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January 7, 2024

You’ve Been Saved by a Twelve-Year-Old Hero

Passage: Isaiah 49:1-8

Here's a moment of cheer for you to ponder:  a school bus driver suffered a heart attack while driving a bus full of children. But thanks to a heroic 12-year-old, the bus was steered away from doom.

What an inspiring story! This adolescent boy saved several lives! If only the world was more like this! And yet, have you ever wondered why is that we have to say that? Have you ever wondered why you’re so surprised when someone shows an act of kindness, especially when an adolescent boy shows kindness? We may take it for granted, but we have been taught by Holy Scripture that this world is sinful, and it will yield its ugly fruits every which way. And so, how many twelve-year-old boys have you known in your life that would save a bus load of children let alone have the maturity to just show common courtesy in their day to day interactions? There’s a reason we don’t expect many twelve-year-olds to be heroes. Though they probably wished it were true, no twelve-year-old is Harry Potter where they, with steel grade integrity, can wave a wand and save the day.


Many of you have raised twelve-year-olds before, and all of you have been twelve before. At that time, were you or your kids heroes? No, and in fact we still aren’t heroes. We are sinners who need saving…And thank God that we have been saved! And to add more to that exciting news, we have been saved by a twelve year old boy! In every place where you’ve failed to fulfill your Heavenly Father’s business, He has fulfilled it for you. This child would then, as He grew in stature and wisdom, would then offer His life on the cross in order to take in His hands the wheel to prevent your bus crash of sin, death, and hell.


And so, yes, as our theme presents, you’ve been saved by a twelve year old hero. And knowing the antics of the average twelve year old boy, that seems farfetched? So, in order to grow in the knowledge of God’s grace and glory, let’s dispel any disbelief and see that this twelve year old boy was literally born to save us as we study the words of Isaiah 49.


(we pray…)


As the rabbis of the temple listened to the twelve year old ask questions and offer thoughts, although amazed at the scholarly knowledge coming from the adolescent, they still had no idea that they were talking to, as Isaiah said of Him, the Servant of the Lord. Jesus, this Servant, was literally born for this purpose—to preach the saving truth to all nations. Isaiah portrays Jesus, the Servant, speaking of Himself in this way: “He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, And made Me a polished shaft; In His quiver He has hidden Me." In this sentence of epic, poetic prophecy, the Servant, the twelve-year-old hero, is described. The Lord has made a sharp sword of His Servant’s mouth and has made Him to be a smooth polished arrow. Sword and arrow are weapons for killing in battle, to put and enemy to death. But physical killing is, of course, not meant here. The words are figures of speech. The sharp sword and the polished, perfect arrow are the Servant’s mouth. This service given to us is first of all a service of the mouth; Jesus is the Lord’s messenger, prophet, preacher, apostle. He is to proclaim the Lord’s Word to the nations. Just as the Lord at one time put His Word into the mouth of Israel, that is, revealed it to him and commanded him to proclaim it, so He has now placed it in the mouth of His special Servant, who is the right and proper Israel, in order that He proclaim it to the nations. Law and Gospel both in their proper place. From His mother’s womb, this child had His name called to remembrance as the promised hero—the twelve year old who would save the world.


Now, I’m sure you are convinced that this twelve year old boy is your hero, but understand that there are many in this world that are not. The Lord in Isaiah also says of this Servant hero, Jesus, that many amongst mankind would despise Him, and that many nations will abhor Him. At any age in Jesus’ life, He would be hated. As an adult, man’s hatred was the instrument that drove Jesus to His necessary ill treatment and death. Even before that, people threatened to kill Him, ask Him to leave, and have even accused Him to be of the devil. His own townsmen in Nazareth even tried to throw Him off a cliff. And to top it all off, when He was a year or two old, king Herod tried to kill him through calculated genocide.


