Throughout his record of the Holy Gospel, St. Luke answers a fundamental question: Where do you find God? Or, to say it better: Where does God reveal Himself and give Himself to you?
The answer, of course, is that God — the one true God, the Holy Trinity — reveals Himself and His Glory in the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is the almighty and eternal Son of God, who has become flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood; who was crucified for our transgressions and raised from the dead for our justification. It is in Him that God the Father is made known, and by Him that the Holy Spirit is poured out upon His people.
So, it is in the Lord Jesus Christ that you find God (or He finds you). But that raises another, more immediate question: Where do you find Jesus? Where does He reveal and give Himself to you?
In answer to those questions, you have set before you this particular story of the Boy Jesus, unique to St. Luke’s Gospel, which tells you where and how to find Him. It accentuates and reinforces the answer that was given this past Sunday, as well, that the Lord has come to His Temple; that He reveals and gives Himself to His people in the Temple. Here, again, it is in the Temple that Christ Jesus is found — specifically, in the speaking and hearing of the Word of God. And that remains the case, not only throughout the Holy Gospel, but so also for you, and throughout all the ages.
Not that you must find your way to Palestine or make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem — only to find that, of course, that Temple has long since been destroyed, not one stone left upon another. But, no, in Christ Jesus those Old Testament means of grace, the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Temple, have been fulfilled and transformed. The Word of God has become Flesh and is perfected in His Body and Blood. The Holy Scriptures really are the Word of Christ Jesus from the start. And the true Temple of God is the Body of the same Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.
So, then, the Temple is found wherever the Body of the Lord Jesus is found. And He is found in His Father’s House, doing the works of His Father, wherever the Holy Scriptures are preached in His Name, and wherever His Holy Sacraments are faithfully administered according to His Word.
In particular, as we are well aware from the story for which our Emmaus congregation is named, the Lord Jesus opens the Scriptures to you and leads you in the Way of His Cross and Resurrection to find Him and receive Him in “the Breaking of the Bread,” that is to say, in the Holy Communion of His true Body and true Blood, given and poured out for you to eat and to drink in holy faith.
So, then, as a good Christian and a faithful disciple of Jesus, you go up to the Lord’s House for the Feast on the Lord’s Day. It is truly meet, right, and salutary that you should do so. But then what?
As you return from this Temple of the Lord to your own house and home, to your busy, hectic life, to your own business and busyness, and to all of your hobbies, pastimes, and other distractions, how often are you leaving the Lord Jesus behind? You pray that He would abide with you in love, and He does. But do you abide with Him? Or do you forget Him and go your way without Him?
Is that not the root cause of all the worry and anxiety that permeate your days and nights? You are so pre-occupied with yourself and with your own concerns that you lose track of Jesus altogether and leave Him behind — far too often without even realizing that He is missing from your life.
When you are made aware of His absence in your life — by the preaching of the Law, or by some crisis or disaster that befalls you — then your first instinct is to go looking for Him in all the wrong ways and all the wrong places. Forgetting the Word and promise of the Holy Gospel, you search for Him among your family and friends, in whatever is familiar and comfortable and meaningful to you. But that is not the way that you will ever be able to find the Lord Jesus.
Almost as a last resort, in desperation you are driven back to the Lord’s House, to the Lord’s Word. And that is where you finally find Him. Or, rather, that is where He finds you at last. For you have been so anxious in your doubts and fears and sinful unbelief, He actually catches you by surprise. You are amazed and astonished at Him, as the world and your flesh always are by His Cross.
Notwithstanding all your missteps and shortcomings, this is where He is for you, and this is where He finds you. He is in His Father’s House, giving attention to the things of His Father. In this case, as true Man, and as a faithful child of God, He is found listening to the called and ordained teachers of His own Holy Scriptures, that He should hear and learn the things concerning Himself and grow in the grace and knowledge of His God and Father. So also do you find this Jesus in the Church of His Word and Sacrament, in the preaching of His Gospel, in His Body and His Blood.
And far from reprimanding you or punishing you, what does He do but forgive you, and comfort you, and return with you from His Father’s House to your house and home and to your daily life.
All of this He does for you, by His grace alone, in His divine love and tender mercy toward you. And for your part, you abide with Him and keep Him with you as you go about your days and carry out your callings, by remaining in His Word throughout the week. Not only in these holy weeks of Christmas, when you have the blessed opportunity to be in the Lord’s House each day, but so also in the piety and rhythm of your days and weeks throughout the year.
As you receive the Body of Christ in the Sacrament, live as a member of His Body in the world. Return each day to the significance of your Holy Baptism by way of contrition and repentance, confession and absolution. Sanctify the time that you are given by the prayer and catechesis of the Word of Christ as you go about your routines. Live to and from the Lord’s Altar, knowing that His God and Father is your God and Father, His House is your house and home, and His business is your life and salvation. And rejoice that He goes with you all the way, today, tomorrow, every day.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.