Monday, September 14, 2015

The Seven First Words of Jesus (Part 1)

We often hear messages on the Words of our Lord from the Cross, the “Seven Saying of the Lord from the Cross”. We also hear many thoughts on the “Seven I Am’s” in John’s gospel, but very rarely to we hear any thoughts on the first seven words of our blessed Lord Jesus. These words of our Lord are very instructive. They show us the Lord’s commitment and purpose and display from such an early age the prophetic truth of Psalm 40:6-8, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”

My Father’s Business (Luke 2:39-50) 
Up to this point in the gospel of Luke the writer has presented compelling testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (1:35), the One through whom God would redeem and save His people (1:68-69, 78-79, 2:10-11, 27-32, 34, 38). But in our passage Luke turns from the testimony of others to the testimony of the Lord Himself at the age of twelve years old!

Between Luke 2:38 and 2:49 we have what some have called the “Silent years of the Childhood of Christ.” In this short passage we have every that is known about the life of the Lord Jesus from infancy to the outset of His public ministry. Notice in 2:39 Nazareth is mentioned. The town of Nazareth was a despised, poverty stricken town of southern Galilee and was the home of our Lord for about 30 years. In Matthew 2:23 we read that the Lord Jesus would be called a Nazarene. This is very important, the word Nazareth is connected to the word sprout or branch! There are at least five important Old Testament passages where the word Sprout or Branch or used and each of them are very significant reminding us that the Lord Jesus coming from Nazareth is the fruitful Branch!

1. The Branch of David (Jer. 23:5, 33:15, Is. 11:1). This would correspond to the Son of David in gospel of Matthew.

2. “My Servant the Branch” (Zech. 3:8) corresponding to the Son of Toil in the gospel of Mark.

3. “The man whose name is the Branch” (Zech. 6:12) corresponding to the character of the Lord Jesus as Luke portrays the Son of man.

4. “The Branch of the Lord” (Is. 4:2), the glorious Son of God, as John’s gospel describes Him.

In 2:40 we read that the Lord Jesus as a child He “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.” This demonstrates that the Lord Jesus was fully human. He developed as all children do yet unaffected by sin. We also read that “the grace of God was upon Him.” The grace view here is not the saving, redeeming, grace that God grants to undeserving sinners. It was the favor of God granted to His “beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.”

At the Age of Twelve
It was customary for a Jewish boy from twelve years old and onward to go up to the temple at Jerusalem to appear before the Lord three times in the year, at Passover, at Pentecost and at the Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 23:14-17, Deut. 16:16). There are two things to notice here, the place and the period. The place was Jerusalem; one of the first times Jerusalem is alluded to in Scripture is back in Genesis 14:18-24. There we are introduced to Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem, Ps. 76:2), priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham, spread before him emblems of Calvary and received tithes from his hand. Whoever Melchizedek was and whatever he was, Jesus entered Jerusalem that day as its true Priestly King! 

Jerusalem would also bring to mind David and Solomon, both pictures of the blessed Lord Jesus. But another picture would be found not only in the place, but also in the period of time it was, Passover. This would take one back to Exodus 12 and all the Passover celebrated since which all prefigured the One true Passover who in just 12 more years would be identified as the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:27). 

It is striking that there is only one event recorded from the birth of our Lord to the beginning of His public ministry. The lessons here are many I’m sure but one really stands out. Joseph and Mary supposed the Lord Jesus to be with them (Lk.2:43-44). This is a mistake of presumption, supposing the Lord is present when He is absent. In John 20:11-18, Mary Magdalene made the mistake of perception; she supposed he was absent when He was present. This was also the case in Luke 24; the two disciples thought the Lord was not with them when He was. While the Lord was never lost, He was right where He was supposed to be, there is a sense they lost Him or at least lost sight of Him. This has some lesson for us, how do we lose sight of the Lord in our lives? 

First, we lose sight of the Lord by not giving Him the first place, by allowing something else to take our attention and our affection away from Him. The first step of recovery is to miss Him! So many believers go days, months even years without realizing that they left their first love (Rev. 2:1-7). They not only had to miss Him, but they had to search for Him and where did they find Him? They found Him in the temple, a house of prayer and a place where people were concerned about the Word of God and where Christ was in the midst (2:46)! They had to retrace their steps in order to find Him; the way of recovery is always to go back to the place of departure! 

It might be good for us to just say another word about where they found Him. He was not only in the temple, but He was in the midst (in the center)! This is always the proper place for our Lord to be! When we trace this throughout the New Testaments the search ends in our own hearts and we must ask ourselves “Is He at the center of our thoughts and actions?” 

Trace this through: 

· On the Cross-He is in the center of two thieves, at the center of two eternities, and at the center of a holy righteous God and sinful men (Lk. 23:33, Jn. 19:18).

· In Resurrection-He is in the center of His own to bring peace (Jn. 20:19, 26).

· Christ in the Midst of the Sea – in Life’s Trials (Mk. 6:47).

· When we gather unto His name (Mt. 18:20) He is in the midst of the assembly.

· As the heavenly choir director (Heb. 2:12).

· Christ in the Midst of the Seven Assemblies “These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” (Rev. 2:1; 1:13).

· Christ in the Midst of the Throne – the Lamb Just Slain “And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God which are sent into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6).

What where His First Words
Listen to the very first recorded words of our blessed Savior, "And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Mary had spoken of “Your father and I have sought you” meaning Joseph. But the Lord said, “My Father’s business" making His claim to deity. Only He had the eternal right to use such intimate language about the Father. Later to Mary Magdalene He would say, “I ascend unto my Father and to your Father” (Jn. 20:17). He was Mary’s Father and ours by redemptive grace, but His father by eternal relationship. The Lord Jesus used this term when He prayed, when He taught and preached, He used it in joy, in grief, in life and in death. He addressed His Father as Holy Father, Righteous Father, Abba Father. He prayed “Father keep them in your name,” “Father I will that they shall be with me,” “Father if it be possible,” ”Father forgive them,” and “Father into your hands.” He spoke of “the Father’s House, and the Father’s will. What will learn from all these different ways the Lord Jesus spoke of the Father is who was before. When we hear Him say “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business we learn what was before Him! 

In this word “must” we have the heart of surrender! At least ten times in the gospel of Luke this word “must” appears concerning the Lord Jesus (Lk. 2:49, 4:43, 9:22, 13:33, 17:25, 19:5, 22:7, 22:37, 24:7, 44)! We see this in the gospel of John at least another five times related to the Lord and His work (Jn. 3:30, 4:24, 9:4, 10:16, 12:34, 20:9). It was a heart of surrendered love that could say, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work,” and again “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me,” “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn. 4:34, 5:30, 6:38).

His first recorded words remind us why He came into this world as a man. When all others had failed there was One whose heart and purpose stayed true!

But there is one more thing we need to see connected to these first words of our Lord. In Luke 2:50-51, we see the Lord Jesus went back to “Nazareth with Joseph and Mary and was subject to them.” The fact that He must be about His Father’s business did not mean that He would ignore or neglect His earthly responsibility. 

When we look at these first words that are recorded of our Lord Jesus, it is no wonder that years later the heavens were torn open and the Father would declare, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

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