About My Father’s Business

Text: Luke 1:1-4, 2:40-52
Date: Sunday September 17, 2023

Introduction: Luke Setup

Today we begin a brand new journey, going verse by verse through the Gospel of Luke, a biography in the Bible of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am so excited to dig into this with you all today. My aim today is two fold. First, I want to give us some foundation to read this book and no what we’re reading. Then, we will dig into our first passage together. The Gospel of Luke begins with a brief introduction by its author.

Luke 1:1–4 ESV Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

A Luke the Beloved Physician

First, who is the author. The author is a man named Luke. We meet Luke throughout the New Testament. Unlike Matthew and John who were disciples of Jesus, Luke was a not a disciple of Jesus directly, as far as we know. Rather, Luke was an early convert to Christianity. And in the early New Testament he played a significant role.

Paul to the Colossians: At the end of Colossians, the Apostles refers to the Luke as the “beloved physician.”

Colossians 4:14 ESV Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.

So we know that Luke was a very learned man of his day. At one point was working with a man named Demas to help Paul. His learning is also evidenced by the writing style of the book.

Paul to Timothy: But then there is another verse from Paul. This time later in his life. The last letter Paul wrote shortly before his death he wrote to Timothy. And among his final words in that letter he writes,

2 Timothy 4:9–11 ESV Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

The writer of this narration of the life of Jesus was beloved of the Apostle Paul. When others had abandoned the Apostle out of fear of imprisonment themselves, Luke stayed.

B Luke/Acts As A Two Part History

He wrote this as a two part history of the life of Jesus and the history of the early Church. Those two parts are both in our Bible, the Gospel of Luke which we are studying now tells the story up through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. And the Book of Acts tells the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and how God used them to plant Churches throughout the world. Part one and part two.

C Theophilus

In these first verses we see that Paul is writing to Theophilus. The name itself means ‘lover of God.’ It seems that Theophilus was a wealthy man who hired Luke as a historian to lay out the full story of Jesus. More than likely Theophilus had heard of Christ, heard a number of the stories. But Luke did the hard work of interviewing eye-witness.

Luke 1:2 ESV just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,

And then he compiled those stories and testimonies into this book.

D Luke’s Purpose: Carefully & Orderly

What was his purpose in writing. He says that he has given an ‘orderly account’ so that,

Luke 1:4 ESV that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke wants his reader to be able to sort through all the ideas that are out there about Jesus was and what the significance of the events around his life were, and wants us to have certainty. And he interviewed the eye witnesses. He visited the places. He spoke with those who had been healed by Jesus, and he wrote it down as it happened, so that we might have certainty. I suppose that in this room there are some at least, who have some doubts about Jesus. There is an inkling of faith, but there are great doubts because there are all sorts of messages and ideas out there about who Jesus is and what the significance of his life was. Well, let us set the record straight. Let us have certainty.

E Why We Are Skipping the Birth Narrative

That is my brief introduction to this series. We are going to jump in now to Luke 2:40-52 which tells the story of Jesus at the age of twelve. And the reason we are beginning there is because we are going to come back to the rest of chapter one and two in a few months for our Advent Series. The rest of chapter one and two are about the birth of Christ, and since we’ll be celebrating that soon, we thought we would save it for just a bit.

Part 2: Jesus in the Temple

The story of Jesus in the Temple is the only account we have of Jesus after his birth and before the start of his ministry when he was thirty years old. This is it. This little story gives us an insight into what Jesus was like, as a young twelve year old boy.


Let us read the account together

Luke 2:40–52 ESV And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 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, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 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.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 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. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Caravans: We have to place ourself into the first century context. Back on those days, when people traveled long distance they traveled in caravans, groups of family and extended family in great packs of people. Usually the women would be up front, and the men and the youth would be in the rear. And so, you can imagine Joseph travelling in the back might have thought that Jesus was up front with Mary, and Mary up front might have thought that Jesus was in the back. They had traveled for the annual feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. They had brought Jesus with them because he was twelve years old. At thirteen years old he would celebrate his bar mitzvah, and so it would not be uncommon to bring the twelve year old boys with them so they can see the place, get familiar with the scene and what their bar mitzvah will be like. After about a day of traveling home they realized Jesus was not with them.

Find Jesus: They race back to Jerusalem and frantically search for their boy, and what they find startles them. It is now the third day since Jesus has been separated from them. And they find him in the temple sitting among the teachers. This was a common scene. After all the crowds would leave, there would normally an extended few days where the teachers and rabbis would catch up. They’d share the most recent theological ponderings and ideas from the literature. The younger boys in training would often sit and listen on these sessions. This is precisely what Jesus is doing. But two things stick out from this moment that set Jesus apart.


