Study Guide 1
(WAITING FOR GOD’S PLAN)
The Childhood of Jesus teaches us, among many things, that our struggles and challenges aren’t the whole story. We struggle through life, seeing things that seem inconsistent with a loving God. We face death of loved ones, even our own, serious illness, employment problems, problems with family relationships, and financial difficulty. We see trouble and destruction every time we turn on the TV, or read the newspaper. We might be tempted to think, ‘If there is a God…why this?’
The truth is that bad things happen to good people, as well as good things to bad people. Jesus explained it this way, ‘it rains on the just and unjust, alike.’ Our lesson today through the tumultuous childhood of Jesus Christ will reveal that through the struggles and victories of everyday life God is weaving his master plan for his will and our good alike.
We’ll look at 3 stories from the childhood of Jesus that teach us in God’s kingdom there’s always more than meets the eye. That reminds me of the old story about the preacher who was visiting a woman in her room at the nursing home, as the conversation was continuing, he noticed a little bowl of peanuts on her nightstand, and asked if he could have one and she said, “Of course, dearie, have as many as you want.” He had one, and, another. In fact, by the time the conversation was done, so were the nuts. As he was leaving, he asked her forgiveness for eating all her peanuts. To which she replied, “that’s all right, dearie, I’ve already sucked all the chocolate off of them, anyway.”
The moral of the story….life is full of surprises. We’ll look at 3 stories from Jesus formative years, and they all just happen to start with a V…….
- Visit of the Magi,
- Vacating to Egypt
- Vanishing Child.
1. Visit of the Magi:
You all know the story from the Christmas carol, “We three kings from orient are, bearing gifts, we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star…”
(Jason’s soapbox): There are only 3 things wrong with the premise of this song:
- They weren’t kings. The Bible calls them Magi, followers of the Magian religion. Some translations call them wise men. These were not Jewish people. ‘Magian’ is the Greek word we get the English word ‘magician’ from. They were more than likely Eastern mystics, who ended up to be some of the first worshipers of Jesus.
- They didn’t arrive at Jesus’ birth. Based on our Scripture text, Jesus would be at least one year old, as much as 2, when they arrived at his “house” not the manger.
- There is no Scriptural evidence that there were three of them…just more than one. This leads us to an important side point to today’s study. Get your theology from the Bible, not a song, not another book, not a denomination, not a church, not another person, not even me! Read it yourself! Don’t take anyone else’s position as fact until you’ve seen what His Word says.
A. The Visit was God led:
Mt 2:2 “Where is the one who was born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the East.” Vs 9-10 “When they saw the star they were overjoyed…the star…went ahead of them…stopped over the house…”
I saw a movie, recently, that included this story. It showed the star as a comet, which seems to be the popular opinion. Isn’t interesting how we try to take the supernatural and make it natural? It’s true, because of the rotation of the Earth, a comet would lead from East to West, but that’s the only thing about a comet that matches the Biblical account.
- The Biblical context shows the star was present more than one year (vs 7, 16), comets are visible only for several days as they pass by.
- The Bible says the star led them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (vs 9). If it was a comet, it would have to travel West for a year and make a sharp left turn over Jerusalem to go South to Bethlehem.
- The Bible says it stopped over the house Jesus lived in, comets don’t stop unless they hit something. The Magi knew the star indicated the birth of the King of the Jews.
Let’s be straight…God led the Magi with a miraculous image in the sky which we don’t understand. He led them to Jesus. In a way this might seem to be a wasted trip a group of distant travelers to come at a great distance to deliver a few gifts that seem rather random to us.
vs 11 “…they…worshiped Him…presented Him with gifts.”
Can you imagine being the parents of a child that strangers walked for over a year from a strange country to worship? ‘Oh, look Joe, they’re giving presents to our little boy…is that gold?’ That would be cool, huh? Having people bow down to your kid. There’s always more than meets the eye!
SOMETIMES GREAT BLESSINGS ARE FOLLOWED BY GREAT TRIALS:
The visit brought the threat from Herod:
vs 3 “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”
To be honest, Herod was disturbed his whole life, very disturbed. His whole family was disturbed. They slaughtered each other and anyone else who appeared to threaten their power. They intermarried, bargained with the Romans, whatever they thought would hold power and satisfy their twisted desires.
