Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Second Sunday after Christmas

Second Sunday after Christmas (C)
January 3, 2010
Text: Luke 2:40-50

Beloved in the Lord, Divine Wisdom incarnate enters His Temple, the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the Son of the Virgin. We behold here the mystery of the incarnation: God, the Son of God, who is the personification of Wisdom itself, grows in stature and wisdom and in favor with God and with man (Luke 2:40, 52). As God, He cannot grow, for He already is the pinnacle of all perfection. But as Man, in the state of humiliation, when He does not always and fully use His divine power, our Lord Jesus grows. He grows physically. He grows mentally and emotionally and spiritually. Thus the great paradox: He who is Wisdom grows in Wisdom. He who is God grows in the favor of God. And so it is that a twelve-year-old Jesus enters the Jerusalem Temple, His heavenly Father’s house, His own house in fact. Our true Passover Lamb comes to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. He enters the Temple and sits at the feet of the great teachers of Israel, this twelve-year-old boy in preparation for His bar mitzvah. He seeks to learn, but in fact He teaches the teachers. He has more understanding than all His teachers, for the testimonies of the Lord are all His meditation (Ps. 119:99). All who hear this boy are “amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47; ESV). He is already about His Father’s business, teaching the Scriptures to the teachers of the Scriptures, the Scriptures concerning Himself.

And so Divine Wisdom incarnate enters this house this morning, His Father’s house, His own house. He is the Temple of God, for the dwelling place of God with men is the flesh of Jesus Christ. And He has come to teach us, beloved. He has come to teach us the Scriptures concerning Himself. He has come to impart of Himself, to impart Divine Wisdom to us. He breathes it into us as the breath of life by His Holy Spirit through Scripture and liturgy and preaching and Sacrament. As we heard in our Catechism study this morning, through these means of grace, through the Gospel, the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Thus we ought to receive Divine Wisdom with great eagerness. We ought to listen with open ears and open hearts to the gracious Word our Lord here imparts along with His Spirit. We ought to be willing to pay any price, devote all our time and energy, travel from the farthest reaches, to hear this blessed Gospel of Wisdom. The party from Nazareth that included Jesus and His parents traveled many miles, on foot, over several days, to Jerusalem for the Feast, to participate in the Temple liturgy and eat the sacrificial meal. Some of us travel up to 20 or 30 or 40 minutes to hear and receive Christ’s gifts in the liturgy and Sacrament here in this place. And we don’t have to walk the whole way, like the pilgrims of old. We get to drive. What great grace God has given us that His Word and body and blood are so readily available.

Yes, Divine Wisdom is here, in the flesh. Jesus is here. He is here to teach us and to forgive our sins and to give us eternal life. Like Solomon in our Old Testament lesson (1 Kings 3:4-15), we ought to ask for nothing else than this Divine Wisdom: not riches, not power, not long life, not fame and honor, but let Divine Wisdom be enough for us. Let us seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, freely given to us by faith in Christ, and the rest will be added unto us. Yet we have this fallen, sinful human flesh always to contend with. And here is the rub, here is what continually prevents us from asking for and receiving Divine Wisdom: The Wisdom of God is foolishness to natural man! Here is what St. Paul says about the Wisdom of God: “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:22-25). The Wisdom of God is the Wisdom of the cross. The power of God is the weakness and suffering and humiliation of Christ crucified. And this is utter foolishness to our fallen human minds. We think we know better than God. We don’t want the God of the cross. We want the God of glory who smites His enemies and rewards His faithful with riches and power and honor and fame. We want a God who comes into His Temple as a triumphant King, not a God who allows the Temple of His body to be destroyed on Golgotha’s cross. But this is how the all-wise God operates in the world: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (vv. 27-31).

Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, is our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Yet we have so much trouble believing this because of this sinful flesh and its false expectations of who Christ is and what we think He should do. And then there is the peer pressure of the world that mocks our Lord Jesus Christ and His Christians as foolish and naïve. Even Mary and Joseph have a hard time believing the Wisdom of God. They thought they had lost their Son in Jerusalem. They should have known right where He would be. They should have known He would be in His Father’s house, about His Father’s business. Their problem is that they regard Jesus according to the wisdom of the world, and not the Wisdom of God. They regard Him as a simple twelve-year-old boy, not the Son of God. They should have trusted Him. And they should have sought Him in His Father’s house. And if we wish to be wise, we should seek Him in His Father’s house, too. For He has promised always to be here, in this house, about His Father’s business, teaching the Word of life, breathing out His good Spirit, imparting divine wisdom, forgiving sins.

Our Lord is ever about His Father’s business. That is what Mary and Joseph fail to understand. And we fail to understand it as well. He is always doing the work of our salvation. That is His Father’s business. The salvation of the world! He passes through all the stages of life as our substitute. He is conceived and born for us, to become one with us and to stand in for us before the Father. He grows in stature and wisdom for us. He is a twelve-year-old child for us. He perfectly fulfills the Law in our place. Our text even tells us how He fulfills the Fourth Commandment for us, to honor father and mother, for He is obedient, submissive, to Mary and Joseph according to our Gospel lesson (Luke 2:51). This should be a great comfort to all of us who have ever sinned against our parents. God counts Jesus’ obedience as our own! He fulfills the whole Law of God for us, every one of the Ten Commandments. And then He pays for our sin by His sacrificial death on the cross. “In him,” writes St. Paul, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:7). Approximately 21 years later, our Lord comes into Jerusalem again for the Passover Feast, this time to die. He is arrested, beaten, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the tree, and lifted up. Behold your God, naked, bleeding, dying for the sin of the world. Behold His side as it pours forth blood and water for the life of the Church. Hear His last and bitter cry as He gives up His Spirit. Behold Divine Wisdom. Behold Divine glory. Behold the culmination of Christmas. And in this way, He is victorious over sin and death and Satan and hell. For on the third day, God raises Him from the dead, the sure seal that Jesus’ sacrifice is accepted by God for our atonement. Behold how the Wisdom of God, which is foolishness to the world, accomplishes the salvation of mankind. And God exalts that Wisdom, Wisdom incarnate, to the right hand of the throne of God where Wisdom rules all things for the good of His people and is ever present with His Church in His Word and Sacrament.

We cannot understand this in our flesh, fallen as we are. But by the Spirit of God, by which our Lord imparts Wisdom, we can believe it, trust it, by faith, not by sight. And so He makes a beginning of Wisdom in us. We begin to understand, through the school of experience, enlightened by the Word of Christ, that the grace of the Lord Jesus is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), the weakness of the cross. Do you want to be truly wise? Behold the death of God on the cross. The fear of this Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). And receive this crucified God now risen from the dead here, in His Father’s house, where He has promised to be for you. Seek Him here. He will always be found here. And when you find Him, you will realize that it is, in fact, Divine Wisdom incarnate who found you. Beloved in the Lord, merry Christmas. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Blogger Aimee said...

I really enjoyed this and found great comfort in your words. Thank you.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Pastor Krenz said...

Thanks Aimee, great to hear from you! Please greet the family for me. We pray you're all well.
Peace and joy in Christ,

2:35 PM  

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