Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. His Mother kept all these sayings in her heart. Do these words jump out at you whenever you hear Luke 2? We’ve been hearing this chapter for 2 weeks now. We heard the story of Jesus’ Birth on Christmas, and of His Circumcision on New Year’s Day. We heard what Simeon had to say to Mary about Him last Sunday, and today we hear all we know about Him as a youth. Mary kept all these sayings in her heart. She pondered them and handed them down to us. Luke says at the beginning of His Gospel that he interviewed the eyewitnesses to get the stories, so many people think his source is Mary herself.
But the Mary we see at first today does not sound much like the Mary who was in the stable or the Mary who left the temple. We see a Mary wandering all over that place not acting like herself. She can’t find her Son! Perhaps there was a time when your child was lost, when you didn’t know where they were. You can put yourself in her shoes and understand what she’s going through. After all, her Son was lost in the big city!
They had a pious custom, a custom the Law encouraged. Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. They went up to the Temple to celebrate God’s great deliverance. He rescued His people Israel from Egypt. He freed them from bondage to slavery. He led them across the Red Sea to free them from Pharaoh’s hot pursuit. He brought them into that land and established them there and ruled them through His servant David.
What they may not have realized was the great importance this day would have to the Child. A lamb was roasted on that Passover night, a male lamb without blemish or defect, roasted on a cross over a fire. Its flesh was eaten and its blood was painted on the door frames by making the sign of the cross with the paintbrush. And the angel of death passed over. They may not have realized, but the Child might have, that this was a picture of what He was born to do.
So they went, year after year. And now He was 12 years old, finally old enough to go. He’d been waiting for this day for 12 years. It had been that long since He had entered His Temple, as you heard last week. Now He entered it again. The Glory of God finally sat enthroned in His Temple once more. But He did not sit enthroned as spirit upon the Ark. The Ark was gone, but He was there, in the flesh. He was no longer surrounded by cherubim statuary, though I suspect the real-life ones were there, but He was surrounded by Israel’s teachers, men who had known Simeon. But they had forgotten what He had told them about this Child. So they were amazed when He appeared among them and talked like no other child! “Behold, His dominion endureth forever!”
Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph were clueless. They went to Jerusalem in a caravan of people they knew and were related to from Nazareth, and they went back with that caravan. They figured Jesus was with some of them. It never occurred to them to make sure He was with them. It also never occurred to them that He might want to stay at the Temple longer. Joseph was His legal father, but had they forgotten God is His true Father? So it took them a day to even think about looking for Him, and then they flittered around Jerusalem for 3 days looking for Him, thinking He was a normal Child off exploring. They never once thought to look for Him at the place that had been His address from when David brought the tabernacle to Jerusalem to the time soon before the first temple was destroyed.
Finally they went to the Temple. And they were amazed when they saw and heard Him. In that amazement she lashed out with the first thing that came to mind. She was exhausted, desperate, tired, human. He was Divine in His response. “For what reason were you seeking me? Did you not know that I must be among My Father’s things?”
For what reason were they seeking Him? They had chosen the wrong one? Weren’t they supposed to watch out for Him? Weren’t they supposed to take care of Him? Yet it wasn’t a problem that they had been bad parents that week by leaving Him behind? The only problem was just that they didn’t go back to the Temple right away or just stay there in the first place? Were they supposed to look for Him for another reason? What might that be?
Why do people seek God? What do they seek from Him? So often isn’t it true that we just seek Him out for the stuff we just want? We seek Him out to get Him to give us the new toy, the best house or car or boat, the top job. We seek God for what we want, and when we don’t get it we pout and say “I don’t need You anyway” or “I didn’t think He’d come through anyway” or “I guess I’ll just have to go out and get it my way.”
So then the question has to be asked: Are we really looking for God when we go after Him for the wrong things? No, we aren’t. We’re looking for a god fashioned in our own image who will do for us whatever we want. That is not the true God. He is not something we can control. He is too powerful for that. He’s also not something we can change into whatever we want it to be. He made us, not the other way around.
So why should we seek Him? Who should we seek? We should seek God for His blessings, but why should we seek Him out for them? Because He loves us. There is no God but the one Who gave Himself up for us on The Cross. Seek Him for His salvation. That’s why He is come. God’s Son is born of Mary to go to Jerusalem 21 years later for one last Passover. On that day He will outdo what He did in Egypt. For on His Cross He will rid the world not of some foreign government but of sin and death. The Passover pointed to that day. He is The Lamb of God pure and holy, Who on The Cross did suffer. That Blood has been poured over you in Holy Baptism so you can sing: “See, His Blood doth mark our door, Faith points to it, Death passes o’er, And Satan cannot harm us!” TLH 195:3) You eat His Body and drink His Blood, and faith receives what He promises: eternal life with the forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and the devil, and the ability to do what God commands.
So seek The Lord where He may be found. Seek Him in His Word. That’s where He is found, not in nature, or in human thoughts and ideas. The star led the Magi to God’s Word. That led them to Bethlehem. Jesus points you to His Word. Seek Him there. Seek Him there to perceive and know what things you ought to do. Seek Him there that you may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same. Seek Him in His Word, because that’s where He tells you why He has come and what He has done for you. Seek Him there, for there He reveals to you not an angry God, but His Father’s loving embrace, an embrace pictured by His hands pierced with nails on The Cross for you. Seek Him there, and you shall find Him. Seek Him there and then you will serve Him with gladness. For gladness is given you by the wondrous thing the immortal Son of God did by dying. Seek Him there, and then you too shall say: “On a throne, high and lifted up, I saw a Man sitting, Whom the multitude of angels adores, singing together: Behold, His dominion endureth forever.”