Let Your work be seen for Your servants and Your glory on their children.
Text: Luke 2:42-52
And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that 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 astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Jesus grew up as does any other child, but His heart was pure and His growth untainted by sin. “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” This first Word which is recorded for us from His mouth since He became Man, and the only Word we hear from what He spoke as a Child, is very significant. He was always about His heavenly Father’s business, always doing His will and obedient to Him.
But our children are baptized into Jesus, and by Him they shall also grow up and increase in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men. God’s good Spirit who is given to them in Baptism shall surely accomplish it in them. But we parents should be the Lord’s servants to encourage this gracious work. Four things we must note here above all.
- Pray diligently for your children. Speak with God about them early and late, from their conception and birth until your death. When children cry and when they smile, when they are healthy and when they are sick, when they are asleep and when they are awake, let your prayers of thanksgiving and faith for them ascend to the Father in heaven. Moisten them with your tearful prayers, and thus place them in the Savior’s arms. With your intercessions follow them to school, to their confirmation and Holy Communion, from home and into the dangerous world. Let your prayers surround them everywhere like the mountains! If they are poor, but many prayers for them are presented to God, then they are rich. Their inheritance can never be traded for all the gold of the wealthiest person in the world.
- Teach your children God’s Word early. “Baptize them,” Jesus said, “and teach them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20). Tell your children about Jesus, about His birth, childhood, obedience, love, suffering, death, and resurrection, about heaven’s glory and the joy of the blessed with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, about the faithful and about God’s pleasure in them, about Adam and Paradise, Cain and Abel, Joseph and Daniel. Teach them the Ten Commandments, the Articles of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers. Don’t leave this to the school. Let the home be the Lord’s Temple, and let this instruction in God’s Word be the parents’ sacred privilege. O what shall become of the unfortunate children who do not learn God’s Word in their home?
- Discipline your children with understanding and love. Evil will show itself in them soon enough. God’s Spirit will work against it, but their new life is like a tender plant, which needs nurturing. Your discipline will help them to deny themselves and to be obedient. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly,” says wise Solomon (Pro 13:24). For self-will, lying, defiance, and similar sins you will chastise your children, but never in wrath and bitterness, always calmly, lovingly, suffering with the children, zealous only against their sins. Do not scold, do not threaten, do not provoke them. Be firm and consistent, not soft and cowardly, not arbitrary and partial.
- Set a holy example for them. You yourself, live before God as His child. Let your children breathe in true fear of God in the home. Keep your faith and courage by God’s grace, in spite of all your weakness. Live in your baptismal covenant, and renounce the devil with all his ways and all his works. God, who loves both you and your children with everlasting love in Christ, shall truly strengthen you for this. How sad it is when children are encouraged for good and disciplined for evil, but see their parents and teachers themselves living in sin. Woe to those who cause one of these little ones to stumble (Mat 18:6)!
Practice these four things. Then if new life does not come forth with clear strength among your children at a young age, then it will surely happen later on. You and your house shall be saved. God Himself has said it.
Help us in this, heavenly Father, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Ye parents, hear and ye shall know
How Mary and Joseph gladly go
Unto God’s holy temple.
They teach their Child the way to trace
To God’s own House and dwelling place;
So learn from their example.
Your children dear, of tender age,
Whom God has giv’n as heritage,
To them the best gifts giving,
Take care to show them all your life
A holy life, as man and wife,
In Jesus’ footsteps living.
It’s not enough that they attain
The earthly goods that you may gain
Which all are transitory,
But let their youthful, tender heart
Now see you choose the better part:
God’s kingdom and His glory.
Kingo: O I forældre L 199:1-3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Kommt her zu mir (ELH 189); alternate hymn: O blest the house ELH 190:3-4