JESUS: BABY AND BOY
READING: Luke 2 verses 25-33, 40-52
- I was a beautiful baby once!
- Some babies are rather ordinary…or even ugly!
- But to mum, dad and the grandparents, their baby is the most adorable and beautiful in the world
Every baby is special and unique
- There is a messy side of course… And babies can’t tell the time!
- And babies have a strange habit of deciding to be sick all over daddy’s shoulder just before he goes to work!
BUT JESUS GAVE ADDED DIGNITY TO BEING A BABY… because that is how He entered our world
Rather like a snowflake, no two babies are completely identical, not even identical twins!
AND BABY JESUS WAS EXTRA SPECIALLY UNIQUE
- Conceived by the Holy Spirit of God
- Recognised by John the Baptist, even though John and Jesus were still in their mothers’ wombs!
- Recognised after his birth by Simeon and Anna in the Temple
THERE WERE also many PROPHECIES concerning this baby… and if that isn’t unique, it’s hard to think what is!
The baby Jesus had a mission
- Simeon said he was now willing to die because he had seen the Lord’s salvation…the Saviour… so something profound was happening!
Jesus wasn’t just another lovely baby… but an integral part of God’s eternal plan of salvation for the world
GOD HAS A PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR EVERY BABY…every person
- But we are capable of thwarting His plan for our lives
- He doesn’t impose His will but invites us to accept and embrace it
His plan may not be what we have in mind…
- We want to grow up healthy in a stable family… meet good-looking partner … get married… have gorgeous children… live peaceably… have sufficient money… enjoy a reasonable standard of living… die quietly in our sleep at a good old age
- God may ask us to accept the difficult narrow road…and some people’s road in life is a lot more difficult and narrow than others
- His plan for Jesus was that He should die for the sins of the world… the toughest road of all
But whatever the circumstances, we can be assured that when God is in control, there is nothing to fear
Babies grow up
- Have you been to a family wedding or funeral lately? Everyone looks so much older (except for you, of course!)
- Jesus wasn’t any different…he grew up
We don’t know much about Jesus’ early childhood… it’s shrouded in mystery…
- He would certainly have spent a lot of time helping his father… and being a role model for his younger brothers and sisters
YET THERE WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT and UNIQUE ABOUT HIM
- In Luke 2 verse 40: And the child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him
OH THAT THE SAME COULD BE SAID OF YOU AND I
And what of the children we influence?
- Someone has commented that children are strongly influenced by the way we act and behave…and relatively little by what we say
It appears that Mary and Joseph did not recognise who Jesus was…despite the words of the angel to Mary prior to Jesus’ birth… and living with Him for years!
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE CAN LIVE CLOSE TO JESUS AND YET FAIL TO RECOGNISE HIM FOR WHO HE IS?
- Praying in His name… singing songs about Him
- Using His name to describe our allegiance…Christians!
- And mixing with other people who follow Him
Yet somehow having a view of Jesus that keeps Him as a babe in the manger… or presents Him to the world as a bearded figure in a white nightie who is somehow detached from the real world?
YET THE REALITY ABOUT JESUS IS SO DIFFERENT from the stereotype…
- He tramped the dusty paths and hills of Galilee… His clothes were definitely not snow-white!
- He knelt in prayer for hours… his knees would be callused
- He overturned tables in the temple courtyard… his hair would have become dishevelled… his cheeks flushed
- He faced crowds intent on throwing him from the top of a cliff… stood up to the most powerful men in the land… spoke to thousands scattered across the hillside… endured storms, hunger, abuse, false accusation… sneers, scourging, crucifixion…
AND HE SAID THAT HIS FOLLOWERS MUST BE WILLING to endure privations, suffering, persecution… they may not have to but should be willing to do so
It is also possible to misrepresent Jesus through our words and actions … lack of conviction… failure to witness… compromise
Why does the world look upon us, the church of Christ, as largely irrelevant, quaint and harmless?
WE SHOULD NOT BE HARMLESS… except in the sense that we are gentle and loving in our actions towards the needy and poor…
Jesus was not and is not harmless… He was and is a life-transformer by His Spirit!
