Luke 2:41-52 - EXEGESIS:
BACKGROUND: This is the only canonical story of Jesus' boyhood, and is found only in Luke's Gospel. This story from Luke emphasizes that Jesus was great even in boyhood (Cousar, 73).
The model for this story is the birth of Samuel to Hannah and Elkanah in 1 Samuel 2. Note the parallels:
LUKE 2:41. HIS PARENTS WENT EVERY YEAR TO JERUSALEM
41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
"went every year to Jerusalem." Women are allowed but not required to observe Passover. Jewish men who live within 20 miles of Jerusalem are required to attend Passover annually, while others aspire to do so at least once in their lifetime (Barclay, 24). The fact that both Joseph and Mary make this trip to Jerusalem every year signals their deep piety.
Luke will also tell us of Jesus' circumcision and dedication as well as Mary's purification, which also confirm their observance of the law (2:21-40). Later, Luke will show us Jesus' openness to tax collectors, sinners, and Gentiles, but first he shows us Jesus' deep roots in a highly observant Jewish tradition.
"at the feast of the Passover." Luke will later speak of this festival as "the feast of unleavened bread" (22:1, 7), although Passover and Unleavened Bread are, in a sense, related but separate observances-Passover coming first and Unleavened Bread following immediately afterward. Exodus 12:1-13, 43-49 prescribes the protocol for Passover, and Ex. 12:14-20; 13:3-10 prescribes the protocol for Unleavened Bread.
Passover requires killing a lamb and smearing its blood on the doorpost to commemorate the passing over of the death angel in Egypt. Unleavened Bread requires removing all leaven from the house and eating unleavened bread for seven days to commemorate the eating of unleavened bread in preparation for the Exodus.
The Greek word that is translated Passover in English Bibles is pascha, which is where we get the term, paschal lamb-the lamb sacrificed during the observance of Passover. Paul speaks of Christ as our paschal lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Jewish males are obligated to keep three festivals: The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Festival of Booths (Tabernacles) (Deuteronomy 16:16; Exodus 23:14-16; 34:23).
This is a significant journey from Nazareth-about 60 miles (100 km) as the crow flies and even further by road-requiring several days travel each way in addition to a week in Jerusalem. Such a trip involves a significant commitment of time and money-like a two-week vacation. This is an expensive pilgrimage for Joseph and Mary-an act of true devotion.
Luke will tell us about two additional visits by Jesus to Jerusalem. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the devil will take him to Jerusalem and tempt him to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple (4:9). At the end of his ministry, Jesus will visit Jerusalem again for the Passover (9:51 - 19:28). While there, he will cleanse the temple (19:45-48), be crucified (chapters 22-23), rise again from the dead (24:1-12), and appear to the disciples (24:36-49).
LUKE 2:42-45. WHEN THEY DIDN'T FIND HIM
42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.
"When he was twelve years old" (v. 42a). At age twelve, Jesus is not yet obligated to keep the festivals, but will become obligated on his thirteenth birthday (Fitzmyer, 440).
"they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast" (v. 42b). Given that his parents attend Passover every year in Jerusalem, Jesus has surely made this journey several times in the past. Imagine how a boy from a small Galilean town would feel on a visit to the big city of Jerusalem with its splendid temple.
"and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning" (v. 43a). Passover observance lasts for eight days (Leviticus 23:5-6). Pilgrims are not obligated to stay for the full eight days, but many do.
"the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem" (v. 43b). Traveling in caravan, men tend to gather with other men-and women with women. Children play together. It is not difficult to imagine how Joseph and Mary could assume that Jesus is present in the caravan.
"Joseph and his mother didn't know it" (v. 43c). We might ask how they could have overlooked Jesus' absence-or where Jesus would find food and lodging for three days. But Luke's greater purpose for this story is to let us know that Jesus, even as a boy, understood his unique identity and mission.
"but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day's journey" (v. 44a). They go a day's journey, perhaps twenty miles, before realizing that Jesus is not with them. It requires another day to retrace their steps.
"When they didn't find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him" (v. 45). Any parent can imagine the range of feelings experienced by Joseph and Mary. They must be both frightened and angry-alternating between "Please, dear God!" and "Wait till I get my hands on him!" The slow journey back to Jerusalem and the search in the city must be sheer torture.
