Month: January, 2014

The Calling

Pastor Dan Haugen

January 26, 2014

“The Calling”

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

With all that President Obama is going through as his popularity wains, it causes me to think back to his inauguration and the impact it had made on the world. I began to think about this as I was studying the death of Herod in Acts chapter 12, about how an angel of God was sent down to inflict him with the worms that would eventually kill him because he didn’t show praise to the one true God. You see, Herod had a God complex himself, not denying anything when the people of Tyre and Sidon declared him a God.

I thought of the enormous pressure put on the president because of those, in the beginning, who were giving him praise in messianic proportions. How will he handle it? Will he buy into the hype or will he remain as humble as he appears? Everyone has their own opinion on how that turned out.

One thing about the inauguration was very refreshing, however. They still included God into the equation and honored him with the benediction and the initial prayers by Pastor Rick Warren, though I felt the prayer by Pastor Warren lacked in worship a little. Rick Warren was given this honor because he had become a spiritual advisor of sorts to the president, a huge honor with a lot of responsibility and opportunity.

So how did Pastor Warren ascend to this great position for our country as a sort of spokesman for the Christian community? Well, it was largely because of his book, “A Purpose Driven Life.”

Pastor Warren’s book has sold millions around the world and has enjoyed lots of uncommon publicity. You might remember the woman in Georgia who talked a man who had held her hostage into surrendering by quoting from this book. Or the father of a missing girl who gave the book to the one accused of kidnapping her.

So why all the interest in this book? I think, in part, it’s because so many people are searching for their purpose in life, that quest that God has instilled in all of us.

There is a great quote from an unknown pastor that says, “there are two great days in a person’s life – the day you were born and the day you discovered what you were born for. So, what were you born for? Do you know or are you simply going through the motions of life? Why did God choose to give you life? Why are you here?

Many years ago, Time magazine did a survey where they tried to discover what people felt was the #1 need for most Americans. Do you know what a majority of Americans said? They said it was the need for meaning and purpose – to know what they were born to become. To know what they were suppose to be doing with their lives.

It’s been said that a man without purpose is like a ship without a rudder. We need to ask ourselves, “What have we done that we can believe in and be proud of?”

One of my favorite characters in the history of baseball was Yogi Berra. Yogi was famous for his chatter while playing the game and he did this to encourage his teammates and to annoy the other teams players.

One day, the great Hank Aaron came to bat and Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding your bat all wrong. You’re suppose to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything and, as you might have guessed, he hit a towering homerun over the bleachers in left-field. After rounding the bases and tagging home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi and said, “I didn’t come here to read.” Aaron knew his purpose and he wasn’t about to let anyone else lead him astray.

I can tell you from personal experience that those who have answered the question about their purpose in life are the happiest and most fulfilled. As I reflect on my own journey, it’s amazing the path that God has chosen for me. It’s been an exciting adventure full of trials and celebrations and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it has been God who has guided me to this place and others that I could never have dreamed I would ever have been.

And I am by no means unique. God has a specific call on all of our lives. In fact, as I see it, there are a few distinct callings that are given to every Christian.

Our first call as Christians is the call to follow Jesus. In our Gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus calls four fishermen and tells them that they will be fishing, not for fish, but for men. So they immediately leave their nets and do just that. They leave the only life they’ve known and start a journey in a new direction. This may sound like the end of their story, but as we all know, it’s only the beginning.

What these fishermen found out was that the call to follow Jesus is not a singular event. It might start out as a singular event, but it involves a daily yielding to the guidance of Christ from then on.

Do you remember how, later on, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter? He did that because when you heed to the calling to follow Christ, it’s not just a change in your routine, it’s a change in your identity as well. Our purpose becomes His because we now belong to Him.

Next, our Gospel lesson reminds us that we are called to bring others into a relationship with Christ. This particular calling has some things in common with fishing. For example, if you want to attract fish, you have to use the right bait.

I like pizza and I’m not especially fond of worms, but if I go to the river and put pizza on my hook, I’ll most likely come home with an empty bucket. We have to offer something that will be interesting to the fish. So it is with reaching God’s people. Here at Redeemer, we have to find the right bait to attract the lost in our area.

And after their caught they must be cleaned and only God can do this properly as His Holy Spirit works through us to guide those who have taken the bait. Leighton Ford said, “God loves us the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way.”

Finally, we also, as Christians, receive the call to be more like Jesus as we follow His example. Our focus should be on what it takes to be more like Christ when we go to bed at night then we were when we woke up that morning. After all, isn’t that goal of every Christian to grow and be more like Christ every day? The question is, how do we become more like Christ? Well, here are a few suggestions:

To be more like Christ, we must make the decision to grow in Christ. It all starts in the will. It’s not in how we stop something but in how we start something. Right here at Redeemer we offer many opportunities for growth through our bible studies, our various groups, our Sunday school, our worship services or whatever you might need. If you have a desire to grow and you can think of a way we can help that isn’t being offered, we’ll do our best to develop it and make it available because growth is essential to our being more like Christ.

