“Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
We’ve come to that time in the year again when people are talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Have you made any yet, for the year ahead? Where did making New Year’s Resolutions come from anyway? It actually started a long time ago, in the nation of Babylon. They always ended the year by resolving to do things that they should’ve done the year before. Their resolutions were simpler, and easier to keep, than the ones we make today: an example you might hear would be, I resolve to return the farm equipment I borrowed last month.
Today, we make resolutions about losing weight, exercising more, spending more time with family, things that sound good, but are hard to keep. What’re your New Year’s resolutions? This morning, a twelve-year-old boy is going to teach us a new year’s resolution, a seventh grader. Today, in our Gospel lesson, Jesus speaks to us and the lesson He teaches us is probably one of the best new year’s resolutions you could make for the year 2022. Let’s see what that is.
Our Gospel lesson describes Mary and Joseph as a very devout family, every year they would travel to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. As a twelve-year-old, Jesus went with them, and there they spent the week, as was their custom.
Afterwards, Mary and Joseph start for home, to Nazareth. Now remember, back then, walking was the main mode of transportation. Often, people would travel in big groups, because it was safer, and the time went by faster. I can picture Mary and Joseph traveling with their extended family, friends, and fellow Jews who lived up north. In groups like these, the adults would often walk together, and the children would separate into their own group to play and do other things, just as children do today. It was a three-day walk back to Nazareth, and so on the first night of their trip back home, Mary and Joseph set up camp and looked for Jesus among the group. But they couldn’t find Him. He wasn’t with the other children. He wasn’t with their relatives, their friends. Jesus was missing. He was gone, without a trace.
If you were a parent, and you couldn’t find your child, you’d probably start to panic and rightly so. There are all kinds of bad reasons why children go missing. Mary and Joseph were very upset, and so they returned to Jerusalem, and looked for Him for three days. All kinds of questions, I’m sure, were racing through their minds, questions like, Is He lost? Has He been abducted? Is He alive? Is He hurt? Finally, we are told, they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. I can also picture Mary and Joseph coming around the corner and there’s Jesus, the twelve-year old boy, interacting with the teachers at the temple. We’re told in verse 47 that everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.
And then, Mary scolded Jesus by saying, Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. But Jesus, the twelve-year-old boy, doesn’t respond by saying, I’m sorry. Instead, He teaches His parents something that they didn’t expect to learn that day. He says in verse 49: Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?
Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. What does that mean, that Jesus “had to be about His Father’s business?” You see, even at the young age of twelve, Jesus knew that He wasn’t just the son of Mary. He was the Son of God. And even at a young age, Jesus knew that His purpose in life was not just to play and be a good son and grow up. He knew that He was on this earth for a greater purpose, He had a divine mission to fulfill, to be the Savior of all mankind. And part of that mission was spending time in God’s Word, listening to the teachers, asking them questions, filling Himself with the words and promises of God that are found in the Scripture. That was His Father’s business. It’s important that He came up missing from the group returning to Nazareth.
Ultimately, this twelve-year old boy would grow up to become the greatest teacher the Jews had ever known, carrying out His Father’s business. But even more importantly, Jesus would someday be about His Father’s business by dying on a cross. That was His ultimate mission in life, to be the Savior of all mankind. Yes, He was still a good son to His parents. The Bible says that Jesus returned home after that day and obeyed His mother and father. But He had a greater mission, a more important, divine mission, to be about His Father’s business as the Savior of the world. That was His number one priority.
Do you realize that you have a divine mission in your life? You’re not just here to work, pay bills, raise kids, socialize, work more, pay more bills, etc. That really isn’t why God has placed you on this planet. You have a greater purpose, a deeper purpose – and that is to be about your Father’s business. That’s why you’re here. God’s business can be summed up in five words that are printed out for you in your service folder. Why are you here? First and foremost, to HEAR the Word of God. God wants that to be a big part of your life. And as you hear the Word of God, God’s business includes that you CONFESS your sins. God’s business also means that you RECEIVE the forgiveness of sins from Christ. As that happens, you also receive the Holy Spirit, who CHANGES you for the better. And as you change, you grow into a person who GLORIFIES God in the way you live your life. That’s God’s business – to HEAR his Word, to CONFESS your sins, to RECEIVE Christ’s forgiveness, to CHANGE for the better, and to GLORIFY God. That’s why God has placed you on this earth – to be about your Father’s business.
Has that been a priority for you in 2021? Or, like many people today, do you say, I’m too busy to do that sort of thing regularly. I have too many other things to do. Is God’s business for you a priority, or is it something you do only if you have nothing else going on in your life? For Jesus, it was so important, that he “came up missing.” Are you willing to “come up missing” because you are busy going about your Father’s business?
I was glad to hear that some of our members this past Christmas Eve decided to come up missing from Christmas Eve family gatherings. That’s a difficult thing to do. They rearranged things so that they could hear the Word of God and worship Christ on Christmas. That’s what happens, when you “go about your Father’s business”, sometimes, you come up missing, the family gathering has to wait while the Word of God comes first.
Was that you, in 2021? What about sports, in 2021, were you willing to sacrifice sports, rearrange your schedule, sometimes come up missing from a sporting event, so that you could go about your Father’s business? Or, in 2021, did you push the Word of God to the side? Something had to give, and so you sacrificed your Father’s business. That’s idolatry, you know. Was that you in 2021? Or what about work? What about those projects at home? Were they first? Or was your Father’s business first?
This morning, I would like to recommend a New Year’s resolution to you, and that’s to make God’s Word, your Heavenly Father’s business, top priority in 2022. It all starts with confessing your sins to your Heavenly Father. Don’t hesitate, look back on the year 2021 and confess all your sins to God, confess all the times you’ve let your Heavenly Father’s business go by the wayside so that you could chase the things of this world.
Confess, and then what, look at your sheet, confess, and then receive forgiveness from Christ for all of your sins. Do you realize that Jesus Christ has already paid for all of your sins on the cross? They’ve been washed away by His blood. You’re completely forgiven in the eyes of God. Receive Christ’s free forgiveness, and then let the Holy Spirit change you for the better. As you receive Christ’s forgiveness, the Holy Spirit will change you, more and more, into a person who makes God’s Word a top priority in your life. And then you will be about God’s business, God’s Word, in 2022, let that be your priority. It’s possible to be a family man, and to have God’s Word as a priority. Actually, you’ll be a better family man. It’s still possible to be involved in sports, to work lots of hours, to complete all kinds of projects at home, it’s possible to do all kinds of things, AND to have God’s business be the top priority. That does mean that at times, you’ll have to sacrifice something, or put off something. At times, you may have to “come up missing” from something. Put God’s business, God’s Word first, in 2022. And you’ll be blessed, much more blessed than someone who throws it by the wayside because he is “too busy.”
Someone once said that a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t. God’s business, God’s Word, here you find Christ, born on Christmas, for the sole purpose of taking away your sins. Here you see Him dying on the cross, in order to save your soul. Here He rises from the dead, promising to you the gift of eternal life. Here, Christ blesses you, fills you with joy and peace and the kind of love that only God can give. That’s God’s business. Let that be your top priority in 2022, and you will be blessed. Amen.