The first insight has to do with the nature of Jesus. Here, at just twelve years Jesus is astounding the religious leaders of the day with his responses to their discussions. Now it would be easy at this point to say, ‘Well thats easy because he was God in the flesh, he already knows everything.’ That would be a mistake. Verse 52 says,

Luke 2:52 ESV And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Fully God & Fully Man: Jesus was fully God and fully man. But Jesus did not rely on his divinity to do the works of his humanity. His divinity is astounding part of the history of humanity, that second person of the Trinity took on flesh. His divinity was required for him to defeat death. Yet, his humanity was full. Jesus was perfect morally, but he had to learn and grow like all of us. He had to study the Scriptures, and learn from teachers. And the Holy Spirit perfectly endowed him for this work.

Perfect Yet Without Sin: When it says that he “grew in favor with God and man,” Jesus did not grow as we do, from sinfulness to obedience. No Jesus never sinned. He was sinless in action and in thought. He never experienced in his own emotions even the first motions of sin, the slightest inclination to disobey God or any of his laws. He was perfect, yet without sin. And yet his perfection does not mean that he never spilled a bowl of soup, or never had a hard time remembering a Bible verse. On non moral issues, he had to grow like the rest of us.

This Gives Great Comfort: What are the practical uses of this wonderful doctrine of Christ’s human growth? I think the New City Catechism, that we use with our children in this Church, answers that well. It asks the question, “Why must the redeemer be truly human?” And the answer provided is,

“That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.”

New City Catechism

An Increased Awe at Christ: First, this ought to cause an increased awe at Jesus Christ. He perfectly obeyed the whole law even as a child stumbling through those awkward puberty years. With all the temptations around him, and all the weaknesses of the human flesh, he is the only one to do it perfectly. Every time we see our own weakness, we recognize our proneness to fatigue, our proneness to forget, our proneness to just want to be selfish, we look to Christ and say, ‘He really did it perfectly.’

An Increased Gratefulness For Christ: Secondly, Christ was able to pay the penalty owed for our sin, because of his humanity. The Word of God clothed himself in skin and flesh in order to die, because death was the proper penalty for sin. The curse of the law required blood. Jesus draped himself in blood in order to fulfill the law on our behalf. Christ accomplished what we never could. This ought to cause a humble gratefulness in our hearts to God.


When they finally find Jesus, they are besides themselves. They are likely a bit embarassed as well, seeing the scene that Jesus has made within the temple walls with all the religious elite. But Jesus responds to them by saying,

Luke 2:49 ESV And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

What an insight into Jesus, this twelve year old boy learning who he was, learning the Scriptures, learning the traditions. Another translation reads, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business.” That is the sense of what he is communicating. In those days, after a celebration like this, the Elders and Rabbis would always stick around for a few additional days to discuss issues, and the upcoming youth would sit at their feet. The idea is not ‘being in a physical space’ so much as Jesus is saying, “Didn’t you know that I would be doing the things of God.” In other words, “Mom and Dad, you brought me to the Temple. You know me, I’m your Son. Didn’t you think that it would be right for me to sit and learn from the brightest and wisest rabbis of our day when I had the opportunity.” This was natural for Jesus, especially as a twelve year old boy who was discerning who He was, understanding with greater insight and clarity his nature, his purpose, his role.

A Expand on Jesus

The pursuit of God and the desire for God was the central driving thread of Jesus, even as a twelve year old boy. We must not forget verse 51 which says,

Luke 2:51 ESV 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.

For Jesus to pursue God and be about the things of God, did not mean that he was trapped as a hermit in the temple courts his entire life. There was a time for that. Yes, he would be busy with his books reading and learning, with his rabbis studying and reflecting. But Jesus went home from there. He was a boy who was submissive to his parents. It is very likely that shortly after this moment, his adopted father Joseph passed away. The reason most scholars think this is because Joseph is never again mentioned in the Scriptures. Therefore, as the oldest brother Jesus would have had responsibilities in his home to care for and provide for his younger siblings. We know that he took up the craft of his Dad and became a carpenter. Yet, in all of this, the things of God, the pursuit of God, being about the Father’s business, was the central driving thrust and thread of his life.

C What Does It Mean to Make God Our Chief End?

We, like Christ, have been called to also to make the pursuit of God and the desire for God to be the central driving thrust and thread of our life. Yes, our calling is different than Jesus. He was the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God. And yet, what Jesus meant by this little phrase, must ring true for every honest Christian. Remember, the Christian is the one who has been set apart for God for all eternity. We are not Jesus the Messiah, but we were bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And we believe that we are not our own, but we are God’s. So let us consider the life of Jesus for a moment, and how he maintained throughout his life this hunger for God.

1 He Made God the Chief Vision for the Course of Our Life: First, Christ God the vision for the course of our life. When a mariner travels across the ocean, he carries with him a set of tools and maps and compasses to make sure that he is staying on track for his final destination. He has a plan of where he intends to go. Storms may come and blow him off course, but he always gets his tools out and resets his course in the right direction. A person whose chief ambition is the pursuit of God has the pursuit of God as their final destination. That frames everything about them. It is the background thoughts of their day, of their conversations, of how the manage their calendar. Remember Jesus taught us that,

Matthew 6:24 ESV “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Many Christians have multiple masters. The pursuit of wealth. The pursuit of popularity. The pursuit of comfort. All of these threaten to limit our experience of what Jesus had. I have found for me over the years that this has grown. Jesus had this in full at twelve years old, but we in our weakness grow toward what Christ had. At first, the desire for this to be my life’s pursuit was there, but I couldn’t yet see what it meant to truly him the end of my compass. But over time I have matured in faith, and increasingly the vision of God colors more and more of my life.

