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FINDING PURPOSE IN LIFE (Luke 2:41-52) Intro Read Luke 2:41-52 Old Swede, Ole passed away.

y. His wife was asked what she would like his obituary to say. She replied, Just put, Ole died. The man was perplexed. You and Ole lived together 50 years and had a big family. Surely there is more youd like to say. The first five words are free. Lena replied, Okay. Put down, Ole died. Boat for sale. As we get serious about God in our lives, we realize God desires a bit more legacy for us than Ole died. Hes got a mission for each of us. Sometimes adversity strikes financial crisis, failed marriage, loss of a job and we wonder, now what? Sometimes we just need a mid-course correction. But it all leads to the continuing issue of finding and following Gods purpose for my life. Where is the GPS that will keep me on point? In this passage, Jesus at age 12 makes a startling discovery like no one else has ever made that illuminates His purpose for being. In the process, Luke shows us the characteristics of his life that led to this discovery of mission. I. He Was Humble in Spirit Jesus has been to Jerusalem with his parents for Passover. But, at the end of the first day of travel home, Jesus is missing. Then we come to v. 46: After three days (one out, one back, one looking) they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. What a relief it must have been to find Him save. And there He is sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Parents dream! The leading rabbis in Palestine. They would come out on feast days and teach the people. In typical rabbinical fashion, by question and answer dialogue with listeners sitting at their feet. Thats where they found Jesus. As a child, I pictured Jesus as a precocious kid teaching the scribes. Liked that idea! But Hes not the teacher; Hes the learner. In time He becomes the greatest discipler who ever lived. But before becoming a discipler, He was himself a disciple. Before becoming teacher, He was himself learner. He shows remarkable humility of spirit He was teachable, which is vitally important as we seek Gods intention for our life. We must be teachable by those God brings into our lives to disciple and teach and mentor us.
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God points us toward Himself in a variety of ways. Through the Word, teachers, circumstances friends, marriage partners. The question is, are we humble enough to hear Him? When we think we have a handle on it, we cant hear God speak. The first day I ever drove a tractor by myself I was six years old. Dad was still in the seat behind me, but I was in charge. He instructed me carefully, but I had seen it all before and was very sure of myself. We came to the point where we needed to turn off the lane and into the field, but there was a little ditch to get through first. Dad said, Hang on tight to the steering wheel. I thought, Ive got this. The front wheels dipped into the ditch and, of course, the impact pulled the steering wheel right out of my hand. It went whirling around as the front wheels were captured by the ditch. Thats how the wheel of our lives pulls away when we fail to hear God in lifes circumstances. Listening for God is a lifelong passion. Its one of the reasons I go to conferences and listen to other men of God. We never arrive, dear friends. Gods guidance comes to those who are teachable. I love how Paul, as he awaits execution, tells Timothy in II Tim 4:13, When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Here was a guy who had been given amazing revelations, a man who wrote 1/3 the NT, but even at the end he is saying, Bring me the books and the parchments. He wants to hear God. Are we teachable? Or have we arrived no longer listening for the voice of God through worship, teaching, good books and hard times. Humility amplifies His voice. II. He Was Hungry for the Word Jesus had a ravenous appetite for the Word of God. Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple. Why? Why not the playground? Because He wants to know Gods Word. Hes listening to the rabbis, asking them questions, and giving them answers that astonish them. See v. 47: And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. What a picture! Made all the more amazing because the elite in Jerusalem looked down their noses at Galileans, particularly those from Nazareth. Jesus accent alone would have given him away. Their first reaction would have been to sneer at this kid in the first place. Now He opens his mouth and -- Hes from Nazareth! Yet, Jesus participated fully in this opportunity, and they soon forgot his accent because his insight was brilliant. Well, so Jesus as God; naturally He would be super-intelligent, right? But remember, He lived on earth thru His human nature. The brilliance he demonstrated was a result of time spent in the
