HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, January 16, 2022
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “The God-Boy”
Texts – Matthew 2:7-8, 12-16, 19-23; Matt. 13:55-56; Mark 3:20-21; John 7:1-5; Luke 2:41-52
Having just come through the Christmas season, the story of Jesus’ birth is fresh in our minds. And many of us could also share a number of details from his life as an adult. But what do we know of his childhood or his teen years…what can we learn of Jesus’ life between infancy until he began his ministry at the age of thirty? You might assume that’s an empty chapter in the life of Jesus, but on closer inspection there are some things we can know about Jesus as the God-boy.
Today, we’re going to begin with one of the stories that often marks the end of the Christmas story narrative…that of the wisemen and King Herod.
Matthew 2:7-8, 12-16, 19-23 – “7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”…
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. 13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
16 Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance….
19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”
21 So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22 But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. 23 So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
After spending the earliest part of his life in Bethlehem as a baby, Jesus’ family was forced to flee to Egypt when he was a toddler. Jesus was a child with a price on his head. And his life resulted in the murder of all the two-year-old boys and younger in and around Bethlehem as Herod attempted to eliminate him as a rival to his throne.
But he escaped Herod’s massacre when Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt. As a result, Jesus spent part of his formative years as a refugee in a foreign country. As to how long he lived in Egypt with Mary and Joseph, there is room for debate. Scholars cannot agree, with some suggesting Jesus was in Egypt from 4 months to 4 years or more. The difficulty arises because we don’t know the exact year of Jesus birth, how long after the wise men came or even the exact timing of Herod’s death. But regardless of how long the family lived in Egypt or how old Jesus was when they returned, they lived for a time as refugees forced to leave their homeland to escape the murderous machinations of the ever-paranoid and power-hungry King Herod.
But when they returned to their homeland, they couldn’t just settle anywhere either…Herod’s son now sat on the throne. Joseph was concerned this could spell trouble and God confirmed to him in a dream that he should steer clear of the province of Judea; so, Joseph took the family back to the place that he had been living when he had first met Mary, back to her hometown of Nazareth. In some respects, Nazareth was perfect. It was out of the way and Jesus and their other children would grow up surrounded by family, with cousins to play with, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
But their return did not mean the family would necessarily be welcomed back with open arms. People tend to have long memories when it comes to the moral failures of others, and even though Mary and Joseph knew the truth of Jesus’ conception, many others, even if told, would not have believed them. I have no doubt that Jesus and his immediate family would have experienced their fair share of sideways glances and gossip behind their backs at least for a time.
However, I am also certain that over time, people would have grown accustomed to having them back and the gossip would have subsided. Over the years the family grew as Mary and Joseph had more children and Jesus would have assumed the role of big brother.
I must admit, growing up in the church that I did, I had no real clue about Jesus’ siblings. They were never talked about much and they were for all intents and purposes non-characters. But Jesus did grow up in a large family and as we all know, there is a difference between growing up as an only child and one of many. So, what do we know of his family?
Matthew 13:55-56 – “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?”
During Jesus’ years of ministry, people flocked to be near him, listen to his teaching and to receive healing…except in his own hometown. To them, he was just the carpenter’s son; how could he possibly know what he was talking about when he taught from Scripture and about God. Everyone knew he had four brothers and at least two sisters, though from the phrase, “all his sisters’ Jesus probably had three or more sisters and not just two. But is there anything else we know about his family? We can find clues from his years of ministry, too.
Mark 3:20-21 – “20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.”
Not only did Jesus’ hometown think he was just an ordinary guy, so did his family. At the height of his ministry, when the crowds were coming in non-stop droves, his immediate family were not supportive. In fact, they thought he’d gone crazy…he’s delusional…he’s given himself a breakdown…he’s out of control…he needs to be taken in hand!
In the past, I always wondered if Jesus’ response to the arrival of his mother and brothers wasn’t a bit too harsh. Matthew’s account of this scene doesn’t include the fact that his family was coming to stop him and steal him away. But when I put Mark’s account together with it, Jesus’ response to the news that his family had arrived and wanted to speak to him outside of the house makes sense. He rejects their request. He asked ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? …Anyone who does the will of my Father is my true family!’ He was saying, without directly saying it, that if his immediate family couldn’t get on board, they weren’t really his family at all, not in the way that mattered. We aren’t told how they responded, but his declaration must have stung.
John also records an interaction between Jesus and his brothers that definitely points to the existence of some friction amongst the family.
John 7:1-5 – “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
Jesus had refused to be corralled by his family and even disassociated from them when he identified those who believed in him as his true family. So, the next time his brothers show up in the story, it is therefore not all that surprising that they chose to taunt him…who did he think he was? What made him more special than the rest of his family? If he could reject them, they could return the favour!
Certainly, Jesus had always been the ‘good son,’ but rather than causing his brothers to believe in him, his familiarity caused them to reject that he could be anything more than just another brother. Their jealousy and misunderstanding threatened to cause a rift in their relationship with him. He couldn’t possibly be who he claimed to be…he was just Jesus.
Even if not every member of his family was convinced, Jesus was certain, even as a child, of his identity and mission. Which brings us to the only story from Jesus’ childhood recorded by the Gospel writers (after their return from Egypt) concerning an incident that took place when Jesus was just a pre-teen at the age of twelve.
“SON OF GOD”
Luke 2:41-52 – “41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
How did he get ‘lost?’ Probably through a miscommunication, or someone only half paying attention to what they were being told…it happens…even in Jesus’ family. So, Mary and Joseph leave the city with the remainder of their immediate and extended family and don’t even realize that Jesus hasn’t been hanging around with cousins, brothers and/or friends until the end of the day. They immediately return to Jerusalem, but don’t find him until after three days of searching. He’s been at the Temple the whole time.
Jesus was not a kid that parents had to drag to church. He wanted to be in the Temple. He recognized it both as the house of his Father and the place to gain more understanding. [For those of you who joined us last week, this is another oxymoron of the God-man—all knowing God, needing to learn!] They find him asking questions, listening and engaging with the responses given. He demonstrated a level of understanding of God and his Laws not commonly found in a twelve-year-old.
From this we can know that Jesus was an intelligent child, able to understand and make inferences, and unafraid to hangout with adults and religious leaders. He was comfortable in his own skin—not always the case for a pre-teen as they enter into puberty.
By the time his parents found him, they had become panicky and flustered. Mary accused Jesus of having caused them to worry and even implied that he had disrespected them when she demanded, “Why have you treated your father and I this way?” His response was unperturbed and a bit of a reality check for her, “Why were you looking? It should have been obvious to you where I would be.” But, even though they knew the origins of his conception, his answer left them confused.
Even Jesus’ parents, who knew he was the promised Messiah, just didn’t get it. How did Jesus respond? Not in stereotypical rebellious teen fashion! John tells us that he submitted to them, returned to Nazareth and continued to be a ‘good son’…growing both physically, earning a good reputation amongst his neighbours and growing closer to God.
For further study…
Enduring Word Commentary (Philippians 2) - https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/philippians-2/
Sunday, January 23, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry”
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!