To be more like Christ, we need to begin practicing all the means of grace – we must study the Word together, worship together, pray together and bind ourselves up together with Christ. We must give witness to our faith and live the life of a Christian in boldness and without apology. If we practice these habits, we will slowly and surely form the character of Christ within us.

To be more like Christ we need to come to an understanding of our unique call to ministry. God has gifted each and every one of us and has called us all to ministry in His name. If you have Jesus in your life then you have also received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has gifted us for service. If you’re not sure how your particular gifts might best serve the church, let’s talk about it.

We’ve all heard the gifts listed in Romans, Ephesians and 1st Corinthians, but they are not the only gifts. There are those who have the gift of comforting others, those who have the gift for encouraging others, those who have the gift for serving others. What is your gift and how are you prepared to use it? Your gift is a blessing from God. Share that blessing with others as you have been called to do.

“God doesn’t call people who are qualified. He calls people who are willing, and then He qualifies them.”

God has a call to ministry upon every person’s life. There is ministry and purpose for your life and the life of this congregation that will not be complete unless or until you’re placed beside the other members to fulfill this calling. What are you called to be in Jesus name? How have you been gifted to serve?

And finally, some are called into full-time ministry. This call is not for everybody as the others might be. While we’re all called to ministry, some are called to be set apart for full-time Church work. For me it was a yearning in my heart and a restlessness in my soul for something more.

In our Gospel lesson, these men left their boats and nets for something more. I’m sure that for them it was as it was for me, both thrilling and frightening. When I accepted my call to full-time ministry I was both excited and scared because I was venturing into the unknown. I was comfortable in my box but I knew I was not following my calling inside it. I pray that there are others in this church who make the same journey in faith.

Whatever your calling, make sure that you are tuned into the voice of God. As we’ve said before, don’t simply hear God, listen to Him. He might speak to you as you lie in bed, He might speak to you through others, He might be nudging you right now….

You see, there are two great days in your life: the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. Be open to God’s calling in your life. Discover what God has called you to be and respond in faith. Amen

Bible Study – Matthew 4:12-25

Why was John the Baptist arrested? Luke 3:15-20

Why did Jesus withdraw into Galilee? Vs.13-16; Isaiah 9:1-2

Explain the light. Job 25: 3, 33: 28-30; Psalm 18:28, 36:9; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 1:1-9 , 3:18-21, 8:12, 9:1-5, 12:35-36; Ephesians 5:1-8; 1 John 2:8-11

In verse 17 we hear Jesus’ first words of ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?” why are these words familiar?  Matthew 3:1-2

What is the Kingdom of Heaven? Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36; Revelation 11:15

What does Daniel 7 say about God’s kingdom? Do you think there is any connection between

the kingdom Christ preached and the kingdom in Daniel 7? Daniel 7: 13-14, 26-27

Why is it significant that Jesus would start His ministry in a region that is habituated by both Jews and Gentiles (it was called Galilee of the Gentiles)?

To verse 4:16 we read the first part of Matthew’s Gospel. Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs says the first part anticipates the ending in 3 ways. How so? Matthew 1:22-23(28:20), Vss. 12-16 (28:16-20), Matthew 3:17 (Matthew 26:63-64, 27:40, 43, 54)

Who were the four fishermen called to follow Jesus? Vss. 18, 21, Matthew 10:1-2 Why do you think they left the only life they ever knew “immediately?” (The Greek emphasizes the hastiness of their leaving and the abandonment of their nets) Matthew 10:37

The four did not volunteer, they were “called,” what the difference? How does this show us how we should follow God’s call?

Jesus calls them that they are called to be “Fishers of men.” Why does he use this phrase? Jeremiah 16: 14-18; Matthew 13:47-50

What is to be their bait?

What did Jesus’ ministry include besides preaching? How did these activities fulfill prophecy

about the kingdom? Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:4-6; 42:6-9; 61:1.

What do you learn about being a disciple or follower of Christ in Matthew? What

demands does Jesus make on your life?

How In what sense does Jesus call you to be a fisher of men?

The Secret is Out

Pastor Dan Haugen

“The Secret is Out”

January 19, 2014

 

Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father….

Please pray with me…

Christmas has just passed and many of us were blessed to have had more lasting memories of quality family time added to the list of what make’s Christmas time great. It’s natural to look back to Christmases past and share stories that stand out in each celebration. One of our favorite stories has to do with Emily when she was just old enough to start understanding the do’s and don’ts of Christmas.