LUKE 2:46-47. ALL WHO HEARD HIM WERE AMAZED
46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
"It happened after three days they found him in the temple" (v. 46a). We don't know whether their return trip constitutes part of the three days. It is possible that they searched Jerusalem for three days before finding Jesus. This is the only place where Luke uses the phrase, "three days." When referring to the resurrection, he will use the phrase, "the third day" (9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7, 21, 46).
"sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions" (v. 46b). Sitting is a teaching posture, but we must be careful not to over-interpret; students can also sit (Culpepper, 77). Jesus is not teaching teachers, but is listening and asking questions. Teachers rejoice in finding a student who asks good questions. Such questions indicate an active mind and invigorate a classroom. Questions and answers are a staple of Jewish teaching, and these teachers have heard many of both. They are amazed to hear such good questions and answers from a twelve-year-old boy.
"All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers" (v. 47). Luke establishes that Jesus, even as a child, demonstrates the promise that will blossom into real wisdom and authority. Later, people will praise Jesus for his teaching in the synagogues (4:15). They will be amazed at the gracious words that come from the mouth of this local boy (4:22). They will be astounded that he teaches with such authority (4:32). Jesus will open the disciples' minds to understand the scriptures (24:45).
LUKE 2:48-51. HIS PARENTS WERE ASTONISHED
48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." 49 And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
"When they saw him, they were astonished" (v. 48a). The people who heard Jesus were amazed at his wisdom, but Mary and Joseph are astonished at his lack of consideration for their feelings.
"and his mother said" (v. 48b). The Gospels present Joseph as a man of action, obeying God's instructions to the letter (Matthew 1:24; 2:13-15, 19-22), but they give him no speaking parts.
"Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you" (v. 48c). Mary's question only hints at the anguish that she must have felt when she discovered Jesus missing-and the shame that Jesus' mischief brought to the family.
"Why were you looking for me?" (v. 49a). These are the first words that Jesus speaks in this Gospel. At the open tomb, the angel will ask much the same question (using the same verb-zeteo)-"Why do you look (zeteite) for the living among the dead?" (24:5). "In both cases we have the sense that Jesus constitutes a deeper reality than anyone around him can comprehend" (Marty, 307).
"Didn't you know that I must (dei - "it is necessary") be in my Father's house?" (v. 49b). This verse reveals the central purpose of this story, which is to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God-a fact first told to Mary by the angel in 1:35-and soon to be affirmed by God at Jesus' baptism (3:22). Jesus will also speak of God as his father in 10:21-22; 22:29, 42; 23:34, 46; and 24:49.
"Didn't you know that I must" (dei-it is necessary-implies a Godly requirement). Jesus will use that word repeatedly to reflect the obligations imposed by his mission:
"I must be in my Father's house." Note the play on words reflected in "father" (v. 48) where Mary refers to Joseph as Jesus' father-and "my Father's house" (v. 49) where Jesus refers to God as his father. Barclay says, "See how very gently but very definitely Jesus takes the name father from Joseph and gives it to God". Some scholars treat Jesus' words in verse 49 as a rebuke of his parents, but Nolland noting that Jesus quickly becomes submissive (v. 51b), argues convincingly that Jesus is surprised rather than reproachful at Mary's question. (Nolland, 131. Stein echoes those sentiments, 122-123).
"They didn't understand the saying which he spoke to them" (v. 50). In the very beginning, Gabriel told Mary, "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom" (1:32-33). However, Mary does not have our advantage of hindsight. She cannot read the Gospels to see how Jesus' life will unfold, what it will mean, and how it will end. Jesus' ministry will be quite different from that which is expected of the Messiah, so Mary must be confused. Her awakening understanding of Jesus' ministry will come painfully.
"And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth" (v. 51a). "Went down" (katebe) is true in two senses. Jerusalem is on a mountain-geographic high ground-and it is also the site of the temple-spiritual high ground. This going down to Nazareth mirrors the going up to Jerusalem at the beginning of this story (vv. 41-42). These two phrases form brackets around the story, marking its beginning and ending.
"He was subject to them" (v. 51b). Just as he voluntarily "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7) to come down from heaven, so Jesus now voluntarily submits to his parents, fulfilling the commandment to honor his father and mother.
LUKE 2:52. AND JESUS INCREASED....
