It’s a Given

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

The questions of Jesus were directed to his parents who, after three days of searching Jerusalem, found their precocious twelve year old in the Temple conversing with the learned people.  Mary and Joseph were perplexed.  They were perplexed before they found him because they couldn’t find him.  Now that they had found him, they were perplexed by him.  What did he just say?

They did not grasp what was obvious to Jesus.  I do not fault them.  After countless Sunday School lessons on this text, I didn’t see what was so obvious to Jesus either.  This was not a lesson about Jesus being an accelerated learner and ready for the advance placement class.  Nor was it merely the startling claim of a twelve year old to have God as his Father. It was also a lesson on the inability of Mary and Joseph to comprehend a matter that was so fundamental to Jesus that it was a given.

Jesus’ questions were a mild rebuke.  Let me paraphrase.  “Why would you spend three days looking for me?  This should have been the first place you looked.  It is, after all, my Father’s house.”  To Jesus, it was a given.  Mary and Joseph had not got it yet.

What is a given for you?  What is so patently obvious about you that no one would question?  One day, when you have passed through ‘the old door in the garden wall’ and the weight of the earth is literally on your shoulders, when your family and friends have left the graveside and have wandered back to the fellowship hall, scoffing down potato salad and green beans, how will they will finish this sentence?  “You know, it was a given for old so and so that ….”  He would be at the game on Friday?  That he would be at work on time?  That he would play the radio too loud?

Will anyone say “it was a given that he would be found in the place where God is worshiped and his Son is honored?”

Need a Savior?  I know one.  John 3:16.

And what a Savior he is!


But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? (Job 12:7-9 ESV)

I have lost count of the number of people who have declared something like this.  “When I get to heaven, the first thing I am going to ask God is why he made gnats.”  I want to go on record as doubting that this will be the first question anyone asks.  I suspect that we may not be doing the questioning at all.

But one obvious reason not to ask that question is that God has already answered it.  You may read it in the eighth chapter of Exodus.  The sorcerers of Egypt were great imitators.  Moses’ staff became a serpent.  Their staffs became serpents.  God turned the Nile into blood.  They turned the Nile into blood.  God called up frogs.  They called up frogs.  No doubt they were proud of their work.  Too proud.

God called in the gnats.  According to Exodus 8:18, they tried but could not do it. Imitations exposed!  Only God can manage a gnat.  The next verse says, “Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”  There you have it.  God made gnats to humble proud men.  And they will too.  They will make you look the very fool, waving at people you don’t like, blowing air through compressed lips, hitting yourself in all manner of places, walking around with your finger in your ear, or worse, in your eye!

I know that the hand of God is on our worship because I see his fingers everywhere.  And people respond to his fingers, too!  I have seen even stoic Baptists lifting their hands in worship, ducking and weaving and bobbing about in a sacred dance orchestrated by the very fingers of God.

No one should be too proud who has been humbled by a tiny gnat.  So, if the fingers of God are in our ears, perhaps he is telling us to listen to him.  If his fingers are in our eyes, perhaps we should be looking for him.  If his tiny little fingers fly up our noses, perhaps we should remember that the breath of life comes from him.  And if, by merest chance, one sneaks into our mouth, then it might be time to remember that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  If we will not feed on his good word, the day may come when we have to eat gnats.

“Ask the beasts,” said Job.  They have something to teach us.

What a Savior!  John 3:16.