It was no secret that her big brother Alex wanted a certain Ninja Turtle toy. He would ask for it over and over making sure we wouldn’t forget when shopping day arrived. Well, the day did arrive and we were grateful to find just what he wanted. As Emily was very young, we had to remind her that it was important that she keep the secret of what we got him so he could be surprised on Christmas Eve when we opened our gifts. She said she would and was even a little excited to know something her big brother didn’t.

We got home and the boys were acting all casual hoping not to get caught straining their eyes at the bags in the hopes to catch a peak. Alex was especially curious. We looked at Emily, hoping she would keep the secret and at first it seemed she would. Then suddenly she blurts out, “Alex, we didn’t get you your Ninja Toy,” which of course meant, “Alex, we got your ninja toy.” Alex knew it right away and the secret was out.

Secrets can be very hard to keep, especially for little girls. In a way, we’re not molded by the world to keep them. Keeping a secret from someone is difficult sometimes because we have this extra knowledge that someone else doesn’t have and we want to prove it. Too often, the secret gets out, no matter how hard we try to keep it.

Jesus was aware of this and He often asked those around Him who had just witnessed one of His miracles to keep it quiet. His time had not yet arrived and He had too much to do in the interim to get the Pharisees and Sadducees riled up just yet. He knew how and when His day was to come, so He depended on others to keep His miracles a secret until that day had arrived.

But some secrets are simply too hard to keep and, in our Gospel lesson, we see that the coming Messiah was making Himself known. His ministry had begun, those who would walk at His side and learn were being chosen. The cat was out of the bag. The secret of who the Messiah was, was a secret no more.

The preparation that Christ has gone through to get to this day had been completed, the Baptism which would mark the beginning of His ministry had been accomplished, His time of temptation had come and gone and it was time to prepare for the coming of the Christ.

Our Gospel lesson takes place the day after His Baptism and Jesus is walking towards John. John can’t help himself but to draw attention to this and, from His reaction we learn some things. First John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Our first lesson? Look to the Lamb.

John the Baptist was the first to call Jesus the “Lamb of God.” He used it as a title of importance and privilege. Now, most people don’t associate lambs with something mighty like God but here it’s entirely appropriate. God had given the lamb a special place in the eyes of the Israelites. For Jews, the Lamb had significant religious connotations. John certainly wasn’t saying, “Here comes Jesus, the weakling sent to save us from our sins.” No, he was bringing attention to the mighty one who would bring forgiveness. Lambs symbolized forgiveness to the Israelites. The Messiah’s coming was a sign of God’s atonement with all people, setting the world “at-one” with Him.

Lambs were also symbols of innocence which would come to have a profound impact when the innocent one was sent to die for the guilty. In a world where no one could be found pure and sinless, the only one who could rightfully make the claim would come to take our sins away.

The innocent one would become the lamb of sacrifice for all of us, who can only see guilt in our past, as a sign of His love and a want for relationship with us. John is doing much more than bringing attention to someone he revers, he is making a statement of extreme importance on who to look to for salvation.

Next, John speaks to the supremacy of Christ. John says, “This is He of whom I said, ‘after me comes a man who ranks before me, because He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that He might be revealed to Israel.”

John had been waiting for this day for a very long time. He knew that He had the great honor of ushering in the coming Messiah and He knew what this Messiah would mean to all people. He knew that this man was eternal from before there was time to everlasting and he knew that no man would ever be able to walk in His shoes. This man was coming to save all people, a man but not just a man. He was the Christ, the very Son of God.

John’s calling was to prepare all people for the coming of the promised Messiah and He did it through the Baptism of Repentance. John was asking all people to prepare their hearts because the time which had been prophesied was near. He wanted them to be prepared for what God was about to do for them. In a way, he is also preparing us.

When you want the one and only it is sometimes said that you want the real McCoy. Well, did you know that the real McCoy really wasn’t… That is, the real McCoy wasn’t really a McCoy? His real name was Norman Selby. Raised on a farm in Indiana he left home around 1890, and after years in training, emerged as a boxer with the name “Kid McCoy.”

These were the days of bare fisted boxing and the Kid was the best. He said he’d fight anyone, anywhere, and he did. For years he averaged a fight a month, and won most by knockouts. But his popularity created an atmosphere where a host of imitation Kid McCoys soon cropped up – hoping to cash in on his reputation.

That created a certain amount of confusion until “The Kid” agreed to a title fight with the legendary Joe Choynski on March 24, 1899. With that fight, “The Kid ended the confusion of his identity for all time. In a titanic slug-fest that cost him three broken ribs, Kid McCoy finished off the legendary Joe in the 20th round. After the fight, the San Francisco Examiner’s boxing writer declared, “Now You’ve SEEN The Real McCoy!”

John came to usher in the real McCoy but he was doing it in a way that might have confused the Jewish leaders. John’s baptism was mostly concerned with leading people to repentance, but this wasn’t his only purpose. He baptized so that all Israel should know the Messiah. It was his calling to bring out the secret of the Messiah’s identity and to proclaim his supremacy.