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (v. 52; see also 2:40). As this verse attests, Jesus did not spring fully-formed from the womb, but grew. Here we see Jesus, at age twelve, coming to grips with his identity and calling. He has been at home in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, but now, in the temple, he feels the pull of his special vocation. "I must," he says. "It is necessary." This will not be the last time that his vocation creates problems for his earthly family (8:19-21. See also 12:53; 14:26). He is not being disrespectful to his parents, but his greater obligation is to his Father in heaven. "I must be in my Father's house?"
This verse tells us that Jesus grew in four dimensions, each of which is essential to a well-balanced person: (1) Wisdom goes beyond knowledge of facts to an understanding, not just of what is, but of what counts. (2) "Stature" connotes both physical stature and spiritual maturity. (3) Divine favor involves relationship with God. (4) Human favor involves relationships with other people. The fact that Jesus increased in each of these dimensions shows that he had room to grow. The church will later emphasize that Jesus was fully God and fully human. Being fully human means that Jesus began life with the limitations of an infant. He grew to become a twelve-year-old boy, and later grew some more to become a man.
After this story, Joseph is mentioned again in this Gospel only in Jesus' genealogy (3:23), and Mary is mentioned again (not by name) only when she comes to see Jesus but cannot reach him because of the crowd (8:19). The emphasis from this point forward is not on Jesus earthly parents but on his heavenly Father.
Luke 2:41-52 Grace Commentary
INTRODUCTION: There is perhaps no passage in all the Bible more alluring to our curiosity than this one. From his circumcision at eight days old to the beginning of his public ministry in his thirties, we glimpse in specific terms only one day of Jesus' life: this one. Surely Mary could have told Luke more about Jesus' childhood. If she was like any mother I ever met, she must have told Luke more about Jesus' childhood! So why did he choose to include only this episode? Probably because this episode from Jesus' childhood has something to teach us about who Jesus was and what his mission was, while the rest of it was quite normal and uneventful. If we did know more, it probably wouldn't tell us anything we really need to know.
Although Scripture does not provide much information about the first thirty years of the life of Jesus, Luke records one event which took place when He was twelve years old. Luke includes this event to show that even at a young age, the prophecies about Jesus and the expectation for Him as the Messiah were already coming true.
The passage really begins with 2:40, but since this was discussed in 2:36-40, only a summary of the commentary on that verse will be repeated here. Verse 40 serves as a conclusion to 2:1-38, and an introduction to 2:41-52. It is a hinge verse, pointing back to a similar statement made about John in 1:80, and also pointing forward to a final summary statement in 2:52. This shows that the text of 2:41-51 builds on all the expectations of Jesus that were announced in 2:1-39, and also reveals that since two of the three statements are about Jesus, He will surpass John. The two statements about Jesus enclose 2:41-51, a passage which shows how Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man, even from a young age.
That Luke includes only this one account from the childhood years of Jesus is not surprising. The emphasis in all Four Gospels of Jesus are about the ministry and mission of Jesus, and so the writers had to be selective in their use of material. Furthermore, "Hellenistic biographies usually featured one childhood incident that was taken to foreshadow the character of the adult. Luke provides this for his knowing (educated) Greco-Roman readers. In this section of the narrative Luke is also engaged once again in moving Jesus up the scale of honor" (Malina 2003:234).
2:41. To provide an historical and cultural reference, Luke records that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover which is also the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Passover commemorates the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt through the death of all the first-born sons. With the image of Passover, Luke raises again the Jewish expectation for a Redeemer who will deliver Israel, both from sin and Roman occupation.
2:42. Luke states that this Passover was when Jesus was twelve years old. Other than this event, and His birth, circumcision, and blessing in 2:1-38, we know nothing else of the first thirty years of Jesus' life. That Jesus is twelve is significant in light of what follows. Generally, it was between the ages of twelve and fourteen that young Jewish men began their formal training in the synagogue, were received into Judaism as a "son of the law," and were expected to begin strict obedience to the law (Barclay 1975:29; Bock 1994:264; Edersheim 1988:235; Pfeiffer 1971:200; Keener, 1994:195; Pentecost 1981:76; Radmacher 1999:1254). Since Jesus is twelve indicates he is surpassing what was expected for someone His age. Josephus records that the Prophet Samuel began his work as a prophet at the age of twelve, and so there may be an allusion here to Jesus being in the story of Samuel's birth and upbringing (Evans 2003:62).