Vs 13 “…Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” This is a serious problem!!! While Mary and Joseph were basking in the honor their child brought, the same event brought great personal danger.
Principle 1 Sometimes great blessings can create great danger.
2. Vacating to Egypt:
vs 14 “…he got up, took the child and His mother and left…”
It seems like they just left in the middle of the night. Can you imagine what that must have felt like? Packing quietly, sneaking out of town. It’s a long walk to Egypt. I’d guess when they stopped in a town for food or shelter, people would ask where they came from and who they were. Soldiers everywhere! And who said the Bible is boring? We don’t know how long they stayed in Egypt, it was probably a number of years.
Though much of the World spoke Greek as a second language, their primary language, accent, dress and customs would be very different from Egyptians. Keeping a job and doing business with the native Egyptians would be a constant struggle. This, I’m sure, was a serious problem for their family. Second only to the problem they would have had if they stayed in Bethlehem.
Ignoring Change can be Deadly
vs 16 “Herod…gave orders to kill all the boys…two years old and under…” If they had stayed, Jesus would be dead.
Ever complained to God, or been frustrated about something only to find out it saved you from something worse?
Several years ago our family prepare to take a trip. To be honest I don’t remember why or where, but certain events of that day are forever etched in my memory! We planned to leave early that morning after completing a few chores that were necessary, but as things sometimes do we were delayed
Principle 2 God Led Change however uncomfortable may be our salvation.
3. Vanishing Child:
Living on Purpose
Lk 2:44-46 “They traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for (Jesus)…After three days, they found Him…”
- How many minutes can your child be missing before you are concerned?
- How many hours, before you’re frightened?
- How long before you panic?
- How many days before you’re distraught?
Most of the whole town of Nazareth would go to Passover, including all of Jesus’ extended family. The distance was about 65 miles. With children and the aged, the walk surely took more than a few days. As children do today, they probably grouped in their own general age and stayed near the most entertaining relative. Under these circumstances, it’s not a large stretch to have Joseph and Mary not miss Jesus for a whole day.. Still, can you imagine how fearful they must have been once they discovered He wasn’t with the group?
Jerusalem at Passover was kinda’ like times square during new years. While downtown is often busy and crowded, now it has an extra 250,000 people. Searching for Jesus must have seemed pointless. Add to this the added pressure of thinking you left God’s Son to be carted off by slavers or ravaged by wild beasts. This is horrible, right? Can you imagine a worse fate for a parent? But God was working behind the scenes here, too.
Bonus Round… here you get two principles in one episode:
We realize that God allowed this scene to unfold for really two purposes:
1) To show Mary, Jesus is God.
Vs 49 “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Mary was distraught, finding Jesus sitting with the teachers, unharmed, must have triggered the normal parental response after over 3 days of searching, punctuated by vivid imaginations of all that could have been. The Bible was very kind to her, but all you parents…and all you teenagers know exactly what went down when she found Him. Yes, He was the Son of God, but she had nursed Him, changed His diapers, watched him grow. He might seem like a big shot to all these people, but He was still her little boy. Seeing Him with all these Teachers of the Law marveling over His understanding is probably just what Mary and Joseph needed to understand Jesus had a deeper mission than being a loving Son. His words seem to be a not-so-subtle suggestion concerning where the authority was. It says she treasured these things in her heart.
2) To show us Jesus was human.
Vs 51-52 “Then He…was obedient to them…And Jesus grew in wisdom…and in favor with God…”
We know He’s God! We have trouble seeing His humanity. The Bible says he is fully human and fully God. Two things in this passage help us to contact his humanity, (and humility):
- He “was obedient to them”. Can you imagine the creator of the universe being pulled out of a Bible study by parents that wanted to go home.. And yet that is exactly what happened. Jesus respected his earthly guardians while he was under their leadership and obeyed immediately.
- Vs 52 says He “grew” in wisdom and God’s favor, showing that he like us grew in awareness of his own person and his relationship with his heavenly father.
We have three stories from Jesus’ childhood that show a Spiritual pattern. God working behind the scenes to bring about His plan in people’s lives.
- When things looked great, they weren’t;
- when they looked hopeless, there was hope.
God was weaving His plan in their lives, just as He does today, in ours. Things aren’t as hopeless as we think. We never know what good things lie beneath what we think looks bad, even hopeless.