Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sermon for Christmas 2: "Wisdom Incarnate"

+ 2nd Sunday of Christmas - January 4th, 2014 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: 1 Kings 3:4-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Luke 2:40-52
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Solomon prayed for wisdom:  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil…
Paul says Christ Jesus became to us Wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30).
Luke says Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
And after three days they found the boy Jesus in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Behold the mystery and joy of Christ’s incarnation. The Omniscient God learns.  The God who knows all the answers asks questions of the temple rabbis. The God who opens the ears of the deaf opens his ears to hear his Father’s Word in his Father’s house. The God who spoke creation into being learns his Aleph, Beth, Gimmels (ABCs in Hebrew) and amazes the wise and learned theologians of the day. The God who cannot be contained in a temple made by human hands locates himself in His Father’s house and in the temple of his human flesh all for you.
At Christmas we celebrate the Word made flesh. But Christmas, and our celebration is not over. For along with the word, Wisdom became flesh for you. In Scripture, Wisdom is both a divine gift and God himself. Christ is God’s wisdom incarnate for you.
And in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Typically, we associate “wisdom” with people who are older than us. The young are quick with facts, but short on experience, knowledge, and general common sense. Wisdom, like a fine wine, comes with age. “Another year older and wiser we say.” The Proverbs instructs us:
The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
About the last thing you’d expect from a 12 year old boy is wisdom. And yet that’s precisely what this morning’s Gospel delivers to us – the Wisdom of the universe, the Holy Wisdom of God incarnate, packaged in the form of a twelve year old kid from Nazareth who is in the temple to be examined by the teachers on the eve of His becoming a man.
Luke includes this story here as a way of wrapping up the infancy and childhood chapter of Jesus’ life. From this point on, He would have been considered a young man and no longer a child. In Jesus’ day, they had no concept of “adolescence”.
But this was no ordinary twelve year old who was dropped off at the temple by His parents for free baby-sitting. This is the wisdom of God in the flesh. The Wisdom who orders the universe, who sets the sun, moon and stars in their course, who orders and governs all things so that we perceive Him in the laws of nature. There was more wisdom in the tip of that Child’s little finger than in all the teachers of Israel and the world. And yet He deigns to sit among them as a student, answering their questions, and impressing them. And being obedient to His parents as any Child.
But He is not just any ordinary Child. He is God’s Child, His elect Son come to save the world from Sin, Death, and Hell. You wouldn’t know that looking at Him there in the temple, or for that matter in the manger. He blends in as one of us because He is one of us: Immanuel, God with us.
This is the way wisdom works in the Scriptures: hidden from the so-called wisdom of this world. And so hidden “in, with and under” this humble yet deeply wise Child is the eternal wisdom of the ages. God’s plan from all eternity to redeem us and a fallen creation from its bondage to decay was happening. This Child in the manger and the temple is the One who would do it. The Spirit of wisdom is upon Him. You see it in his miracles, Baptism, Transfiguration, and ultimately His death, resurrection, and ascension – but always hidden under his humanity.
Christ is Wisdom, a wisdom we do not have but long for, a Wisdom we seek to gain but cannot, a Wisdom that no amount of study or experience can acquire, a wisdom that comes to us freely as a gift of God’s grace by the Spirit working through the Word, making us “wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” We see God’s wisdom most clearly in the wisdom of the cross and the Crucified Christ. As Paul declares, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
So, God sent a boy to do God’s job. God sent His Son, born of the Virgin, cradled in a manger, raised in a household, obedient to father and mother, to save this world from the chaos, darkness, and decay of Sin.
This is the nature of God’s wisdom hidden in Jesus’ humanity. It’s easy to overlook what God is doing in His hidden and foolish ways. We’ll rush the baby to the doctors for his shots, but are we as urgent about Baptism, the washing of regeneration and renewal? We’re quick to call 911 in an emergency, but do we call upon the Lord in the day of trouble? We’re always in search of our next meal and complain of “starving to death” if we miss lunch, but do we experience the same pangs of hunger and thirst for righteousness when we miss the Lord’s Supper? We’re quick to point out the sins of others, but do we rush to confess our sins and receive absolution from the pastor as from God himself with the same zealotry? Repent.
For apart from Christ who is Wisdom, our wisdom is like that of an eleven year old: immature, perverse, and always thinking about ourselves. The OT word for our condition is folly. Foolishness.
Repent, for there’s a little selfish fool in each of us - our sinful flesh - who delights in despising God’s Word, dishonoring His name, and praying “My will be done.”
Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house, among the things of my Father. Jesus was lost. Mary and Joseph were. And so were we – lost in sin and death.
Jesus is lost among us whenever and wherever Christians and the Church departs from God’s teaching of the Scriptures, or strays away from Christ’s gifts of the Sacraments. Apart from his Word and promises in water, word, body, and blood we are truly lost. And when we lose Jesus in the Scriptures and the Sacraments, Jesus is lost by our great spiritual doubts, our guilt, and sin which increases the more Jesus’ gifts are lost from us. We have become increasingly “wise” in the ways of the world, yet fools in the ways of God.
That is why Jesus was in his Father’s house. For you, to find you in your lostness and bring you into his Father’s house.
It’s no accident that Jesus was in the temple. Already at age 12, all which is promised by God’s located-ness in the OT temple is now given to you through the temple of Jesus body. Jesus was in his Father’s house that day to find you, just as he remains in his Father’s house, here in the Church, to bless you, forgive you, give you his holiness and wisdom.
Mary and Joseph searched high and low to find Jesus, everywhere except the one logical place where He has to be, in His Father’s house, where the Word and Sacraments are. That’s where you find Jesus for that’s where He finds you in your lostness. Jesus wasn’t lost. He’s the Lord. And he was in the Father’s house in deep humility to find you.
Christ who is your Wisdom comes to you in Baptism. You’ve been washed in the Wisdom of God. The Wisdom for which Solomon prayed and longed, the Wisdom the wise men sought in their travels from the East, the Wisdom that brings light and life and order to the universe and to your life sends the Holy Spirit to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify you in the true faith. Baptized and believing, you are wise to salvation through faith in Jesus. In Jesus you receive a Wisdom that will bring you to life with God forever. And in Jesus’, God’s Wisdom in the flesh, you are never lost.
So today on this second Sunday of Christmas, the feast continues. The Word made flesh dwells among us. We are in the Father’s house. You are not lost. Jesus finds you right where he promises, here where the Lord’s people gather on the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s house and receive the Lord’s Supper.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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