Joseph and Mary went with Jesus up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. Jews were expected to go to Jerusalem three times a year, for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which begins with Passover), the Feast of Weeks (which begins with Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Exodus 34:23). Nevertheless, most Jewish people who lived far from Jerusalem were able to attend only once in their lifetime. Yet attendance was mandatory for those living within fifteen miles of Jerusalem (Barclay 1975:29). Joseph and Mary went each year (v 41), indicating their piety and obedience (Bock 1994:263)..
The feasts play an important role in the New Testament, as God frequently seems to do something important when a large number of Jewish people are gathered together in Jerusalem. This allowed God to spread a message or show a sign to a large number of people. When the people who heard the message or saw the sign went home, the light from Jerusalem spread with them. For a good summary of the historical and political landscape of this time period, see Edersheim 1988:233-254.
2:43. Joseph and Mary most likely did not spend the entire Sabbath week in Jerusalem. They were allowed to return home on the third day if they desired. Furthermore, it was only during the week of Passover that the religious leaders held their public discussions in the temple courtyards (Edersheim 1988:246). If Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had remained in Jerusalem for all seven days of the Feast, Jesus would not have been able to remain behind and participate in such discussions (contra. Bock 1994:265; Pentecost 1981:76). So, Joseph and Mary probably departed on the third or fourth day. The Boy Jesus however, lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it. Very likely, Joseph and Mary had other children at this point, which they were looking after. The term Luke uses to describe Jesus as a boy (Gk. pais) refers to a young child, still dependant upon it's parents. This is probably how Mary and Joseph viewed Jesus, though the text reveals progress in this matter. Here, Jesus is a child. In 2:48, He is a son (Gk. teknon) of Joseph and Mary. But in 2:49, Jesus explains that His Father is God, and by inference, a Son (generally the Gk. huios of God. In this way, Luke is revealing the transition from boyhood to adulthood, and beyond.
2:44. Joseph, Mary, and their family did not make this trip alone. Since Jewish families from all over the Roman Empire would journey to Jerusalem for this feast, they would often travel together. The women would generally leave first, since they traveled more slowly, followed by the men, who would catch up to them by nightfall (Pentecost 1981:76). So Joseph and Mary, if they traveled separately, both assumed that Jesus was with the other parent, or [b]in the company[/] of other friends and family from the vicinity of Nazareth. The journey from Jerusalem to Nazareth was 80 miles, and would take a caravan of people three or four days (Bock 1994:264). After the end of the first day's journey, Joseph and Mary searched for Jesus among their relatives and acquaintances.
2:45. When they were not able to find Jesus, Joseph and Mary returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Verse 45 is almost certainly hides the frantic concern that Joseph and Mary felt in their search for Jesus. They had been given responsibility to teach, raise, and protect the promised Messiah of Israel, and now, they had lost Him. It was not due to carelessness, however, as both assumed He was with one of the others in the caravan.
2:46. It took Joseph and Mary three days to find Jesus. It is uncertain if Luke means that they searched Jerusalem for one day, which when added to the two days of travel (one day away from Jerusalem, one day back) makes three days, or if Luke means they searched for three days, making the total separation five days (one day of travel out, one day of travel back, three days of searching). The second option seems best. Furthermore, if they spent three days in Jerusalem for the Feast, two days traveling, and then three days searching, they would have found Jesus in the Temple on the eighth and final day of the Feast of Passover. But whether the total time of absence was three or five days, Joseph and Mary were almost certainly filled with worry. When they finally found Jesus, He was in the temple. This is the last place the average parent expects to find their twelve year old son, but that is where they found Jesus.
Luke also records what Jesus was doing in the temple. He was sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. This does not suggest that Jesus is lecturing or teaching the religious leaders. Rather, it simply shows that He was fully engaged in the theological discussions of the teachers (Evans 2003:63). It was the custom of the teachers to meet in public in the temple courts during the Feasts to discuss religious and theological questions where everyone could listen and learn (Barclay 1975:29). During Passover, they most likely discussed questions and issues related to Passover history, tradition, and observance (Edersheim 1988:248). This is where Joseph and Mary find Jesus, among a crowd of other students. Questions from the crowd of students were often permitted, and Jesus was among those who asked questions of the teachers, and helped provide answers.