Next John gives us a testimony saying, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”

What is John saying here? He is testifying to the fact that the messiah had come. He saw the Spirit come down and stay on Him. This is the one he was waiting for and he testifies to it by saying that Jesus was He on whom the Spirit rested. It was still with Him and would always be with Him, it was permanent. Until the time of His Baptism, John wasn’t completely sure but when the Spirit rested on Jesus it was a clear sign that the Messiah was truly here as He had promised.

Jesus had come to do a baptism that was much more radical than that of John. Whereas John baptized with water, Jesus had come to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Whereas John would have a baptism to prepare for the coming Christ, Jesus Christ would have a baptism that would prepare His people for everlasting life. Whereas John would do a baptism of repentance, Jesus would bring a baptism of forgiveness and redemption. Jesus had come to make all things new and John was declaring this very thing.

But John didn’t stop there. In verse 34 he tells to all those who can hear him, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” Well, I guess there is no hiding now. John has made it very clear who Jesus is. This verse is appropriately the climax to John’s proclamation. Jesus is the Christ and God has made His promise of a coming Savior a reality. John is telling us to look to Jesus because in Him exists the fullness of God. He had the closest personal relationship possible. John calls Him the Son of God so that all will unmistakably understand that Jesus Christ is God and He possesses the deity of the Messiah.

This is, of course, what greatly aroused the Jewish leaders. They certainly didn’t miss the claim of John and as Jesus’ ministry would begin, so would the work of His detractors.

But this is not the focus now. Now it is time to tell everyone the Good News. The secret of Jesus’ identity would be a secret no longer, He is no less than the chosen one, the one with no beginning and no end, the Son of God in human form.

John made that proclamation then and He is giving all of us that same testimony. John told all to behold the coming Savior of all mankind and he commands this of us as well.

It is our duty to behold the Savior, it is our obligation to see him with eyes of trust and admiration. As Christians it is our compulsion to have faith so that we will be obedient to Him. Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.

Will you look to Jesus as you have been directed to or will you keep putting it off until a more opportune time? The poet Shel Silverstein wrote a poem I would like to read to you this morning. It’s entitled “Falling Up, HELP!…

I walked through the wildwood, and what did I see

But a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree,
Cryin’, “Someone please help me before it’s too late.”
I hollered, “I’ll free you.” He hollered back, “Wait—
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now or is Wednesday okay?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools?
Have you graduated from horn-savin’ school?
Will I owe you a favor? And what will it be?
Do you promise you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand?
Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you free me—tell me what then?
Can you guarantee I won’t get stuck again?
Tell me when. Tell me how.
Tell me why. Tell me where….”
I guess that he’s still sittin’ there.

Today is the day to hear John and rejoice in what he has to tell us. Today is the day that you make the decision to acknowledge Jesus Christ for who He really is. Today is the day that you look to Jesus to save you rather than depending the things of the world. Today is the day to let the secret out that Jesus is the way to salvation and Him alone.

1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

The secret is out, Jesus has come to save the body. He has come to make us new creatures with hope. He has come to change lives and to help us leave our lives of sin. He has come so that we might enjoy life and not be ruled by it. And He has given us the one Holy Spirit so that we might not have to take the journey alone.

There is a fitting response for all of us today. We find it in Ch. 5 of Revelation where we see the picture of the lamb victorious. It reads..

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” The Lamb that John introduced would be the lamb to become the supreme sacrifice for our sins. He is worthy of our praise. Celebrate with all the saints that you are counted among the chosen.

Look to the Lamb – because only He can be our salvation and only He was a sacrifice worthy of bringing us that salvation.

Look to the Lamb – for He wants to make all things new by showing us a rich, abundant, fulfilling life through the work of His Holy Spirit.

Look to the Lamb – He is worthy of our worship. The secret is out and His story begs to be told to all who will hear. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study Questions – John 1:29-42

What are the six titles bestowed on Jesus in this text? Vss. 29,30,33,34,38,41

Why did John the Baptist call Him “the Lamb of God” instead of “the Messiah”?

One of these titles is the Lamb of God. What would the Jews have thought of when they heard this title? Genesis 22:8-13; Exodus 12:1-14; Isaiah 53:7

How does it make you feel to think of Jesus as a lamb being led to slaughter in your behalf? Do you wonder why you would be worth such a sacrifice?

If Jesus takes away the sin of the “world”, then why do some people go to hell for their sins?

John is several months older, why does he say that Jesus was before him? John 1:1-5,14

This is a statement of humility towards Jesus, where else do we read of John’s idea of his position after Christ? John 3:22-36

How did Jesus Christ modal this same humility for us? Philippians 2:1-11

Spirituality has been called “an assault on the ego.” What do these models of humility teach us in our own spiritual lives?

