27th January 2019

Jesus Lost Among Us

“And so it was that after three days [his parents] found Him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”
Luke 2:46 (NKJV)

Max Liebermann painted The Twelve-Year Old Jesus In the Temple. It was first displayed in Munich in 1879, and was universally panned. Discussion became so heated that it made it to the floor of the German parliament! Any painting of this story usually shows Jesus as an other-worldly, angelic-type figure who was overwhelming his audience with truth. This painting, of a very normal-looking pre-“t’weenie” talking shop with some curious rabbis, was far too normal, too every day, and therefore went against the sensibilities of critics at the time. But that is the true power of this story.

Advent starts with angels ripping open the sky and ends with a teenager on a family trip wandering off. The utter ordinariness is where this gritty story meets us in our every-day lives. Which is indeed where Jesus meets us most often—in what Richard Foster called the “dishevelled friction” of day-to-day stresses and small joys. This story, within its narrative context, is very much like our journey of faith. It starts with fireworks—a radical turning from sin and addiction, a powerful experience—but then turns to our relationships with our spouse or our church family, to the way we do our jobs or conduct business. Jesus may even seem “lost” to us at times. God takes us through stages as our faith matures, the old ways of knowing him and meeting him make room for new.

Added to this story is the fact that Max Liebermann was Jewish. As history trudged on, Liebermann was eventually persecuted for his faith and heritage. Soon after his death in 1935, his wife was forced to sell the family estate to the Nazi regime. Less than a hundred yards from there was the villa where the infamous Wannsee Conference was held in 1942, where the so-called ‘final solution’ to the Jewish question was discussed. Thus, within plain sight of where this Jewish artist had lived, the concentration camps were first planned.

Woven into the rough fabric of our history and all of human history, Jesus emerged into a world where he would be mistreated, misunderstood. The story of Jesus doesn’t end with the warmth and glow of Christmas, but only just begins and takes him all the way to the cross and beyond. He truly got ‘lost’ among us

Merciful Father, our human lives are often so separated from any spiritual content. Fortunately, we don’t have to meet you because you have set yourself to meet us. And so you do. We write the history of human experience, but you continue to augment and support our individual journeys of faith. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Greg Williams

About the Author:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and resides in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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