2 His Religion Was Not Just in the Externals; it was primarily in the heart: See the language he uses here. “Did you not know I would be about my father’s business.” This is insightful because his adopted Dad, Joseph was standing right in front of him. Mary had just said, “Your father and I were looking for you…” We know that Jesus had an incredible affection for his parents, as one of his final acts was to take care of his mother. And yet his greatest affection was for His Heavenly Father. In Luke we will see that Jesus often retreated to be alone with God the Father. In Luke 11 Jesus will teach us the Lord’s Prayer which begins, “Our father.” Christ’s singleminded vision for honoring was not just up here in his head, it consumed his heart.

A Christian’s main work lies with his heart. He that makes religion his business, gives God the vitals: he worships him “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24.)… Aaron must offer the fat upon the altar: “He shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat that covereth the inwards. All the fat is the Lord’s.” (Lev. 3:3, 16.) If Aaron had offered the skin instead of the fat, it would not have been accepted. External devotion alone is offering the skin; and they that give God only the skin of duty, shall carry away only the shell of comfort.

Thomas Watson, Sermon on Luke 2:49, ‘How Must We Make Religion Our Business?’

Does God consume your heart, your affections. Is He your greatest love from which all other loves flow.

3 Jesus delighted in following God’s Law: Third, Jesus delighted in following the law. In this passage, Jesus is only 12 years old, and what we discover is a young boy who is fully following the fifth commandment to honor you mother and father. Now you recall, that commandment extends to all authoritative figures. And so we see young twelve year old Jesus being unbelievably respectful to his Elders, sitting at their feet asking questions. At the end of the story, the text goes out of its way to say that Jesus was submissive to his parents. Followers of Christ who want to be about their Father’s business, delight in the law of God. Not out of some effort to be approved by God. No! Our approval is secure in what Christ has done on the cross. But from that approval, we delight in keeping God’s law, all of it.

Psalm 119:105 ESV Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Is there anywhere, where your actions are revealing you don’t quite love God’s law the way you ought? Is there anywhere where you are watering down his law?

4 Christ’s Conscience Was Determined by God Alone?: Fourth, Christ’s conscience was determined by God alone. This is an interesting passage because while he is respectful and submissive and law honoring with his superiors, he is not bound by their decisions. Mary comes in frantically looking for her son after three days. We know that Jesus has done nothing morally wrong here. But he doesn’t just sway to his mother’s opinion. His opinion is swayed solely by His Heavenly Father. We see the same thing with the rabbis. At the end of verse 47 we see that the rabbis were amazed at his “answers.” The word there means “judgments.” Just as is not only asking good questions, but he is providing judgments, not swayed by anyone’s opinion other than the Lord’s.

The Apostle wrote

Galatians 1:10 ESV For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

A conscience that is overly concerned with making decisions in their life that ultimately please men, that make men think well of them, but is not overly concerned with whether or not God is pleased with them, has something wrong. If you want to be about your Father’s business, it will take backbone and courage, to stand alone. Christians see the world very differently. We see ideas very differently. Our conscience must be seared by God alone.


There are further ways we could discuss how to evaluate if you are whole heartedly about your father’s business. But I want to leave you with encouragement today. None of us will ever do this perfectly. On all four of what I just shared above, where Christ got it perfect, we will all fail in degree or another.

Illustration—Distracted Praying: This morning I was on my knees praying for today, asking God to pour his blessing out on us. And I found myself suddenly lost in distracted thought about a youtube video I had seen that week. Nothing to do with God, nothing to do with prayer. How weak we are. How weak I am!

In Our Weakness Turn to Christ: This is actually joy of the Gospel. None of us live up to the standard of Christ. We all fall short in many ways, myself included. In fact, in our shortcomings, we have an opportunity to see Christ magnified. Every time you see a weakness in yourself, a lack of the pursuit of god and godliness in your life, look to Christ. He was fully man. He had to learn and grow and sweat and fatigue just like you. But Christ succeeded, where we failed. Christ phsyically fatigued, but he never morally fatigued. He perfectly obeyed the law. And yet he suffered under the weight of the cross, in our place, for our weaknesses, for us.

Adopted: If our faith is in Jesus, then God the Father has adopted us, in a similar way to how Joseph adopted Jesus. God will not let us go. We are secure, despite our weaknesses. Our hope is not bound by whether or not we are strong enough to will ourselves into obedience. No! Our hope is built on what Christ accomplished.

Transition to Prayer & Worship


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