Finding Jesus

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 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.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. (Luke 2:46-50 ESV)

In the movie, Forest Gump, Lieutenant Dan is annoyed with people asking him if he had found Jesus. When he asks Forest, the response he gets is, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for Him.” We laugh, but ironically, the pagan writers of Hollywood may have accidentally hit on something important. Perhaps the best question I can ask from this passage is, “Why go to church?”

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Ho The Ancient Women Prophets

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 ESV)

There are very few references to prophetesses in Scripture.  But none really like Anna. This lady is constantly in the Temple, and she is there practicing spiritual disciplines as part of personal worship. We don’t have this pattern in a prophetess elsewhere. Taken out of context as we have, you may miss the pronoun referring to Jesus. Here she prophesies about Jesus, but not just everyone, but to those ‘waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem’. These are the elements of this divergent pattern I want to look at.

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But Before Being Dismissed…

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:25, 26 NASB)

Simeon is an anomaly in this account.  He’s somewhat like John the Baptist, somewhat like Zachariah John’s father, and somewhat like a respectable old man.  He does stuff by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which means, in his day, he’s really weird and unpredictable.  On the other hand, he loves his people, and he loves his God.  He’s probably one of the most upbeat people in the temple any time he’s there; and that’s with the people suffering under Roman rule and the religious leaders being ridiculously unrighteous.

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The City of David?

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, (Luke 2:4 NASB)

So David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. (2 Samuel 5:9 NASB)

One quirky thing I ran across here was the reference to the City of David.  I stumbled on it because I have just finished studying 2 Samuel, and there the ‘City of David’ is Jerusalem.  I checked, and the reference is in the Greek text of the Hebrew Scriptures which Luke would have used as well.  I have a few commentaries for Luke, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of ink used on this issue.  But it’s definitely odd to me, and I believe it would have been somewhat odd for Luke’s audience as well.

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Christmas In July: Familiar Problems in the Light of the Summer Sun

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7 NASB)

Perhaps it’s because this isn’t the Christmas Season that I see this passage differently.  In that season it’s familiar, and there seems to be an agreement about what all the elements mean, how we emphasize them, how we apply them and so on.  But now, in the light of a July sun, it seems oddly different. While it’s not radically different, somethings seem less important or stark, and other things come to the foreground.

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Forerunning God

 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 NASB)

The people wondered what this child, surrounded by the clear work of God, would be (see verse 66).  Zachariah essentially told them.  The child he fathered would be called the prophet of the Most High.  And he would prepare the way for God Who was coming.  He would prepare them with knowledge of salvation through forgiveness because of God’s mercy.  He would be the forerunner of God Himself.

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Well Meaning Diversionary Friends

Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.  Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.  And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.  But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”  And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.”  And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called.And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. (Luke 1:57-63 NASB)

I was told when I was young by some old Baptist minister that, “The will of God can be overturned by a simple majority in a Baptist business meeting.”  I chuckled because it was supposed to be funny, but honestly, I didn’t get it.  I do now.  I learned it the hard way.  Elizabeth and Zachariah probably already knew it.  But, in spite of the risk of offending their well-meaning neighbors and relatives, they named their son John.

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