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Word, not of His divine nature. He had devoured the Word, and He was there for more. Now pause and think for a moment. Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, wanted to study the written word with people who knew the word. Jesus studied the Word? What does that tell you? Maybe you and I need to study the Word? Do you think? Peter commanded in I Peter 2:2, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. Do you long for the Word? John Piper was a Bible prof at Bethel Seminary. In 1981, he went to pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He said this: In my six years of full time teaching, I have found that only about one person in ten really wants to understand more of God than they already know. Know why we dont know God? Its because we dont know His Word. If Jesus needed the Word, dont you think we need it? We may lack appetite, but we have to take responsibility for that. If we lack interest and commitment, we can assume the fault is ours, not that of the Word. If you lack appetite, take in the aroma. What happens when you smell fried chicken? Cant wait to get some, right? Do the same with Gods Word. Find some teaching that stimulates you get into a Bible study find a teacher you relate to and expose yourself to the wonder of the Word until you begin to long for it. A life not spent in the Book is a wasted life. Jesus needed it; so do we. III. He Was Sure of His Identity Here is Lukes main message. At age 12, Jesus knew who He was. Thats why this passage is here. That sounds simple, but it is quite profound. Think with me. V. 40 tells us Jesus grew in wisdom. V. 52 says, And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature. Weve no problem thinking of Jesus growing physically. It just seems natural given He started as a baby. But now try to wrap your arms around the fact that He grew in wisdom. Right away our minds boggle because we know that He is both fully God and fully man. And as fully God He is omniscient, right? He knows everything. But this passage is telling us that He grew in wisdom. The omniscient one got smarter! What is going on? Luke is telling us that Jesus lived His earthly life completely through His human nature. Paul says in Phil 2:7: but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Of what did Jesus empty Himself? Of being God? No, that would
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be impossible and in the previous verse, Paul has emphasized that Jesus kept right on being God. But He emptied himself of acting as God. He emptied Himself of using His godly attributes. Thus he had to grow up physically, just like any normal child. And He had to grow mentally just like any normal child. He started with zero knowledge and gradually gained wisdom as He went along. Are you with me? At the beginning, Jesus knew nothing. So, the big question when and how did Jesus come to realize He was the Messiah, and more than that, that He was God? Did you know there was a time when He did not know that; that He had to discover it? And this passage of Scripture is letting us know that by age 12, Jesus knew. Did He come to that conclusion on this very trip to Jerusalem? Perhaps. But whenever He knew, its clear why He was driven to find out all that He could about His mission, about what He was to do with His life. It is staggering to think of Jesus in these terms, is it not? But thats what this passage is about. Now how did He make the discovery of His identity? We are not told, but we can infer two things. First, Mary and Joseph had shared with Him the circumstances surrounding His birth. Its uniqueness signaled something of His identity. And that, in turn, pointed Him to the OT to find everything He could about the Messiah, because He realized that He was the One. Wow. There is no question that He knew the OT and knew that it spoke of Him. In a sermon in His home town of Nazareth, (Luke 4) He reads a prophecy about Messiah from Isa 61 and then stuns his audience by saying in v. 21, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. He had found Himself in the OT. In Luke 24, after His resurrection, He meets the two discouraged disciples heading home to Emmaus. They dont recognize him, so it says in v. 27, And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. The terms Moses, the Prophets and the Scriptures refer to the threefold division in the Jewish OT and this tells us that Jesus saw Himself everywhere in the OT. He had figured it out. And I believe He knew a lot of it by age 12. No wonder He was driven to learn all He could about the Bible, right? He was all over it. He had found there the key to who He was. And thats where youll find out who you are in Christ. Now v. 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
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Fathers house? That looks innocent, doesnt it? But this is also profound. A literal translation of His second comment is, Did you not know that it is necessary for me to be about the things of the Father of me. Most commentators, like the ESV translation, think He is saying that He had to be in His Fathers house. Others translate He had to be about His Fathers business. Either is grammatically possible. But why is the phrase significant? First, the phrase it is necessary. Jesus is hinting that Mary and Joseph should have been aware that He would be compelled to be seeking Gods direction in His life. It wasnt an option; it was an imperative. But look at His use of the word Father. Mary has just said, Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress. Jesus in essence replies, My Father has not been seeking me. I have been with Him the whole time. I had to be about His affairs in His house. Id have thought you would have known that. He is not disowning Joseph. But He knows He has obligations that far exceed those of Mary and Josephs home. His greatest priority is to His heavenly Father. He knows who He is. He is the Son -- of God. Remember, Mary is Lukes source of this story, and as she thinks back, she remembers Jesus saying in essence, Mom, dont you know who my Father is? Dont you know that I had to be in my real Fathers house? Dont you know that I treasure my Father more than I treasure food? Dont you know that I wanted to commune with Him in His word? Why did you have to look for me? You ought to have known where I was becauseMom! Angels told you who I am! Angels told you who my Father is! I