“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46-47).
Discipleship could be sitting at grandma’s feet, learning how to knit, or sitting on the garage floor, watching dad break down an engine. Discipleship is a learning time – a time to grow in our understanding of who we are, where we are going, and the world around us.
When Jesus came into the world, he connected himself to every part of the discipleship process in the Jewish culture of the day. He was named and circumcised on the eighth day. His parents presented him to God in the temple on the 40th day and offered the sacrifices demanded by the law (Leviticus 12).
Here in Luke 2, as he is coming of age, Jesus is brought to the temple for his confirmation service. He is to stand before the teachers of the law and give answers to see if he is ready to join the men in the synagogue.
It is a rite of passage many of you taken part of in your walk of faith. I have 14 young people in a class right now, spending Wednesday evenings together, moving from God existing to God being their God in Jesus Christ.
However, this young man was not like the other young men his age. What should not have taken so long took most of the day, causing Jesus to be left behind in the temple because he was about his Father’s business.
What stood in that temple that day was the very Word of God made flesh. What so many of the priests and Levites had spent their lives learning, was embodied in that young man there that day.
Every question they might ask, he asked even more of them. He gave them answers they could not find in the law alone. Standing before those men was the Son of Man, who knew more of God than they could ever wonder.
He was the one to whom they should be coming for learning, not the other way around. Where their intelligence and ability had brought them to positions of authority in the religious community, Jesus humiliated them by the words he spoke as only God could.
All of our discipleship, our growth as believers in Christ, is wrapped up in knowing him as our Lord. He is the very sermon of God, come to earth to relieve us of needing the right answer.
In Christ, we find a never-ending discipleship. We need to sit at his feet and learn – to gaze upon his face captured in the words of Scripture – so that we might know him and be his disciples in this world.
Discipleship is the work of God upon the hearts of men, to transform them from self-interested sinners to children of God. We live and breathe by his Word, given in Jesus Christ for the sake of sinners – for you and me.
Carleton Smee is pastor of the Heartland Community Lutheran Parish (ELCA), including Akeley First Lutheran Church and Bethany Lutheran Church in Nevis.