Almighty and everlasting God, direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son, we might be made to abound in good works. Grant this, we pray, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy, 1894)
God of Majesty, may your Spirit provoke us to follow your Son in all obedience and humility, growing in spiritual wisdom and maturity so that through us, all creation will come to know the praise of your glory; through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Thoughts on the Readings
The Common Thread
Devotion to God’s Word is difficult to maintain. Human nature gets in the way of sustained dedication. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). Our piety ebbs and flows, so we must depend upon a higher power than our own. Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing; it is not our piety that has been the blessing. So we must sit at the feet of the one who himself sat at the feet of others. We grow in wisdom and stature by listening to him (Luke 9:35).
First Reading - 1 Kings 3:4–15
Solomon not only sacrificed a lot at Gibeon, he traveled seven miles further than he might have to make those sacrifices. He could have sacrificed in Jerusalem where the ark was housed, but also did so in Gibeon where the bronze altar fashioned by Bezalel remained (2 Chr 1:5–5). This was where Solomon sought to make his “thousand burnt offerings.”
The Lord appeared there to Solomon, already a wise man, in a dream. And there the Lord granted him greater wisdom, “a wise and discerning mind.” A future king, the King of kings was already wise (Luke 2:40), yet “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52). Like Solomon, who returned from Gibeon to Jerusalem make offerings to the Lord (1 Kings 3:15), Jesus returned to that city to make the ultimate sacrifice to God.
Psalm - Psalm 119:97–104
Wisdom comes from the study of God’s law. Greater wisdom comes through the word of God than that conveyed by one’s teachers. Just as Jesus was able to amaze the temple teachers in the Gospel Reading, through our own daily meditation on the commandments, we grow wise to the amazement of others, even amazing ourselves from time to time. “Therefore, I beg such lazy paunches or presumptuous saints to be persuaded and believe for God’s sake that they are verily, verily! not so learned or such great doctors as they imagine; and never to presume that they have finished learning [the parts of the Catechism], or know it well enough in all points, even though they think that they know it ever so well. For though they should know and understand it perfectly (which, however, is impossible in this life), yet there are manifold benefits and fruits still to be obtained, if it be daily read and practiced in thought and speech; namely, that the Holy Ghost is present in such reading and repetition and meditation, and bestows ever new and more light and devoutness...” (Luther, Introduction to The Large Catechism)
Second Reading - Ephesians 1:3–14
God is determined to make his people fit for his kingdom. This is no easy task, as it means creating a people who are “holy and blameless before him.” Yet, God did not give up until he accomplished that labor. The manner in which he fulfilled his predestined plan is unique in the history of religion. He redeemed us through his own blood. He paid the price for the sin of his beloved people by dying on the cross, and so, by “the riches of his grace” instead of through the righteous efforts of humanity, forgives our sin and makes us holy. Through his death, we become the very children of God.
When one hears “the word of truth,” the gospel of salvation, and believes in Christ, he becomes our salvation because he has become our righteousness. That is the wisdom of God and his fulfilled promise, sealed with the indwelling of his Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance with the saints (Acts 20:18).
Gospel - Luke 2:40–52
This is the only account we have been given of Jesus’ later boyhood. In it, we have enough to understand God’s purposes, though we may want more stories. God’s favor was upon Jesus; as such, he was filled with wisdom. This wisdom was evident to the teachers in the temple who were “amazed” by the answers Jesus gave to their questions. As they asked questions meant to help students learn, Jesus was already able to speak on the level of the learned. Beyond this one story of his later childhood, we are only given this: his wisdom continued to increase all the more.
Read the entire Sola Devotion, which includes an additional Scripture graphic for your use.
Christians believe that the Lord our God is one God yet three persons, or Trinity. We have named the first two persons of the Trinity who is God. The first is the Father. The second is Jesus Christ his only Son. The third is the Spirit of God whom we call the Holy Spirit, or sometimes speaking archaically, the Holy Ghost.
The Spirit hovered over the chaotic deep, bringing creation in the beginning. He overshadowed Mary, causing the virgin to be with the child Jesus (re: January 8, 2015). The Spirit reminds us of the things Jesus taught, as well as other parts of Scripture. He teaches us. He intercedes for us in prayer when words fail to come. He moves in hearts of Christians so that unity in a congregation that might otherwise dissolve is fulfilled for God's glory. He brings hope, encouragement, peace, and joy. He also helps us in times of trial and weakness. When we imagine that God cannot possibly love poor sinners like us, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God's love and sacrifice—that eternal life and peace do not depend upon our worth or our works. In short, this Holy Spirit of God whom we confess in the Apostles' Creed brings our attention back to Jesus at every turn. He is the guarantee of everything Jesus promised.