2:47. Those who heard Jesus were astonished at His understanding and answers. This foreshadows the future reactions of the crowds to the teaching and miracles of Jesus (e.g., 4:32; 5:9; 8:56; 9:43). Such amazement indicates that He is gaining honor in their eyes (Malina 2003:235). At twelve years old, His wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures were on par with that of the religious leaders of the day. Through reading and study, Jesus had gained such great knowledge and insight into the Scriptures, that He was able to converse with the most learned teachers. This learning was probably accomplished through His father, Joseph, and from attendance at the local synagogue in Nazareth. Later, the questions and answers between Jesus and the religious leaders would become a challenge-riposte contest, where each tries to bring shame on the other. But here, the crowds are amazed at Jesus, which hints at the possibility that the Jewish religious elite would accept Jesus as the Messiah.
2:48. However, in contrast to the amazement of the crowds, when Joseph and Mary found Jesus, they also were amazed, but for different reasons. They were amazed that Jesus had been in the temple for so many days, knowing that Joseph and Mary were looking for Him and worried about Him. Mary even chastises Jesus by saying, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." Joseph and Mary were understandably a little upset at Jesus. She calls Him son (Gk. teknon), which might be better translated "child." She still views Him as a child, but he corrects her in His reply. The word anxiously (Gk. odunomenoi) indicates "deep mental pain or trauma" (Bock 1994:268). The reader is reminded of Simeon's words in 2:35 that a sword would pierce Mary's heart. The inner trauma she has experienced here foreshadows the future pain she will suffer. She has been frantically looking for Him, and now, when they find Him, He is calmly sitting in the temple, studying Scripture. Mary's frustration is understandable, and she states it using the language of complaint (Bock 1994:268).
2:49. The wisdom of Jesus is evident even here, and set in contrast to Joseph and Mary. Though they have been worried about Him, He gently explains to them that there was no need to seek for Him. They probably should have known that if He was the Messiah, the most logical place for Him to be was the temple. Furthermore, as the Messiah, He would be about [His] Father's business. Some texts read in my father's house which does not significantly affect the meaning of the text (cf. the views in Bock 1994:269). Either way, He was doing what God wanted Him to do, and in so doing, was under God's protection (cf. John 4:34). He is gently telling his earthly parents that He must do the will of God, and they must entrust His safety to God. Furthermore, Jesus turns Mary's use of father in verse 48 to explain that His true Father was in heaven.
There is some debate about when Jesus knew Who He was. It seems that from this text, He at least knew by the age of twelve that He was not the son of Joseph, but rather, the Son of God. Pentecost believes that this statement by Jesus proves "that at this time He was fully conscious of His person, His relationship to His Father, and His mission. There never was a time when Jesus did not know who He was, who His Father was, and why He had come into the world" (Pentecost 1981:77; cf. Bock 1994:271).
2:50. However, despite His growing understanding about His identity, they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Jesus was always being misunderstood, by religious and political rulers, by His disciples, and even by His own family. Part of this is due to His tendency to speak in riddles and parables, but most of it is due to the fact that most people simply didn't understand what kind of Messiah Jesus came to be. All of them must come to understand Who Jesus was, and what He came to do, which is something it seems He already understood. The statement of Jesus in 2:49 is enigmatic in that Joseph and Mary probably didn't think of God as the Father of Jesus, and so the family business was that of Joseph: carpentry. The wisdom and stature of Jesus is set in contrast to everyone else around Him.
2:51. And lest the reader get the idea that Jesus was rebellious and rude, Luke makes sure to write that Jesus went down with His parents to Nazareth, and was subject to them. Jesus was about His Father's business, and part of that business at this point in His life was to obey His parents; to be subject to them. He submitted to them even though they didn't understand what He was about. Their uncertainty about His identity and mission would not only mirror that of other characters in the Gospel, but also those who read Luke's account. In this way, the reader is encouraged to keep reading, and investigate the claims made by Jesus, what He does to prove the validity of those claims, and see how various people responded to such claims. The reader is thus invited to make a similar decision about who Jesus is.
Mary, as usual, kept all these things in her heart. Luke has recorded several times now how Mary wonders and ponders about the things she learns about her Son (1:29; 2:19, 33). Possibly, Mary recalls the words of Gabriel that her son would be named Jesus, and be the Son of God (1:31-32, 35). Now, all have been fulfilled (Green 1997:153). He was named Jesus (2:21), was designated as holy (2:23), and proclaimed Himself as God's Son (2:48-49).
