Emser, “Scripture shall not have a double meaning but shall retain the one that accords with the meaning by the words,” and again, “The Holy Ghost is the most simple author and speaker in heaven and earth, therefore His words cannot have more than one, the most simple meaning.” In his Christmas Postil of 1522 he even writes, “If we concede that Scripture has more than one sense, it loses its fighting force.” (10)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.