THE HIDDEN MESSIAH
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
January 22, 2017
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
— Luke 2:39-52, ESV
At the age of twelve, Mozart was composing his first opera, Julie Andrews sang on a London stage, and Derek Trucks started playing lead guitar for the Allman Brothers band. By his twelfth birthday, Pablo Picasso had finished four paintings. At twelve years of age, Tiger Woods qualified for his first Junior World Championship, which he would win, and a kid from Akron named LeBron James was recruited to play for a select AAU basketball team.
Greatness is often apparent at a young age, even as young as twelve. This is true of Jesus, too, although no one seemed to fully appreciate it at the time. Hidden in this exclusive look into His childhood, Luke gives us some signs which point to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, the King of Israel, the Savior of the world.
This picture is precious to us because it is the only one in the photo album, otherwise known as the Gospels. Baby pictures can be found in Matthew and Luke, but Luke alone gives us the portrait of Jesus as an adolescent. Found after three days missing by frightened and faithful parents, the revelation of Jesus in the temple is more profound now than people realized then. Can you see Jesus in the picture? Sure you can. But, can you see the hidden Messiah?
The Messiah was hidden from godly parents.
God made a good choice in giving Himself to Mary and Joseph as parents. How could a perfect, faithful, and wise God do otherwise? Mary and Joseph were not perfect, but they were faithful and wise.
Only faithful and wise Jews would raise their children according to the Law of the Lord. Only faithful and wise Israelites would make the rugged round trip of nearly two hundred miles between Nazareth and Jerusalem to honor God at the Passover. Only faithful and wise parents would pass along faith and wisdom to their firstborn son, even though He was the personification of them both.
Faith is a gift from God. Wisdom is applying that faith to every area of your life. Faith is the most important thing you can pass along to your children, and wisdom dictates taking them to the house of God at every opportunity. Faithful and wise were these two godly parents, Mary and Joseph.
Yet, they really didn’t see Jesus as the Messiah in this episode of His life. They did not follow Jesus, but rather lost Him in the caravan (which was not a Dodge, but a large entourage of family and friends from Nazareth). They did not worship Jesus as God the Son, in spite of the testimonies of the Magi, Simeon, and Anna at His birth. When they found Jesus in the temple after three days, they scolded Him as if he were an ordinary twelve-year-old boy. When Jesus explained, they simply stored away the information for later consideration. Then they took Jesus back home and kept Him there, hidden and silent, for eighteen long years.
Overall I commend Mary and Joseph. They were faithful believers in the Old Covenant sense, and good and godly parents. But even these faithful, wise, good, and godly parents did not recognize the messianic attributes of Jesus at the age of twelve.
The Messiah was hidden from religious rulers.
The last time Luke looked at Jesus in the temple, Simeon and Anna gave messianic testimony about Him shortly after His birth. Their words had either not been told or had been completely forgotten by the religious rulers in Jerusalem. When the same boy appears in their midst of the temple twelve years later, His messianic presence seemed to be hidden from their learned eyes and ears.
To Jesus’ credit, He knew it was not yet His time. Instead of lecturing the religious rulers, as He would eventually do, Jesus just listened at this juncture. He asked and answered questions, but never let on that He Himself was the Lord of the temple. The temple rulers and teachers were amazed, the Bible says, but they took no action to worship Jesus or acknowledge Him as the Messiah in any form or fashion. They should have been sitting at Jesus’ feet, even His small, twelve-year-old feet, rather than vice versa.
Surely they were looking for the Messiah. But, they did not expect Him to come out of a cadre of Nazareth pilgrims. They were looking for military might, not childhood faith. They were listening for the proclamations of a king, not an ordinary servant. Jesus, at twelve and afterward, did not neatly fit their bill.
However, I place no great blame on the religious rulers than I would the godly parents of Jesus. The fulness of time for our Lord to present Himself to Israel and the world had not yet come. God has a schedule and He aims to keep it. His divine calendar revolves not around the sun and moon, but the Son of God, if you can spot Him.
The Messiah remains hidden to most people.
There were twelve years between the birth of Christ and this misadventure in the temple. Eighteen more years would pass before Jesus was baptized by John to embark on His three-year public ministry. Two thousand years have passed since our Savior lived, died, and rose again. And to this very day, the Messiah remains hidden to the vast majority of Jews and Gentiles alike.
Forget the birth and passion narrative for a moment and just look at Jesus at twelve. What do you see? What do you hear? A little lost boy, or the God and Savior who can save lost people to the uttermost?
I see a person who perfectly fits the prophetic description of the Messiah, especially that of Old Testament prophet Isaiah. While most people look for messianic deliverance in political power and military might, Jesus came the first time as a humble, obedient servant. People from Nazareth were deemed lowly by nature when they trekked to Jerusalem. Look at the twelve-year-old Jesus as He humbly and obediently submits Himself to His earthly parents. Some country singer once said, “O Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.” This statement is actually true about Jesus, yet He was often overlooked because of His great humility and obedient servanthood.
I hear a person who openly admitted that He is the divine, only begotten, Son of the true and living God. “My Father,” the juvenile Jesus confessed concerning Jehovah. When He claimed deity as an adult, the religious rulers wanted to stone Him. When He claimed it here, at age twelve, I suppose they just chuckled a little bit. Even Mary and Joseph did not hear Him clearly as the Word of God, but packed the words away to bring them out at another time. What do you see and hear when you look and listen to the twelve-year-old Jesus?
See and hear the hidden Messiah, the face of God and the voice of Christ in a young boy. His character is consistent with Old Covenant prophecy. His claim to be the Son of God is verified by His New Covenant ministry. He is the Messiah, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the Savior of the world!
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe that He is the eternal, pre-incarnate, born in Bethlehem, lost in Jerusalem, baptized by John, crucified by Pilate, raised on the third day, ascended into Heaven, soon to return Messiah.
Follow the Lord Jesus Christ, as He appeared throughout His first advent. Do not necessarily shun political and military solutions to problems, but primarily devote yourself to being a humble, obedient servant to both God and man. Be a servant, like Christ at His first coming, and you will rule and reign with Him at His second coming.
Don’t hide Jesus. Never be ashamed of the gospel, the church, or the Christian way of life. Give thanks for the joy and suffering it brings. Make it your ambition to always be seen in your Father’s house and listening to God’s word. Our Lord Jesus Christ may have been hidden at birth, at the temple, even on the cross. But do not let the Messiah be hidden from you.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org