love you, Mom; I love you, Dad. But I had to be with My Father. Why is that so hard for you to understand? We are so used to thinking of Jesus as the Son of God that the impact of His comment is lost on us. In the whole of the OT, 39 books, God is referred to as Father only 14 times always impersonally and always with reference to the nation of Israel. No one referred to God as his Father. Furthermore, not Moses who built the tabernacle, nor David who longed to build a temple, nor Solomon who actually built it not the most exalted prophet or priest ever referred to the temple as my Fathers house. These teachers knew that. And yet, in the very first recorded words out of the mouth of Jesus He refers to God as His Father. The intimacy of the term was astounding. Furthermore, in v. 49 when Jesus speaks of God being his Father He adds the little word the the Father of me. However, whenever He speaks of God being the Father of anyone else, He never uses the little word the. Finally, every time Jesus ever speaks of God, He always speaks of Him as
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His Father all except once when on the cross He says, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. Jesus is here claiming a relationship with God that none had conceived of, let alone expressed, before. He is anticipating the ongoing claim, I and the Father are one. (John 10:30). By His very first recorded words He is claiming no less that to be one with God the Father. And it was that lifelong claim that eventually got Him killed, though no truer words were ever spoken. By age 12, Jesus, through His devotion to the Word, had a firm grasp on who He was and what He was about. And, Beloved, if we are to accomplish the mission of God for our lives, we must be no less devoted to the Word. We must be reassured of our own Sonship with the Father not as possessing deity, but as a fellow-heir, adopted into the family by the blood of Jesus Christ. Knowing we are to holy as our Father is holy. We must know who we are if we are to accomplish that for which we were made. IV. He Was Submissive to Authority The final principle for finding lifes purpose the principle of submission. How our generation hates this word. We want to do it my way. We have been brainwashed into thinking that submission to authority is a sign of weakness. My 60s generation in particular grew up with the matra that authority is bad. And all the time God is calling us to submission, first and foremost to Him, but also to the human authorities that He has put into our lives. They are the human means by which He is working out His purposes, and every act of rebellion sets us back in fulfilling our destiny. This is all part of Gods GPS for our lives. Jesus has discovered that He is both Messiah and One with the Father He is God. Furthermore, according to v. 50, And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. They still did not get Him. They knew He was special, but this God is my Father business was too much. Yet, look at v. 51, And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. Jesus, knowing now that He was God, tho his earthly parents didnt get it, still put Himself under their authority. Why? Because the Word told Him to honor His father and his mother, right? He was obedient to the Word. In submission to God and the authorities that God had put into His life. Now, it is not just children who are called upon to submit to their parents. That same word is used in Ephesians 5:22 to instruct wives to submit to their
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own husbands. It is used in Rom 13:1 to instruct every believer to submit to governmental authorities. It is used in Heb 13:17 to instruct the congregation to submit to their leaders. And, it is used in Eph 5:21 to instruct every believer to submit to every other believer. The Christian life is a life of submission. And any worthwhile ministry is based on the same. We can never have Gods best without submitting to His authorities in our lives. But the example of Jesus takes this submission to a whole new level, does it not? It shows us that it is not based on spiritual superiority. Jesus now knew Himself to be God in the flesh. It cannot have escaped Him that He was living a sinless life while all around Him parents included were sinners. Yet He was in submission to them. Rebellion is not excused because we feel ourselves to be spiritually superior. Conc Wouldnt it be tragic if the best thing people could say at the end of your life is Ole died. Wouldnt it? On April 20, 2009, I arrived in Chicago on an American flight. As the door opened, just after the plane had pulled into the gate, an attendant came on board to and announced the following: "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Chicago, home of the 1908 World Champion Chicago Cubs." Talk about living in the past! But it makes me wonder, how many of us will arrive in heaven one day only to hear, Here is Joe Blow or Susie Sunshine. They accepted Jesus as Savior 50 years ago, but their life after that didnt amount to a hill of beans. Or worse yet to hear, they thought they accepted Christ, but it was only an illusion. They never really gave their heart to Him. Listen, God has a mission for every life. Do you know what yours is? Are you fulfilling it? Is it your greatest joy, or is there something more temporal that occupies your time an attention? How do you find it? Like Jesus did? By being humble in spirit, hungering for the Word, finding your identity in Him and submitting to the authorities that God has put into your life. God bless you as you seek His blessing and His plan for your life. Lets pray.