First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, January 10, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Don’t Forget Jesus!”
Deuteronomy 6:10-12; Luke 2:41-52
The story we just read from Luke’s Gospel is one of the few stories that we have about Jesus from his childhood. In fact, from the time Jesus is an infant, until the time He is about 30, the Bible tells us very little about what His life was like.
In today’s story Jesus is on a trip with his parents. He is 12 years old, and it’s the Passover, so he’s gone with them to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship. At the end of the feast, His parents left with a large group. Mary and Joseph got about a day away, and then they realized that they were living every parents’ nightmare: they had left their son back in Jerusalem. Jesus was missing.
Please not that this has nothing to do with Mary and Joseph being irresponsible and neglecting of their parental duties. In ancient times, people traveling used to go in caravans. Women usually traveled separately to the men. Children spent most of their time playing games around the caravan.
Can you imagine what it was like in that moment? “I thought you had him, Mary.” “No, I thought you had him, Joseph!” Mary and Joseph had to go back and check all the rest stops. And then they rushed back to the city and for three days, three whole days, they looked around Jerusalem; the hotel, the restaurant, relatives’ homes … And then, finally, they went back to the Temple. And there was Jesus … sitting in the midst of the rabbis and scholars, asking questions and giving answers.
When Mary sees Jesus, Scripture tells us that she asked, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” But Jesus, calmly, replies “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.” As we examine this story today, I want to bring to our attention two short observations as we enter this New Year.
First: Do Not Leave Jesus Behind
I believe that the temptation of all time is to leave Jesus behind. In His infinite love, God warned the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:12 saying, “Do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” This warning is repeated many times throughout the Bible. The temptation of all time is to plan and Jesus is not included in our plans. The temptation of all time is to budget and God’s kingdom is not a line in our budgets. The temptation of all time is to plan your week and there is no time for Jesus.
The real tragedy is to keep going when Jesus is missing of our lives. It’s as if you know there is a serious problem with your house’s foundation and instead of addressing it and taking care of it, you just ignore it. Writing to the nation of Israel, the Prophet Hosea lamented the fact that they have gotten weak without even knowing it. In Hosea 7:9, he says: “Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice.” The same thing is said of Samson. Samson – a man who has always enjoyed the presence and the strength of the Lord – because of his disobedience, the Spirit of God departed him. In Judges 16:20 we read: “Then Delilah called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.” May we never lose sight of Jesus this year.
Second: Do Not Look for Jesus in the Wrong Places
Beware of looking for Jesus in the wrong places. Luke tells us that Jesus was 12 years old when His parents left Him behind. Luke also tells us in Luke 2:46, “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” I am surprised that it took Mary and Joseph three full days to find Jesus, “after three days they found him in the temple,” Luke says. I understand that Jerusalem gets crazy during the Passover with people coming from all over the world to celebrate the Feast of Passover, but I think they should’ve guessed where Jesus was.
Like the Magi in our story from last week, Joseph and Mary looked for Jesus in the wrong places. The Magi looked for the newborn king where kings should be born, the palace of Herod. The trap of looking for Jesus in all the wrong places is a dangerous one. Think about how much energy and time we waste today when we look for Jesus in the wrong places. Are we looking for God in the right places?
So as we enter 2021, I believe we need to wrestle with an important question; a question that will be like our compass this year. Where do we find Jesus in the world today? Friends, Jesus is found in the faithful proclamation of His Word. We encounter Jesus in the pages of the Bible. Spend as much time as you can with Jesus this year. Read your Bible daily. Meditate on it. Let your spirit get fed on God’s Word. Saturate your life with Scriptures.
But let me add to that another important piece as we discern where is Jesus in the world today. Jesus is found in the life of service. He is present when we serve others in His name. Christ is found in feeding the hungry; in giving drink to the thirsty; in clothing the naked; in visiting and checking on the sick; in sheltering the homeless. Christ is found in showing hospitality to a stranger; in a moment that you spare of your time to pray with someone; in an act of mercy and a gesture of love; and in helping the weak and helpless.
Friends, as we enter 2021, I encourage not to leave Jesus behind. Make sure He is at the center of your life this year. Make sure He is the captain of your ship. Let’s make every day count this year. A day that we do not get the chance to commune with Jesus is not worth living. A day that we do not get to do something for the glory of God is not worth living. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.