Why was John’s ministry and baptism crucial for Jesus? Vs. 31

John made the statement that he did not know Jesus though we know that they were cousins, why is this and when did he finally “know” Jesus? Vs. 32-33

When Andrew and Simon find out about Jesus, what do they do? Why was it seemingly easy for them? Vs 35-42; Matthew 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18; Luke 5:1-11

Why did the disciples seek to know where He was staying?

What was it about John the Baptist that made it easy for Andrew to do what he did?

 

Why did He say Simon would be called Cephas, or Peter? Matthew 16:13-20

 

What does it mean to be chosen by God? Is being “chosen” something unconditional, one-sided, and/or irrevocable?

Because they had been chosen by God, the Disciples lives changed profoundly. How has your relationship with Christ resulted in a change or transformation in your life?

Jesus Our High Priest

Pastor Dan Haugen

“Jesus Our High Priest”

January 12, 2014

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…
This morning we focus on the Baptism of Jesus. We have all heard the story countless times but have you ever asked the question why? Why would Jesus need to be Baptized? To be honest, that’s the question that crossed my mind as I began to write this sermon. Why would the sinless Son of God need a Baptism?

So I did a little research on the reasons for Baptism’s before Jesus Christ, was Baptized. I found that at this point in Jewish history, water baptism served one of 3 purposes. 1st, there was the Baptism of Repentance. This was what John the Baptist was preaching. But of course Jesus didn’t need to repent because He hadn’t sinned.

The 2nd kind of baptism was for people who desired to convert to Judaism. It was a Baptism of Conversion. If you were a Gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism, they baptized you in water. Commentators Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explained that: “The Jews were accustomed to calling a Gentile convert, on his public admission into the Jewish faith by baptism, a new-born child.”

So, baptism was used when someone wanted to convert to Judaism. But Jesus had no need to convert to Judaism. He already was a Jew. He’d been born a Jew.

So baptism in those days could be for repentance or conversion… and Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for those reasons. So, for what other reason would a person be baptized in water back then?

Well, the only other people who experienced baptism – in the Jewish faith in that day, were priests. The Law dictated that especially the High Priest was to be “washed with water.” And the Temple had pools set aside for just that purpose. In Leviticus 8:6 we’re told that – by the instruction of God — “Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.” Then, later, during that ceremony Moses “poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.”

This act initiated Aaron’s ministry as High Priest. When Aaron and his sons were washed with water and anointed with oil, they began their priesthood and were empowered to make sacrifices and to handle holy things as God’s representatives. At that point (their baptism) God put His mark of approval on the ministry of Aaron and his sons.

The Bible shows us that Jesus’ ministry began with His baptism by John.
After His baptism, the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit as it descended on Him in the form of a dove. And the Father put His mark of approval on Jesus by loudly declaring: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

So then Jesus’ Baptism was the beginning of His ministry as our High Priest. Verse 14 of Hebrews 4 says, “…we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God…” From the day of His baptism by John at the Jordan until His death on the Cross, Jesus was preparing, as our High Priest, the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

John would have known this, but even with this knowledge, He still was reluctant to Baptize Jesus. After all, who could possibly count themselves as worthy to Baptize God Himself? John thought, like many of us would have, that the Baptism should be the other way around.

But it was important for Jesus because he had taken on our humanity. The rules weren’t thrown out the window. Jesus Himself must be Baptized and anointed the same as any human High Priest would. This was a sign for Jesus, as well as John, that God had chosen Jesus, 100% God yet 100% man, to be His incarnate presence in the world. Jesus’ Baptism was an Epiphany event, or an indicator, or a light in the darkness, a revelation of God’s presence in the world.

Jesus embraced His humanity fully and He wanted that experience to be complete. What good would it do for us if Jesus would simply bypass the rules He had previously set? Just like us He celebrated when we celebrated, He ate and drank, He walked among us and He even felt sorrow and pain just as any human would.

Luke says that when all the people were being Baptized, Jesus went to be Baptized. Even in His Baptism He chose to be one of us. By being Baptized with water, Jesus is identifying Himself as a part of the humanity He came to save. In His life, Jesus was completely committed and obedient to His Father in heaven and, at His Baptism, this was demonstrated. He was called to be our High Priest, and here He was showing his willingness to do so. This is what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Isn’t it awesome that we have a God who would choose to identify Himself with us in such a way? It gives a certain peace to know that God chose to humiliate himself by walking among us, to know that He loved us enough to want to be such an intimate part of us. It gives a certain comfort that God would want to experience what we experience. It’s more proof that we are not alone, detached from a God who doesn’t care or who finds us so unworthy of His glory that He has no use for us. We are not alone – God, instead, is with us always. He cries when we cry and is joyful when we laugh….. He is invested in us.

Jesus chose to be Baptized as a modal to us all. He told His disciples, Come and follow me; learn from what I do; become like me.”