And so, as predicted, this twelve year old hero has harsh critics…but they will all be proven wrong. The Lord says that kings shall see Him and rise, princes shall worship. Every knee will bow to Him one day, the question though is will they bow to their hero, or will they bow to their executioner? We thank God that, by His grace given in this hero, that it will be the former, but we must be careful not to be led astray by those who scoff at the twelve year old hero. We know to look for the obvious problems: stay away from those who say that Jesus isn’t God, that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, that He was just a teacher. We know to be leery of gross, disrespectful false doctrines concerning our hero—like those that say Jesus only took away part of your sins; or that you must choose Jesus and not the other way around; or that Jesus can be found outside of Word and Sacrament. We’ve learned a lot of things along the way, so what is there still to be leery of? What I’m getting at is this: have you experienced problems in worry and despair that you felt your hero couldn’t get you through—Impatience with medical procedures, impatience with loved ones?  Have you felt guilt in your life that you think that Jesus couldn’t even fix—that sin you can’t forget even though your God has? Or let’s ask questions of the opposite disposition: Have you taken advantage of your twelve year old hero’s gift to you—treating Him as a license to go on sinning however you see fit? Have you seen Jesus as a last resort rather than your first and greatest blessing? Don’t be led astray!


If you are guilty of the aforementioned problems, let us then go back to your hero and see how He is presented to us in Isaiah 49. The Lord calls your attention to your twelve year old hero by saying, “Listen, o coastlands, Listen, you people from afar!” Now that He has our attention, here is Jesus’ purpose, “And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, And My God shall be My strength), 6 Indeed He says,`It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Jesus, the twelve year old hero, came to save you and all people. He came to save you from everything you’ve ever done. Have you been impatient with your lot in life, not showing gratitude towards your Lord and rather showing a lack of trust in Him? Your twelve year old hero, in the temple and beyond, leaned wholly on the Lord and trusted Him fully all the years of His life, and He did that for you. Is there a sin that you keep holding on to, a sin that you so repeatedly commit that you can almost call it an addiction? Your twelve year old hero throughout His whole life, even during the susceptible years of naïve adolescence, did not once yield to the tempting, addictive qualities of sin, and He did it for you. He threw Satan back to save you. The child Hero, born into this world to save you; this child, sent to be a sword and arrow with His Word to preach the saving truth to your heart; this child, sent to restore the earth and be a covenant—a promise of God’s grace—to the people; this child lived a perfect life for you. He is your hero.


And so, with a perfect life lived in your place, we see that the commands that were required of us since we were infants, the commands that we failed to live up to at every age of our lives, were kept for us by this twelve year old hero. Now how about the punishment that our sins deserve? Those can’t go unpunished. Once again, your twelve year old hero took care of that too. He was born for this after all. Let’s fast forward to the day where our twelve year old hero would drive the bus to safety so that we wouldn’t crash, the day where Jesus would take on the wrath of God for us. Isaiah prophesied it vividly in the fourth verse of our text. “Then I said,`I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the LORD, And my work with my God.'" Our hero, having taken on human flesh to live as the perfect human representative for us, also took on human flesh to die for us. As He grew closer to His most heroic moment, He grew fainter, the task grew more challenging, He was tempted beyond compare. And yet, instead of backing out like a scared, inexperienced twelve year old boy would have done, He did not call down a legion of angels to help Him escape His demise. He did not rally His troops to storm Pilate’s porch to rescue Him. He did not come down from the cross as He was baited to do by the scoffers of men who witnessed Him die. As He toiled in what seemed to be vanity, as His strength left His body in exchange for what seemed to be nothing, as He sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane to ask His father if the cup of His wrath could pass from Him, He watched as the people who once shouted, “Hosanna” were now shouting, “crucify Him.” He was subject to complete rejection, a rejection that would make the  rejection of the Old Testament prophets look like child’s play. And although this seemed vain, how does the passage go on? “My cause is with the Lord and my recompense with my God.” The cause which Jesus represented was that of the Lord. The fruit and result of His labors were in the hand of the almighty Father. From cradle to grave, Mary’s womb to empty tomb, this twelve year old hero’s purpose was to save you from your sin, from your demise of death, and from an eternity of hell. As He hung on the cross to take the punishment you deserved, your hero said many things from His physical agony of thirst to the complete agony of the Father’s abandonment. He took this on so that we wouldn’t have to, and then our hero finally said, “It is finished.” Your sins were atoned for, your perfect life was lived in Him, and if you have any lingering guilt of sins you have hard time forgetting, know that your twelve year old hero has taken them away.


Yes, a twelve year old boy saved you. Jesus Christ lived about His father’s business to be the light to you. He was born for this. He was born to be your first and greatest blessing, not your last resort. He saved you, and did so in a far more heroic way than preventing a bus crash.