“Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” Are you dealing with the things of our Father?
Back in the day when the Westminster Mall was thriving I was doing a little shopping when I noticed a 3 year old walking down the middle of the Mall apparently unattended by an adult. Worried about the little girl's welfare I began to follow. I followed her down one of the long arms towards JC Penny. When she reached the store she sat down and began to cry. I got down on my knees and asked “What’s the matter?” You know the answer—"I can’t find my mommy.”
So I took her home and that’s how I got Brittany.
No, No. That’s not what happened. I don’t remember the little girl's name but I told her that we would find her mommy. I thought I would take her to the Mall concierge where I knew they could make a public announcement. But then I thought maybe not a good idea, didn’t want to be accused of kidnapping. So I called the store to get the attention of one of the clerks. She came over I explained the situation and before she could call Security I saw one frantic mother.
Apparently on the other end of the Mall mom was looking at something on the rack and her kid wandered out the store and all the way to Penny’s
Ever lose a kid? There’s a parental nightmare for you.
It's been 12 years since Jesus was dedicated at the Temple. 12 years since Simeon spoke that prophecy about Jesus being the falling and rising of many, the one who would reveal the thoughts and hearts of every person.
Luke 2:41-52 (MSG)
Every year Jesus' parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn't know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt. His mother said, "Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you."
He said, "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?" But they had no idea what he was talking about.
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
“Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” Are you dealing with the things of our Father?
Jewish custom at the time was that every adult male who lived within 50 miles of Jerusalem was expected to celebrate Passover in the city. I believe even to this day those of Jewish faith desire to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem at least once in their lifetime.
The Mishnah describes the educational process for a young Jewish boy in Jesus' time. By 12 or 13 the lads would have large portions of the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, memorized. From 5 to 12 a person is ready to receive the scripture, from 13 to 18 to obey the commandments.
You’ve heard of a bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah. In the first century, the scholars tell me that at age 13 a boy underwent a ritual welcoming them into the community of faith as an adult. Bar mitzvah means “son of the commandment.” The bat mitzvah for young women came along in our times.
Jesus is of age and participating in the Passover celebration with the whole clan from Nazareth. When the festival is over someone goes missing. The scholars tell me this is not because of negligent parents. I have read that Usually, the women in a caravan started out much earlier than the men for they traveled more slowly. The men started later and traveled faster and the two sections would not meet until the evening encampment was reached. It was Jesus' first Passover. No doubt Joseph thought he was with Mary, Mary thought that he was with Joseph and not till the evening camp did they miss him. Like any other parents, Mary and Joseph start frantically looking and head back to the city searching for their son.
During the Passover season, it was the custom for the Sanhedrin to meet in public in the Temple court to discuss theological questions. It was there Joseph and Mary found Jesus. If you read the description of what they found you get the impression that Jesus might be rather a precocious boy dominating a crowd of his seniors. But that’s not what the words that Luke uses mean. Hearing and asking questions is the regular Jewish phrase for a student learning from his teachers. Jesus was listening to the discussions and eagerly searching for knowledge like an avid student. The elders were impressed by this young man’s potential.
Mom and Dad find Him and he gets a scolding. As a parent, I have been angerly upset in relief that my kid was OK. Grant pulled one of those “oops” his Junior year when he wasn’t where he was supposed to be after Junior-Senior Banquet and it wasn’t until 5AM that I finally tracked him down. One of those cell phone battery died and fell asleep at the afterparty things. Yeah, right. I certainly can understand the mood of Joseph and Mary.
Then Jesus says something that would have gotten him grounded for a year. "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?"
Luke writes: But Dad and mom had no idea what he was talking about. Pretty sure they weren’t in the mood to listen to any excuses. What happened next I am not sure but Luke goes on to write: So Jesus “went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them.”
I take a strong stance on the humanity of Jesus. I’ve been asked when Jesus knew he was the Messiah, when he knew he was God incarnate. That’s a tough question for me. The easy answer is from birth. Well then he wasn’t quite like everybody else and therefore really can’t set the example for me to follow because he was way ahead of the game. Some folks say at Jesus baptism in the Jordan when the voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” I’m not sure when Jesus realized who he was, but my opinion is that he is coming to realize who he is at this time-- Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?" Not carpentry with dad, but the things of his Father.
