“On finding the Jesus you thought you’d lost”

December 12, 2014

wright on bible reading

This Sunday, I’m preaching on Luke 2:41-51, the story of Mary and Joseph losing the 12-year-old Jesus for three days, only to find him in the temple in Jerusalem. N.T. Wright says that this story bookends nicely with another story in Luke’s gospel.

The way Luke has told the story may strike a careful reader of his gospel as part of a large-scale framework around the main story, which is just about to begin. One of the best loved moments in his gospel is the story of the road to Emmaus over the three days that have elapsed since Jesus’ death. Jesus meets them, and explains how ‘it was necessary that these things had to happen’. Here is another couple, coming back to Jerusalem, finding after three days the Jesus they thought they had lost, and having him explain that ‘it was necessary’ (the word is the same in Greek) ‘that I had to be busy at my father’s work’. You might call the pair of stories something like, ‘On Finding the Jesus You Thought You’d Lost’. And if that is the message of these two passages, maybe Luke is wanting to tell us something about his gospel as a whole: maybe he is writing, at one level at least, for people who may have some idea of Jesus but find he is more elusive than they had imagined.[†]

The parallelism is striking, isn’t it? What do you make of it? What might Luke be trying to tell us? This is an insight that I might have to work in my sermon somewhere!

N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2004), 29.

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