I had to be in My Father’s house.
Luke 2:36-52 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
There are many people today who say if Jesus were here today He would not associate with the church, but would rather be with the outcasts and sinners. In today’s text it says: …When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Even as a young boy, Jesus was drawn to the Temple, the House of God, His Father. The Temple then was no more perfect than the Temple Jesus visited as a man and drove out those who were selling, saying: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” (Matthew 21:13) The Temple then was no more perfect than the church today, yet Jesus was drawn to it and stayed. He lingered there and returned regularly during His ministry because He felt the need to be in His Father’s house. He was drawn to His Father’s word.
Would Jesus come to the church today, would He come to our church? There is of course no perfect church, in part because every church is made up of imperfect people. But if we would want Jesus to be present today, we should make certain that ours is a church that is a “House of Prayer.” We should be certain that it is a place that values, reads and teaches God’s word. We should be certain of our purpose for gathering. It is not that we fellowship with people, but rather that we gather to worship the Father and the Son. Jesus says: “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
There are many models for church growth. Many books have been written and seminars given to help churches become a place that people would want to be. Here’s the thing that occurs to me: When Jesus was here, everywhere He went people followed and gathered in large numbers. Without a program, without promotion, people came to Jesus by the thousands. If we would be a church that draws people, may we begin by being a church that would draw Jesus. May we gather in His name. May we worship Him, not through programs and productions, but as Jesus says in John 4:24: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” In Matthew 18, the context for Jesus saying where two or three gather in His name is seen in verses 18-20: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” In Matthew 16, Jesus also speaks of binding and loosing. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says: “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” The rock, the foundation that Jesus will build His church upon is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ. Upon that revelation Jesus will build His church and give it the keys to the kingdom of heaven. If we would be a church that Jesus would be drawn to today, we should be a church that is built upon the truth that He is the Christ; that He was born to be Messiah; that He died to be our Savior; that He was resurrected from death to give us life and that He ascended to heaven to be reunited with the Father. If we would be a church that Jesus is drawn to today, may we gather in His name, may we worship in Spirit and Truth, may we pray and may we read and teach His word. If we would be a church that Jesus is drawn to, we would be a church that people are drawn to. In John 12:32 Jesus says: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may our churches today truly be Your House, a house of prayer, a place of worship in Spirit and in truth. May our churches be places where Your word is revered, read and taught. May we gather in the name of Christ that we would have the assurance of Your presence. If we would build our churches, may we build them as You do; on the revelation that You are the Christ. May we know that if we make a place for You, the world will come. Whether two or three or two or three hundred thousand, may we abide in You and You in us. Amen.