05 January 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Boy

It is marvelous, how ordinary the childhood of Jesus must have been, in every way, save only without sin.  He was a little Child growing up in the midst of His people, experiencing the bump and grind and cut and thrust of daily life with all its ups and downs and ins and outs.

Keep your eye on that Boy.  For He is our childhood’s pattern, not only by way of example, but as the very Image in which we have been created.  He lives the true divine life in His own human flesh and blood; and precisely that is the true human life, which you also are called to live.

Your first and foremost duty, as a Christian, is to listen to the preaching of God’s Word, to gladly hear and learn it; and, as a child of God, also to live according to His Word.  That is to worship Him in faith and love; to fear, love, and trust in Him above everything else; to confess what He has spoken; and to call upon His Name in every situation, to pray, praise, and give thanks.  It is to go up to the Feast, and then to live from the Feast back to your station in life; therein to love and serve your neighbor as yourself, and above all to forgive those who sin against you, as you are forgiven.

In all things, keep your eye on that Boy, Jesus, and do not lose sight of Him in any of your doings.  For one thing, it is true that you should follow His example.  Not so much the hypothetical, “What Would Jesus Do?”  But, “What Did Jesus Do?”  Which means, in the case of the Holy Gospel here at hand, that you should go to church and pay careful attention to the Word of God; and that you should honor your father and mother, and submit to them, respecting their parental authority.

Follow the example of Christ Jesus, in these and other ways, within your own vocation — and keep your eye on Him — especially because He is your Salvation and your very Life with God.

It is in Him that you know the Mysteries of God, His good and gracious will for you, and His great salvation.  It is in Him, the incarnate Son, that God is your Father; and through Him, also, that you receive the Holy Spirit, the Pledge of your inheritance as a son of God by grace and by adoption.

It is in the Lord Jesus that you live before God, in the flesh, even now in your pilgrimage on earth, holy and blameless, in righteousness and purity.  Because it is in Christ Jesus that your life is already safely hidden with God the Father in the heavenly places.

For His Body is the Ark of the New Covenant, the Holy of Holies, the Temple of God.  And He is both your Priest and your King, the Priesthood and the Kingdom of God.  He not only offers but is the burnt offering and the peace offering, who has prepared, and serves, and is the Feast for all of His servants.  He is the true Passover Lamb of God, who has been sacrificed for us.

Where Jesus is, there is your God; there is your life and you salvation; there is all that you need for both body and soul, every good and perfect gift, and every grace and blessing.

He gives you life forever, and He gives meaning to your life on earth.

Keep your eye on Him, therefore, and stay with Him.  Keep Him with you in all your going out and coming in.  For even though He fills the universe and cannot be contained; and even though He is present unto all things, which are His creation, to uphold and sustain them; yet, He is not to be found apart from His Word, and He is not accessible or available to you outside of His House.

But far too easily, you depart from the Feast, and you return to your chores and regular routines, without having the Lord Jesus with you, and without even realizing that He’s not along!

It is not that He has lost you, but that you have left Him behind, insofar as your cares and concerns, your worries and occupations, your attention and energies are directed away from Him and His Word to other things.  As though anything else were as vital and important as the Word of God.

You go along with the crowd in the caravan, and how quickly a day can go by without a thought of Jesus.  And then a day becomes a week, a month, a year or more.

Much the same thing happens when your own preoccupations and pursuits distract and divert you from the duties of your office and stations in life: When you dishonor and disobey your parents; when you neglect your spouse and children; when you work for the love of money, instead of for the love of God and man; or when you play and party instead of working to serve your neighbor.

Whatever the case may be, at some point, hopefully sooner than later, you’re going to realize that something is terribly wrong.  Your life may be full and busy, hectic and overwhelming, and yet there is this deep lack, this gaping hole, this hollow emptiness that aches within you.  There is also the distress and anxiety of duties you have neglected; promises and obligations that you have not kept or fulfilled; friends and neighbors you have forgotten and failed to help; and your own family, who miss you when you’re missing in action, and, truth be told, you miss them, too, in that case.

For all of that, what’s really missing at the core of all your troubles is Christ Jesus.

So, the big question is, where do you go looking for Jesus?

It is so typical, according to your fallen nature, that you go looking for Him, for His life and light and love, in all the wrong ways and all the wrong places: Either in the ways of the world, which have the appearance of wisdom, success, and popularity; or else, you go looking for “Jesus” in what is already friendly and familiar to you.  So it is that, with misguided zeal, you make a false god, an idol, out of your family and friends and your own frantic efforts.  And all the while, you are dying inside and becoming more and more anxious and afraid.  Because you can’t find Him.

Beloved, it is the Lord Jesus who shall find you, by seeking you out and calling you back to Himself.  He returns you to your Holy Baptism, in which He is with you and for you, by the preaching of repentance and forgiveness.  He returns you to the Temple of His Church on earth, to the preaching and catechesis of His Word: There, too, He is with you and for you; not as a means to some other end, but as your very life and salvation in Himself.

It is not that you must fetch Him back to you, but, if you would be saved, He must bring you back to His God and Father in and with Himself.

Remember that He has lived His divine life in your flesh; that He has lived your human life in His own flesh and blood.  The almighty and eternal Son of God, by whom all things are made and are upheld — He became a Child in His Mother’s womb; He was born into the world; and then He grew and increased through all the stages of childhood into adulthood.  He got stronger and taller, and smarter and wiser.  He grew up and matured in all things, in favor with God and man.

He heard and gave attention to the Word of God!  (He who is the very Word of God in Person!)  He went up to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to the Feast; and there, in time, by His sacrificial death, He became the Temple and the Feast for you.

Through death into life, by His Cross and Resurrection and Ascension, He has entered the Father’s house, the Holy of Holies made without hands, eternal in the heavens.  So that, now, is your “childhood pattern,” the way in which you walk with Him from this vale of tears to the Father.

You know the Way, dear child of God, because He is the Way.  You know where to find Him, because He calls you by His Word and Spirit, and He reveals Himself to you here in His House.

But He also knows that you are sinful; that your mortal flesh and blood grow weak and weary; and that you lose sight of Him and lose yourself in all the cares and occupations of this life.

Therefore, in such love for you — which is the true wisdom, grace, and glory of God — He comes down to you, in order to go with you, and He humbles Himself to serve you and to care for you.  His Word and Spirit attend you on your way, both to and fro.  Your Baptism remains and avails for you.  And His flesh and blood accompany you, within your own body of flesh and blood.

In all your going out and coming in, from the day of your Baptism, yes, even from before the foundation of the world, from this time forth, even forevermore, He goes with you all the way.

As surely as He has been crucified for your transgressions and raised from the dead on the third day for your justification, so surely does He raise you from the dead, day by day, through His forgiveness of all your sins with His Word of the Gospel.  And so shall He raise you from the dead at the last, once and for all, to live with Him in His Kingdom, in body and soul, forever and ever.

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

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