Text: Ephesians 1:8 (3-14)
Date: Christmas II + 1/4/14
Solomon of old asked God not for a long life or riches or the life of his enemies but for “an understanding mind” and God gave him “a wise and discerning mind.” In the Holy Gospel today St. Luke tells us that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,” and that in his discussions with the doctors or teachers in the temple that “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Spiritual wisdom and understanding come from God alone. As the psalm says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding” (Ps 111:10). From that time “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Well, we might say, that’s great; great for Solomon and great for our teenage Savior. But that’s not yet the goal. What does that have to do with us? St. Paul breaks in and speaks between the Old Testament and Gospel readings saying that it is because of God’s blessing that God has chosen you to be His own, has done and still does everything possible to make you a bone fide member of His heavenly family, and because of God’s salvation, forgiveness and grace to you He gives you wisdom and insight just as with Solomon and Jesus!
St. Paul blesses, thanks and praises God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.” He did this quite on His own solely according to His great love without any merit, worthiness or even asking of our own. The Bible says “he chose us in [Christ] even before the foundation of the world,” chose us to be saved, to be redeemed, to be a member of His eternal kingdom.
He chose us also, it says, to “be holy and blameless before Him, in love.” So how is that going for you, being holy and blameless? It is solely by the spiritual wisdom and insight of your faith that you can see, believe and know that. You are holy in God’s sight. Not yet sinless, to be sure, but surely sinless in God’s sight who constantly beholds Christ and your faith in Christ who counts you a holy one, one set apart, one forgiven and redeemed by Him in His crucifixion. You are holy and “blameless” as Jesus took all the blame for your sin, your waywardness, your weakness, your faithlessness, your “you name it”…and what else shall we add that, in Christ, only the devil tries to remind you of and convict you of sin and guilt. Don’t believe it. Don’t deny it, but don’t believe it. Believe what God has done for you and in you.
By faith and the conviction of baptismal faith we have been given the spiritual wisdom and insight to believe that “In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” Now our text says, “He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will.” But, it is not to say it is because of God’s wisdom or insight that He has lavished upon us His salvation (as it certainly is, of course), but that because of His grace He gives us “wisdom and insight,” that is, spiritual wisdom and insight to believe, to understand, to know and to confess.
What is it, after all, that makes you believe that your sins, first of all, are a serious affront to God? The wisdom of the world around you is to try to deny that guilt before God. You, on the other hand, have been given the wisdom and insight to know and believe, first, that it is “the fear of the Lord [that] is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10), and then, that
“if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). It is alone by spiritual wisdom and insight that makes you believe that God will not punish you for your sins. It is solely and alone by the wisdom and insight of faith: faith in the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as His way of uniting of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.
Of course God is wisdom itself and insight itself. But here St. Paul says it is not merely because of God’s wisdom and insight that he gave you saving faith, it is, rather, that God has given you the spiritual insight and wisdom of faith that can understand and believe God’s Word.
In today’s Gospel we read, “all who heard [the then twelve year old Jesus] were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” I wonder what they talked about, what sort of questions they asked Him? Jesus knew He was there to be about the Father’s work, business and plan. And what was that work, that plan? As Jesus’ began His earthly ministry in Jerusalem and in the temple, so will His ministry reach its climax, goal and purpose in Jerusalem, but outside the old temple on a hill called Golgotha. When He asked His mother, frantic after searching for Him for three days, “Did you not know that it is necessary that I am among the things of my Father?” one commentator wrote, “What Mary and Joseph did not understand was this: that in those first fateful words, ‘I must be in my Father’s home’, Jesus was darkly alluding to his future passion and Resurrection in the Holy City.” Was He already then aware, cognitive of His whole work and destiny? But so with you. If all your talk, all your study, all your prayer, all your worship is constantly aware of our Lord’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection you will have the wisdom and understanding to put everything else in life in its proper perspective.
What tragedy, therefore, or turn of events, what frustration, what fear or loss after all can diminish your faith or separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus? For the wisdom and scriptural understanding you are given confesses in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Gibberish and foolishness to the world. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor 1:27-31).
So let the light of Christ enlighten your mind, your heart and your spirit to know that God through the scriptures is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15).
 J. McHugh, The Mother of Jesus, 124, cited in Gibbs, Luke 1:1—9:50, 132.