The Confounding Jesus
Text: Luke 2:41-52 | Listen to Message
Is Jesus Confusing To You?
If something confounds you, it amazes and astonishes you, but it also puzzles and perplexes you. It leaves you awestruck, bewildered and confused, all at the same time.
This is the effect Jesus has on people.
Picture this scene. Jesus is 12 years old and he’s gone up to Jerusalem with his family for the Passover. After a week, his parents return home to Nazareth with a caravan of family and friends. Unbeknownst to them, Jesus hangs back in Jerusalem. When his absence is discovered, his parents race back to find him interacting with the religious teachers in the Temple. They and everyone else are blown away by Jesus’ questions and answers. How does this preteen from nothing-town Nazareth, with no formal religious education, have this kind of perception into the things of God?
Finally, Mary can’t take it any longer and she just has to scold Jesus for scaring Joseph and her the way he did. But Jesus’ answer is even more confounding! “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
See, even as a child, Jesus understood that he was the Son of God – that he had a very special relationship with the Father. And he understood that his life’s mission was to be laser-focused on knowing and doing the Father’s will. Nothing – not even love for his own family – could get in the way of his primary allegiance to the Father.
Luke is signposting for us what we can expect with this Jesus in the rest of his gospel: Jesus will continue to confound everyone, including his family and friends!
Does Jesus confound you? Are there things about him – maybe things he said or did – that confuse you theologically? Are there things he does or doesn’t do that confuse you personally?
How do you react when Jesus confuses you? Do you get frustrated? Angry? Impatient? Do you try to eliminate the dissonance by turning Jesus into a caricature that makes better sense to you? Do you “amputate” part of the real, historic Jesus in an effort to get a version of Jesus who’s less confounding? Or do you let Christ be God – no matter how mysterious and paradoxical he seems to be?
Elisabeth Elliot beautiful summarizes a Gospel-driven response to the myriad ways Jesus confounds and confuses us:
God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to. (Through Gates of Splendor)