Christ came to be our example, not just in His divine nature but also in His human nature. He came for the Spiritual experience that we all share in Baptism because it marked Him as one of us. It seems weird to think of Christ having a “Spiritual” experience but that is just what happened when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Just as we were all anointed by the Holy Spirit, so was Christ.

Just like us, Jesus needed the Father’s touch. Jesus needed that touch and so do we. This is one reason we come together in worship, it’s why we pray, it’s why we celebrate the Sacraments, and it’s why we study Scripture. We all need the Father’s touch and here, at His Baptism, Jesus received that of which He desired most.

This experience at the Jordan launched Jesus ministry as our High Priest. As the Messiah, He was now to begin that for which He was born. To save humanity of which He was now a part. His baptism was a beginning, a time when Jesus was publicly set apart and commissioned to do His work of ministering to His children here on earth. It was really an ordination, only Christ was sent to serve the Church with a capital C.

Knowing by now what lie ahead for Him, Jesus here is receiving His calling and encouragement from the Father, reaching down with a loving touch to send Him on His way to save the world as only He can.

We all need encouragement now and again. I would probably have never entered seminary had I not been encouraged to do so. Redeemer would not exist had it not been for words of encouragement to start a ministry in North Bellingham. All of us can look at where we are in life and look back to how someone’s kind words of advice or support got us here.

In much the same way, at Jesus’ Baptism, His holy Father is declaring His love and support for His Son and the ministry He was soon to begin. Just as any loving father would, he is telling His Son, “I believe in you and I know you can handle this, I’ve got your back.”

We parents know that, when our kids are finally on their own it doesn’t really mean they are “on their own.” At first, they may need some assistance, some guidance and some parental advice. It’s part of being family. Our babies are still our babies and, if we are good parents, we know that family means forever.

As a family in Christ we share in many of these blessings. It may be structured differently, but the support of a church family is still a great blessing when it is needed. We’re here to serve others just as Christ was sent to serve others. At His Baptism, His part in serving His earthly family began and it’s the greatest blessing we could have received.

And Jesus would need this encouragement. Right after this beautiful experience by the Jordan, Jesus is sent off by the Spirit to be coaxed by Satan. According to Matthew, Jesus goes straight from His Baptism to the desert where He would be tempted. And this pattern is repeated for us to show us that, even in His temptation, Christ was serving as a model for all of us. Though baptized, we too will have to face temptation on a daily basis. Jesus shows us that God has been prepared for this from the beginning and has given us all the tools needed to resist.

Satan watches for His opportunity to trip us up, to try and convince us our Baptism was of no importance, to lead us onto the path of destruction which is wide. But here Jesus, as our High Priest, shows us that all those who have been baptized in Him have what it takes to resist the temptations that will certainly come our way. We don’t have to bow to the whims and wishes of evil because we have Word and Sacrament to prepare our defence. We don’t have to give in because Christ has already given us everything we need.

I love how our Gospel lesson ends with the words, “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased.” I believe that the same message He had for His Son is the message He has for all of us.

Jesus heard the voice of the Father the day of His baptism and he asks that we also turn our ear to the still small voice of God telling us the same.

Am I saying that we should all strain to hear an audible expression of love the same as Jesus experienced that day? Of course not, our roles are different. But the message of God to us is the same. Despite our constant failings, through repentance and forgiveness, God tells us all “This is my son (or daughter) of whom I am well pleased.

We are all miracles of God, born in His image to work in His kingdom. We all share a common Christian ancestry that began at Adam and, at our Baptism, we were included in one glorious family whos time will never end. Through faith in Christ we have all been prepared for ministry and protected by the Spirit to do it.

God is first and foremost our Father, longing to be in a loving relationship with us. Those of you that are parents, what is the main message you want for all your children to know? That, even if they make a bunch of mistakes, you will forgive them and continue to love them and guide them. That is God’s message to us as well. That’s why He gave us Baptism. He wanted us all to be a special addition to His family so He could do the same for us and more.

He says, “Which of you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

My prayer for you this morning is that you experience the touch of God with the knowledge that He will never leave you nor forsake you. I pray that you understand what a great gift it is to have Jesus Christ as our High Priest to teach us the will of God. I pray that you learn for the Messiah’s example of self-sacrifice and love and begin to model it in your own lives. And I pray that, together as a family in Christ, we might begin to make a difference in the lives of all those who have the same promise we share but have not, as yet, claimed the prize in faith.

Your Father in heaven is telling you that He loves you. Enjoy it! He is setting you out with a calling to bring His family together saying, “I believe in you and I know you can handle this, I’ve got your back.” May God continue to make His presence in your lives obvious to you and may God’s place in your lives be obvious to everyone else. Amen.

