Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In My Father's House (part 5 of 5)

Having looked “among their relatives and acquaintances” (Luke 2:44b), “they did not find Him” (2:45a). As it relates to Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, as previously discussed, of course they did not find Him. Jesus was not attempting to establish the kingdom of God in the expected way of a revolution by overthrow at force of arms, so a new leader of the movement was not a necessity. Beyond that, we know that such was not necessary, for the One that had been killed and buried, was going to be returning to life, to reign over the kingdom that was being established through His suffering and vindication.

We go on to read that, not finding Him, “they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him” (2:45b). As we continue to connect the events surrounding Jesus at the age of twelve with the always-looked-to “Christ-event,” we can here begin to think of the women that came to the tomb of Jesus. Naturally, they were not going to look for Jesus, nor were they expecting to find anything but a dead body, as there was no expectation of His Resurrection though He had spoken of it many times. Rather, they were going to anoint His body with spices, in accordance with standard burial custom. When did they go to the tomb? It was after three days. What do we know about the search conducted by Jesus’ parents? It was “After three days they found Him in the Temple courts” (2:46a). To this was added that He was “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (2:46b). With this, we are compelled to consider the scene at Jesus’ empty tomb, when “two men…in dazzling attire” (24:4) spoke to the women who had come there, saying “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (24:5b-7). When Jesus was lost to His parents, with a very natural fear, we can presume that they considered the possibility that He was dead. This was not the case. They found Him in the Temple courts, and effectively, He was raised from the dead before their eyes.

In those courts, it was said that “all who heard Jesus were astonished at His understanding and His answers” (2:47) and that “His parents…were overwhelmed” (2:48a). Returning to the story of the empty tomb, having heard the words of the two men, the women “told these things to the apostles” (24:10b). The women were met with a rightful skepticism and incredulity. Certainly, Jesus’ disciples were astonished at this story of a Resurrection. Because such a thing simply did not take place under normal circumstances, just like the idea of a twelve-year-old boy being allowed to speak with the teachers in the Temple courts, the understandable reaction was that “these words seemed like pure nonsense to them” (24:11a). Furthermore, having heard these nonsensical words, “they (the disciples) did not believe them” (24:11b). However, “Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent down and saw only the strips of linen cloth; then He went home, wondering what had happened” (24:12). Peter found himself even more astonished, and though wondering what had happened, we can imagine that he was inclined to begin believing the reports of the women. Like Jesus’ parents after the conclusion of the ordeal of their missing child, Peter, as he began to consider the possibility that Jesus was alive, might very well have been “overwhelmed.” Because of Jesus actions in allowing Himself to be tortured and crucified, of His putting Peter in the position to deny his Lord, and causing all of His close followers to cower in fear over what was going to happen to them, Peter may very well have been wondering, again like Jesus’ parents, “why have You treated us like this?” (2:28b)

The words that immediately followed, from Mary, that “Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously” (2:48c), receive their echo from the lips of those that we know of as the “Emmaus road disciples.” While unknowingly walking with Jesus, after a three day lapse in time that had been previously and similarly and anxiously experienced by Jesus’ parents, they said “we had hoped that He was the One Who was going to redeem Israel” (24:21a). In the Temple courts, Jesus said to His mother, “Why were you looking for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be in My Father’s house?” (2:49) To these two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus said in response to their anxious declaration, “You foolish people---how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (24:26) What was His glory? Truly, it was His Father’s house. It was that which was the long-intended purpose of the Father of the kingdom of God, that had now been inaugurated in the world through the Resurrection.
The Temple was the place of the “shekinah,” which was the glorious presence of God, and the singular place within His creation where He had previously said that He would dwell among His people. Now, in Jesus’ resurrected glory, and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth, the whole world was to be filled with His glory. With His Resurrection, Jesus did in fact fulfill the hopes of the redemption of Israel, God’s covenant people, and a new order of creation that had always been connected with the Resurrection of the righteous dead was launched. Because of His Resurrection, the Father’s house, the Temple Courts, must be thought of as the kingdom of God that is a renewed creation that has begun to experience the Resurrection power of the Gospel of Jesus. Yes, the whole of creation, with Jesus as its King, is now the house and Temple of God, and from that time, until the time of the final consummation of that kingdom, Jesus is most certainly in His Father’s house, and about His Father’s business, working God’s purposes through those who are of a trusting allegiance upon Him and His Lordship. With such an understanding of the nature of the Father’s house and the Father’s business, as the Temple courts---the place of God’s glory---extends to the entire world, we should join with the disciples, as they were witnesses of His Resurrection and His departure, and be “continually in the Temple courts blessing God” (24:53), “clothed with power from on high” (24:49b).

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