In the middle of the last century a young person might say “I need to go find myself?” I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit even today. We are bombarded with propaganda on who we are. Genetics plays a role, parenting plays a role, peers play a role, culture plays a role, teachers, coaches, heroes, play a role. If you don’t know who you are it’s like the destination of traveling to nowhere, “if you’re going nowhere any road will take you there.” Supposedly as we mature we figure out who we are, but that’s not always the case; there’s a lot of Peter and Princess Pan’s out there. Adults who have never figured out who they are.
What’s the Peter and Princess Pan life like? Immaturity, emphasis on self and instant gratification, a kind of aimlessness, no sense of urgency except to have fun, no saving, no planning for the future because you’re going to live forever. A dabbler, not a committer. The center of the universe. Too cool. Reality shows instead of documentaries. When things turn sour then its trapped in the rat race, going nowhere faster. Dwindling options. Stuck. Isolated.
Have you discovered who you are? Do you know who you are? Who you really are, the real you is found in the things you do. Jesus said: “Didn't you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?" It is only by doing the things of your Heavenly Father that you will discover who you really are.
What are the things of your heavenly Father?
First, you must make sure the Jesus Father is your Father.
The scripture proclaims:
John 1:12 (MSG) “…whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.
When you are acknowledging the fact that you don’t know who you are,
When you are believing that your true self can only be found in Jesus
When you are committing yourself to following Jesus
God sees the intent of your heart saves you from your confusion, saves you from being a Peter or Princess Pan, and gives you the grace to start all over again with a knowledge of who you are growing up to be. God give you a new identity as His son or daughter.
Romans 8:15 (NIV) For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
It is through faith in the testimony of the scripture concerning Jesus that Jesus’ Father becomes your Father. Let me ask: Who's your daddy?
Once you’ve settled the question then you can begin to explore the things of your Father that you need to be doing that confirm your identity.
There are specifics, unique to your individuality. The way you find out what the things your Father is doing are through your practice of the seven habits of a disciple. The seven habits are pathways to encountering your Father, the seven habits are your request for a personal audience, the seven habits open spiritual eyes and ears to understand the things of your Father. The seven habits are bible reading and study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation. From your practice, you will discover what is you are to be doing and in the process become the person your Father has created you to be.
In general there are some things that your Father does in the life of all His children. Every child of God is given the grace to love. Love is something Loving is what your Heavenly Father is doing. This is what love does:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (MSG)
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies.
Love obeys the Father’s desires. Love meets the needs of others. Love keeps in step with the Holy Spirit. Love is a wise steward with material blessings.
Love does, and love feels. You feel love growing inside you. Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG) But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. As you discover who you are in Christ you feel love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
It's in loving that you find yourself. It is in loving you discover who you really are. Let me ask you: “Are you loving?”
There is an old enemy that will try to delude you. Egoism, the self-centered on the self can trick you into thinking you are something that you are not. The easiest way to tell if egoism is messing you up is to ask yourself if there is a difference between what you want to do and what you are doing. Is there a dissonance between your desire to be doing the things your Father is doing and actually doing them? The intent is there but no action? It’s a sure sign that you’re stuck. If you are stuck, then practice the 7th habit of the seven habits contemplation and ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you the grace He will give you to become unstuck, to become the person He has created you to be. Let me ask you: Are you doing it?
Do you know who you are?
You discover who you are in doing the things your heavenly Father is doing.
Who's your daddy?
It is through faith in the gospel that Jesus’ Father becomes your father.
Anyone here today wants to settle that question, just raise a hand. I want to encourage you in this part of your spiritual journey.
Are you loving?
Its only by doing the things your heavenly Father is doing that you will become the person He has created you to be and do the things He has created you to do. If not you’re stuck and you still don’t know who you really are.
Are you doing it?
If not you need to ask your Heavenly Father for His help, His sanctifying grace that transforms you from the inside out, crucify egoism and setting you free from the power of canceled sin. If you want that help, just raise a hand, I want to encourage you in this part of your spiritual journey.