 

 

About My Father’s Business

Pastor Dan Haugen

“About my Father’s Business”

January 5, 2014

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

There is not much that can compare to the feeling of losing a child. I hear about kids my children’s age being killed in an accident and I can’t help but to think of the trauma and grief that family must be going through. Recently I was reading a news app from my home town and I saw that a 23 year old, as yet unidentified, young man had been killed in a traffic accident. Immediately I thought of my own 23 year old son, Alex, who lives there. That feeling of “what if” was laced with panic. I imagined my son, lying there on the road, dead. I ran to Cheryl and we quickly called the hospital. Thank God, we thought, when we found out that it was not our son.

But then we thought of the family who would receive the news that we were so blessed not to receive, how they must be grief stricken to lose their son. We talked about that for quite a while and then we prayed for them. It was all we could do.

Only one other time did I ever have that feeling of panic and it was at our local mall. I was in looking for something for my wife for Valentine’s Day. I had my sons; Eric and Alex, then just toddlers, with me helping me choose which box of candy I should get. As I turned around to get the next critique, I saw only Erik. Alex had left in the short time I had turned my head.

We looked everywhere in the store, yelling out his name as we went – but no Alex. We went out to the mall and now I was feeling very anxious. You read so many articles about kids being kidnapped and it causes you to think the worst when you can’t find your child. Luckily, one of the mall cops found him wandering and heard our cries. Finding him again was one of the greatest joys I had ever felt. Losing him forever would have been the greatest grief.

Our emotions are like this because Family means so much. Mary and Joseph were no different. When they saw they had lost their son, that same panic I felt when I lost my son must have been driving them crazy. And, not only could they not find their son, they faced the prospect of being without him for several days as they made their way back to Jerusalem. Yes, He was the Son of God, but He was also their son.

I believe this is Luke’s attempt to show us that in many ways, Jesus had a typical childhood. Clearly he was no ordinary child but He was just a child just the same. Luke tells us that, just like other children, he learned through observation and questioning. Just like other children, he had certain expectations given to Him by His parents and He was expected to live by them and, just like other children, He got His parents upset sometimes.

Jesus lived His life like any little boy would. When the feast of Passover was finished in Jerusalem, he was expected to make the journey back home with them. You have to wonder how they could have missed Him. Was it because they didn’t expect He would ever not do as He was told? Perhaps He had been, in human terms, the perfect child until then. “Don’t worry about Jesus, he’ll be with us,” they might have said.

For some reason, as the family was leaving, they did not know He was missing. In fact, they didn’t know He was missing for some time, a day’s journey. People of Jesus’ time often made these journeys together with their families and with whole villages with the women and children in front to set the pace, the men and boys often followed behind. We can imagine Mary saying to Joseph, “I thought you had Him,” with Joseph’s expected response, “I thought you had him?”

Now Mary and Joseph are experiencing every parent’s nightmare. I’m sure many of you have had this experience too. You’re in a mall or a ballpark or any event where a crowd is present and you lose track of your child. Even if it’s just for an instant the panic sets in. The heart rate increases, the awful thoughts fill your mind.

There are several lessons we can learn from this part of Scripture. First and foremost we learn of how God values the gift of family.

Mary was an ordinary mother and Joseph an ordinary father but they were made special because God trusted them to raise His Son in accordance to the law. Which made losing Jesus even more of a concern.

Questions have to be surging through their minds, “Is He safe, Where could He be?” Guilt and shame must have overcome them as they asked themselves how they could be so foolish as to misplace their son…God’s Son.

The text tells us it was three days until they found Him. But finally they did. One can imagine the joy at finding Him mixed with the anger they even had to look. That’s how we are as parents, we can almost hear Mary saying “Thank God your safe,” followed by “Never do that again.”

Our text says that they were shocked to find Him in the temple.

Verse 48 says, “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.”

At first they were astonished but almost immediately they became irritated. Just place yourself in the place of Jesus’ parents. You need to be honest. No matter how your Son came to be whether naturally, by adoption or by divine intervention, you’d be a little miffed. As each day passes your just a little more panicked, the thoughts roaming around your head get a little worse, your more and more alarmed that the Son of God would do such a thing and then you find Him in the temple.

And to top it off, Jesus is seemingly unmoved when His parents finally find Him. Admit it, you’d be a little angry and you would react like any parent were to react if they lost their child only to find Him unremorseful. Right now they’re not thinking Holy Son they are thinking naughty son.

But none of this would have mattered if they had not had a deep affection for their son in the first place. Mary and Joseph would never have “sought Him anxiously” if there had not been a genuine love from parents to child. Their feelings are hurt just as ours would have been, but it is because they cared. God shows us here just how important family is.

And family doesn’t stop with our earthly mom and dad, there is one more thing to notice in these verses. In verse 48 Mary says, “Behold your father and I…” This is spelt with a small “f.” But in the next verse Jesus says, “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business, capital “F.” Here is where Jesus first introduces the knowledge of the concept of a heavenly Father.