2:52. This verse concludes the triple inclusio began in 1:80 and continued in 2:40. As such, it indicates the conclusion of the birth and childhood development narrative, that Jesus has surpassed John. The primary difference between 1:80, 2:40, and 2:52 is that now Jesus is said to not only be increasing in wisdom...and in favor with God as have been emphasized previously, but now Jesus is also growing in stature and increasing in favor with men. The first shows that Jesus is growing physically, but the second shows that as the promised Messiah, Jesus is fulfilling all expectations which have been spoken about Him by Zacharias, Mary, Elizabeth, the angels, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. The stage is set for Jesus to begin His Messianic mission.
*Luke seems to be intentionally making the birth narrative of Jesus parallel to that of the Prophet Samuel (Quote is from Evans 2003:63):
Just as Samuel is presented to the lord (1 Sam 1:22), so is Jesus (Luke 2:22); just as Hannah (Anna in Greek) sings praises of thanksgiving because of the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10), so does Anna when she sees the infant Jesus (Luke 2:36-38); just as Eli blesses Samuel's parents (1 Samuel 2:20), so Simeon blesses Jesus' parents (Luke 2:34); just as Samuel's growth is summarized (1 Sam 2:21, 26), so is that of Jesus (Luke 2:40, 52); just as Samuel ministered in the temple and showed remarkable spiritual discernment (1 Samuel 3:1-18), so Jesus visited the temple and impressed the religious leaders (Luke 2:41-51).
BLB Commentary - Jesus in His Father's house.
1. (Luke 2:41-45) Jesus is lost on a Passover pilgrimage.
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
a. We know nothing of Jesus' life from the time He was one month old to the time when He was twelve, except for the general statement in Luke 2:40. We may be curious about the details of His childhood, but there isn't anything we need to know except what we are told by the Holy Spirit in the Word.
i. To satisfy this curiosity, men wrote their own so-called "Infancy Gospels." In them, we are told of strange, spectacular and silly miracles like Jesus talking from the manger; healing a man made into a mule by a spell; bringing clay birds to life with a clap of His hands; healing people with a sprinkling with his old bath water, and so forth.
b. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover: Attendance at the major feasts was commanded in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16. It was customary for the faithful of Galilee to make these pilgrimages at feast time in large groups. It would not be difficult to lose track of a young boy with such a large group of travelers-we shouldn't accuse Joseph and Mary of child neglect. But Mary must have felt badly enough, losing the Messiah.
2. (Luke 2:46-50) They find Jesus teaching and learning in the temple.
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
a. Sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions: For three days, a twelve year-old Jesus discussed God's Word and astonished His listeners with His understanding and answers.
i. When we realize the impressive intellectual insight and analysis of Jewish Rabbis, this is impressive. This is sort of like a junior high school kid discussing physics with Einstein. Although, Jesus had a unique advantage, He had a special relationship with the writer of God's Word.
b. I must be about My Father's business: In that day, there was nothing more natural than a son taking up his father's business. Jesus did follow in Joseph's footsteps as a carpenter, but His words here show that He is at least beginning to understand His unique relationship to His Father.
i. It is impossible to say when, in the context of the self-imposed limitations of His humanity, Jesus realized who He was and what He was sent to do, but it was early-this is probably the not when it began, but when it was in full flower.
c. Jewish teachers had determined that at twelve, a boy must begin to learn his trade-so Jesus is just being about His Father's business.
3. (Luke 2:51-52) The growth and development of Jesus.
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
a. And was subject to them: The knowledge of who He was did not make Jesus proud or haughty; Jesus was subject to them. He already has the mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11), the mind willing to put all glory into such a humble package.
b. His mother kept all these things in her heart: Luke probably heard of all this (and of the events about John's and Jesus' births) in personal interviews with Mary as he compiled his Gospel.
c. Jesus increased in wisdom. The development described first in Luke 2:40 continued.
d. Jesus increased in ... stature. Not only did He become bigger physically He also became a bigger person.
e. Jesus increased in ... favor with God and men: He grew in a close, personal relationship with His heavenly Father, and He also grew in His human friendships and relationships.
f. Jesus was not born a "superman." He developed as He grew. "He passed through a natural but perfect spiritual and physical development. At every stage He was perfect for that stage." (Geldenhuys)