Monday, January 4, 2016

Second Sunday of Christmas Sermon: "The House that Jesus Built"

+ Second Sunday of Christmas - January 3rd, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: 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.

Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?

God’s house a loaded phrase in Scripture. It signifies who God’s people are, his household, and the location where God dwells with his house. As St. John proclaims in Revelation: The dwelling place of God is with man.

The mystery and wonder of Christ’s incarnation continue to amaze and astonish us, just as it did Mary and Joseph. He whom no earthly temple can contain, sits before the rabbis in the temple. He who is Wisdom grows in understanding.

Already at the age of 12 Jesus knows who he is and why he came among us: to keep the Law, to lay down his life, to redeem us, to be our Passover Lamb. Through Jesus, we become God’s household, his holy people. Jesus in the temple is a reminder of why he was born for you: to redeem you, to destroy the temple of his flesh, raise it up three days later, and build his house with each of you as his living stones.

The Holy Spirit made Mary’s womb a temple and once again, God dwelt with his people. Jesus goes to His Father’s house, not for himself, but for us. For us who have the attention span of 12 year old boys, Jesus was perfectly attentive to God’s teaching. For us who have disobeyed every letter of that Law, Jesus knew every word – and kept every word of that Law for you. For us who fail to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, Jesus rejoiced in hearing and learning God’s word. For us who fail to honor our father and mother, no matter our age, Jesus honored both his Heavenly Father, and went down to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph and was submissive to his earthly parents.

Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?

The foundations of this house reach down through the ages, back to Genesis. We may not think of the Garden of Eden as a temple, but it was. Beneath the verdant canopy, sacred trees buttressed God’s garden cathedral; holy fruit adorned its walls and ceilings; and God dwelt with Adam and Eve, giving them his goodness, mercy, and life.

This was the house that Jesus built for Adam and Eve and all humanity. But this house would not stand forever. Adam and Eve preferred to fashion their own temple with their own hands out of fig leaves. Another house was needed.

And so the Lord told Moses to build a tabernacle. Wood. Gold. Silver. Bronze. Fine linens and garments, gems and tapestries. Oil for the lamp stands. Incense and fire the sacrifice. Every inch of that tabernacle was designed to give God’s holiness to unholy people. God dwelt with his people, was present with his promises in his holy house, and forgave sin by the shedding of blood.

This was the house that Jesus built through Moses for all Israel, for the Passover, foreshadowing Christ our Passover Lamb who is sacrificed for us. Still, another house was needed.

And so the Lord commanded David to build a house. The movable tabernacle became the magnificent temple. From Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion, God established his house. But it was Solomon, not David who built a holy habitation for the Lord. God’s promise passed down through the generations, from David to Solomon to Mary. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

This was the house that Jesus built through Solomon for Israel. And yet, as glorious as Solomon’s temple was, it did not last forever. Solomon’s wisdom turned to folly.

But in the fullness of time, Gabriel came to Mary fulfilling Isaiah’s words: Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given.

I must be in my Father’s house. And he was, first in the temple of Mary’s womb, then in the temple in Jerusalem. Born an infant priest to be our great high priest on the cross.

Only now, everything that was true about the temple of old resides in Jesus. Jesus is your holiness, your cleansing, your redemption, your forgiveness. He hears your prayers and prays for you. Jesus is your temple, not of stones and wood and brick, but flesh and blood and bone, all for you.

I must be in my Father’s house.

The next time Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Passover, He went to be the Passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world for you. And by his dying and rising, Jesus fashioned for himself a new house, a holy habitation in his own body. With his pierced hands Jesus builds his house and places you safely in his wounds.

As St. Paul writes, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

That’s God’s gift given to you in Baptism. God dwells with us and us with him. Jesus is here with you and for you, just as he was in the temple at age 12. Here he resides in the temple of bread and wine. His flesh and blood are given for you along with his peace, presence, and pardon for sin.

Jesus must be in His Father’s house, and so must we. For here in his house, we repent, receive, and rejoice. As we prayed earlier...for this holy house and for all who offer here their worship and praise.

You are the house that Jesus built with his own flesh and blood, by his death and resurrection. You are a holy habitation of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I must be in my Father’s house. And so must we, and not only today as we gather around the Lord’s table, but forever in the heavenly temple prepared for you by Christ before the foundation of the world. Jesus was in the Father’s house so that you will be welcome in the Father’s house forever.

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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