Mary’s rebuke brings a respectful but shocking response, “Why do you seek me? Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus is essentially seeing, “Mom, what did you expect? You know why I was sent, why are you so astonished to find me in the temple? Jesus reminds His parents that He was first and foremost the coming Savior and that His obedience was to His heavenly Father first.

We see here that Jesus already knew that He had an agenda and that, at times, it would not coincide with that of his earthly parents. Jesus also shows here that His first concern is to prepare himself to do what He has been called to do, when God calls Him to do it. He knows that the best timing is God’s timing. We also must be prepared to go about God’s will, seeking His timing and not ours in everything we do.

Jesus is introducing us to a Father that is present and not detached. He is showing us that when we cry out “Abba Father,” it means something.

 

In the first 39 books of the Old Testament, the word “father” to describe God is only used 14 times and never in the personal sense. But when Jesus comes on to the scene here, He is referring to God as HIS Father and He never used that term differently. In His ministry there was no mistake of who Jesus was referring to when He spoke of His Father.

Another lesson to learn here is in the word study of Jesus’ use of the word, “must.” Jesus was on a mission which required certain things.

Here he says that He “must” be about His Father’s business. In Luke 4:43, He says, “I MUST preach the Good News of the kingdom of God…” Luke 9:22 quotes Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man MUST suffer many things… John 3:14 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so MUST the Son of Man be lifted up.”

Even at such a young age, Jesus knew that He had been sent here with a purpose and that to achieve that purpose, He would be required to do certain things.

Jesus knew, but Mary and Joseph were still in the dark, probably still more concerned with what they have just had to go through and the emotions that came with it. Verse 50 says that they didn’t understand a word He was saying. I can relate. I hear these words and I think of all those times my kids tried to talk their way out of trouble. Usually doesn’t work with me either. Now, here, Jesus was only stating the obvious, but a parents mind is too clouded during stressful times like this to hear anything, they are more interested in getting their own point across. It’s nice to hear that Jesus was submissive to them afterwards, a Good lesson for all you teenagers out there.

Yes, we finally learn that Jesus went back with His parents to Nazareth obediently, some versions say that Jesus was subject to His parents. But momma didn’t forget as it says, “Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.” The Greek word for “treasured up” here is the word diethrei which means to keep. This was not something she would not learn from.

No, momma is not going to forget this. At first it might be out of anger and disappointment, but later it would come back to here again when the true role of Christ would become more defined. At first she failed to understand and appreciate just what was happening.

It was probably only after His death and resurrection that the reason for the experience in the temple would become clear to her. I’m sure this is when many things became clear to her.

After this, Jesus would “increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” After this, His molding and shaping would continue. This is just another example of His humanity. Just like us, Jesus needed to be taught and shaped into the image that was in accordance to His heavenly Father’s will. Some of this shaping and molding would fall to His earthly parents but the most important things would be done by His heavenly Father.

We, too, continue to be shaped. First, Like Jesus, we are shaped intellectually. Jesus was said to have been “increasing in wisdom.” We too, through Word and Sacrament, are instilled by the Holy Spirit with the wisdom needed to follow the will of our heavenly Father. But this kind of wisdom is more than simple knowledge, it is a wisdom that comes from God about every part of who we are to be.

Secondly, like Christ, we are to mature physically, – “in stature.” The word here for grow can also mean advance. Our growth in Christ lasts throughout our life as we advance in our relationship of Him. Jesus did more than grow physically and, as we are called to do, He grew in relationship with the Father.

Finally, Jesus grew spiritually. It says He grew, “In favor with God and with men.” To grow in favor is to understand more fully what God means to someone. We are to understand better what God’s grace is all about and how God works to be a real part of our lives. As we do, we learn that, as God has graciously dealt with us, we should extend that same undeserved grace to others.

This section of Scripture has much to teach us about the one who would eventually give His life so that we could gain ours. We are made aware of just how much value God puts into the idea of family. How could God  demonstrate that any better than to put the care of His only Son into the hands of people as simple and faulty as we are. God placed Himself under the care of a human family. God loved humanity enough to trust them with something so precious.

And. as parents, we need to recognize that God may lead our children in a way we do not understand. Some lessons they learn might be painful and costly, but God is shaping them just the same. As such, we must never stand in the way of our children and their relationship with God.

 

We can all learn also, to respond to God in much the same way that Mary and Joseph did. Whenever our lives are touched by inconvenience and delay by something our children have done, we often become angry and impatient. Yes, we can read a little of that into the reactions of both, but in the end they didn’t let anger and frustration win out.

Just as Jesus was shaped, so will we be. And just like Jesus, our paths or the paths of our children might bring to others concern and anxiety. Our call is just like Christ’s, to be about our Father’s business. Trusting Him to guide us, we can always depend on Him to take us to where He would call us to be and may He give those we love, understanding and grace in the decisions we make in His name along the way. Amen