- And we have a responsibility to be “dangerous”… different … supernatural beings… throughout the coming year and beyond
Jesus went on holiday with his mum and dad
- Perhaps today he would have gone to Youth Camp! Imagine that!
The average 12-year old is not always satisfied with the parents’ choice of holiday venue…
- Mum and Dad want a quiet place to chill out… 12-year olds want noise, colour, excitement, free-fall slides and wacky things to do…
For Jesus’ family, the trip to Jerusalem had great religious and cultural significance… but that doesn’t mean that Jesus was particularly enamoured with it!
Perhaps he was bored… like so many of our youngsters are with church today (alas!)
- No doubt there was plenty going on… singing, dancing, feasting… but the children would have had to go to bed early while the adults had fun!
AND IN ALL THE EXCITEMENT OF ‘BEING OBEDIENT’ to the religious requirements… Mary and Joseph took their eyes off the One who was the embodiment of God on earth… the Saviour of the world!
So easy for us to do…
- We can get so busy serving God that we never have the time to get close to Him… so in the end, we become detached from the One we are serving
Everything is rush, rush… dashing from this to that… commitments overlapping… pressure, pressure…
- We console ourselves that we are active in the Lord’s service … too active, perhaps!
- Of course not everyone is like this… and perhaps those who are too busy would not be under so much pressure if we all played our part instead of standing back… (and in the worst cases, criticising those who are involved)
SO EASY TO ASSUME THAT WE ARE WALKING IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST…
- After all, we are church-goers…committed Christians… Bible-believing… praying… filled with the Spirit (well, sort of!)
MARY & JOSEPH WERE HALF-WAY HOME…AND DID NOT EVEN REALISE THAT JESUS WAS NOT WITH THEM
Half-way home…. Could it be that those in their middle and autumn years are most at risk here?
- Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His word?
Let’s make sure that we end well
Mary and Joseph looked in the wrong place for Jesus
- They searched among their relatives and friends… it’s good to find Jesus there… what a blessing to have a Christian upbringing… godly friends…
- But we need to be careful that we don’t assume that their faith is our faith… that their testimony is our testimony
- Or that we do things purely because this is the only life we have known (particularly as children in a Christian home)
- Accepting truth because we have been taught it (brilliant!) but never moving on from there to explore the deeper things of the Spirit for ourselves, apart from our parents
So Mary and Joseph WENT BACK TO JERUSALEM… just as we sometimes need to ‘go back’ and re-discover what first excited us about the Son of God
When they found him (after 3 days!) they were amazed
- The son of a humble carpenter… was in the Temple talking with the most learned men in the land… the academic elite!
- Mary and Joseph, understandably distraught, ask Jesus the obvious question: Where have you been?
- And Jesus sets the tone for his future ministry by asking them a question by way of reply: Why are you so surprised?
- But they were surprised…even after spending the last 12 years sharing their lives with him!
THEY COULD ACCEPT THAT JESUS WAS SPECIAL… very special… but what they were now observing and being asked to believe was almost too much to take on board!
AND IT IS JUST POSSIBLE THAT WE’RE THE SAME… accepting the Christ-child… believing that He was amazing… perhaps even believing that He was and is the Saviour of the world AND YET….
WE BELIEVE JESUS IS SPECIAL… but not that special… or we would trust Him more fully and obey Him more willingly!
- A passive Jesus… a sweet Jesus… an undemanding Jesus…
That’s NO PROBLEM
- A tough Jesus… a straight-taking Jesus… a Jesus who asks us to serve Him without reservation… CAN CAUSE US TO HESITATE!
The way we present Jesus Christ to the world reflects the way we acknowledge Him in our own lives
- If we present Him as no one special, little wonder the world glances our way… sees nothing to get excited about… shrugs its shoulders and looks elsewhere for fulfilment
- If we present Him for who He is, the world might reject Him but cannot ignore Him
- Simeon and Anna recognised who Jesus was… and publicly acknowledged the fact
- No half-measures… no embarrassment… no casual encounter… no watering down the truth for popular consumption… no doubt whatsoever:
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel