SSL 5 - Luke 2:41-52 - MATURED
BACKGROUND: Luke Chapter 2 contains three major sections, and so far, we have covered the first (vv. 1-20), reporting the details of Jesus' birth at Bethlehem, the angelic visitation of the angels (1,000s) to the shepherds, and the worship and witness of the shepherds that followed it and the second (vv. 22-38), reporting the presentation of the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem when He was about six weeks old and the divinely-inspired role of two people serving there, Simeon and Anna, who testified that the infant Jesus was the Messiah foretold by OT prophecy. In these passages, Luke showed that from the very beginning of His life, Jesus is obedient to the Law of Moses and confirmed that his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, were obedient keepers of the Law. With the story of Simeon and Anna, Luke showed us examples of two very faithful people who played a role in Biblical history because they were sensitive to God's voice (the leading of the Spirit) and made themselves available when God called on them. They both saw that Jesus' coming offered hope, light, and salvation to all people. As 21st Century Christians, if we are really and truly convicted of this fact like Simeon and Anna, maybe we will not be so hesitant in sharing this good news with others. This week, in the final section of Luke Chapter 2, we'll cover the one and only story of Jesus' boyhood that appears in any of the gospel accounts. From His presentation at Temple to the beginning of His public ministry, we only get this one brief glimpse of one day in Jesus' life. Surely Mary must have told Luke a lot more about Jesus' life growing up, but if she did, why did Luke choose to only report this one episode? Well, in all likelihood, this event teaches us something about who Jesus is and why He came, while the rest of it wouldn't tell us anything we really need to know. Luke's obvious purpose in reporting this event was to show that even at a young age, the prophecies about Jesus and His destiny as the Messiah were already coming true.
Read 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.
v. 41: Jewish women were allowed to attend the Passover but not required to come. Jewish men who lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem were required to attend annually but for those further away, much less frequently. For Joseph and Mary, the journey from Nazareth was significant, about 60 miles as the crow flies and even further by road. The trip would have entailed several days of travel each way in addition to the week spent in Jerusalem. For people of limited means like these two, this represented a significant commitment of time and money. That they did this every year completely validates the fact that both Joseph and Mary were part of the devout Jewish remnant who faithfully observed the Law of Moses. As we know, the "Feast of the Passover" commemorates the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt, and is the first event of the week-long "Feast of Unleavened Bread." Passover also reminded Jews of their hope for a Redeemer who would deliver Israel from the bondage of sin and oppression.
Read 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.
v. 42: "And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast" - That Jesus is 12 (a number representing wholeness and completion in Judaism) is significant in light of what follows. At this time, at age 13 or 14, a young Jewish man would normally begin his formal training in the synagogue as a "son of the Law" and would be expected to begin living in strict obedience to the Law, but a boy Jesus' age would have had little to no formal instruction at this point.
v. 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." - The text doesn't reveal exactly when Joseph and Mary departed Jerusalem, but the term "full number of days" (less than a week) indicates they may have left before the end of the week. The term Luke uses to describe Jesus, "the boy" (Gk. pais) suggests that Jesus was still young enough to be dependent on his parents.
v. 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" - Because the Jewish pilgrims from Galilee and elsewhere normally traveled in large family groups, it was completely reasonable for Joseph and Mary to assume that Jesus was safely among the families that were headed north. Another consideration is the probability that by this time Joseph and Mary had younger children who required a lot more supervision than Jesus. But at the end of the first day, as they searched for Him, He was nowhere to be found!
Comment: Have you ever lost a child? An unmitigated nightmare, yes? We lost our middle boy once, at age six, at the Atlanta airport in the process of changing planes. I was carrying his baby brother through the crowd while his nine-year-old big brother was supposed to be holding his hand!
v. 45: "When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him" - This verse does not express the frantic concern that both Joseph and Mary must surely have felt in their futile search for Jesus. On top of that, God had given them responsibility to teach, raise, and protect the promised Messiah of Israel and now, they had lost Him! And the slow journey back to Jerusalem-not knowing if He was still there-must have been a time of sheer torture for both of them.
Read 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.
v. 46a: "Then, after three days they found Him in the temple" - You have to remember that there were an estimated two million people in Jerusalem for the Passover, like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It's not certain whether the "three days" was devoted entirely to the search in Jerusalem or included the time to travel back. When they finally found Jesus, He was "in the Temple," which was probably one of the last places they expected their 12-year-old child to be.
v. 46b: "sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions" - This statement doesn't imply that Jesus was teaching or lecturing the teachers but simply shows that he was participating in the discussion with questions and answers. Questions and answers were an encouraged method of Jewish teaching and teachers prized students who asked good questions.
v. 47: "And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers" - This remark foreshadows the future reactions of the crowds who would later hear and see the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Their amazement tells us that at this young age He's already gaining respect in their eyes. At the young age of 12, His level of wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures was far above what might be expected for anyone of his experience. Through His reading and study, Jesus had developed great knowledge and insight into the Scriptures to the extent that he was able to intelligently discuss them with the learned teachers in the Temple. This learning had probably been accomplished through his earthly father, Joseph, and from attendance in the synagogue at Nazareth. This hints at the prospect that later, the Jewish religious elite might accept Jesus as Messiah.
Read Luke 2:48-52 - 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. 52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
v. 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.'" - In contrast to the people listening to Jesus in the Temple, Joseph and Mary, too, were totally amazed, but for different reasons. They were probably nervous wrecks by then and were completely taken aback when they suddenly heard Jesus, their lost son, conversing with the teachers in the Temple. Notice that only Mary speaks. Although the Gospels depict Joseph as a man of action, obeying God's instructions perfectly, they give him no speaking parts. Mary's question to Jesus, "Son, why have you treated us this way?" reflects the distress she must have felt when she discovered Jesus missing combined with his supposed lack of consideration for them.
v. 49: "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" - (Note: these are the first words Jesus speaks in this gospel). Jesus' immediate answer to her could be re-phrased: "Didn't you realize that I would be here in the Temple? The phrase, "I had (Gk. dei-an imperative command] to be in my Father's house" reveals the central purpose of the entire lesson: to show that at age 12, Jesus was clearly aware of who He was-the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
v. 50: "But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them" - What Jesus knew about himself was a deeper reality that no one around him could comprehend. We could say that there was much more to Jesus than what meets the eye. Gabriel had told Mary at the beginning that Jesus would be called the "Son of the Most High" (1:32), but Mary doesn't have the advantage of our hindsight and cannot read the gospels to see how Jesus' life will unfold.
v. 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" - Here, "went down" in two senses" from the geographic high ground of Jerusalem and from the spiritual high ground of the Temple. Just as He voluntarily "emptied Himself" to come down from heaven (Philippians 2:7), Jesus now voluntarily submits to his parents, fulfilling the commandment to honor his father and mother. Though Mary didn't fully understand Jesus' words at this stage she "treasured" them in her heart so that she was able to later repeat them word-for-word to Luke.
v. 52: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" - As this verse attests, Jesus did not spring forth fully-formed from His mother's womb but grew and matured over a period of years. Here, in this lesson, we see Him coming to grips with His identity and calling. His home life in with his parents in Nazareth had been central to this point, but now, in the Temple, he feels the pull of His calling as Messiah. This verse tells us that Jesus grew in three dimensions, each of which is essential to becoming a well-balanced person: (1) "Wisdom" goes beyond a simple understanding of the things of this world to the ability to see people, events, and situations as God sees them; (2) "Stature" indicates growth in both physical and spiritual prominence; (3) "Favor" denotes approval and recognition received from both God and people. The fact that Jesus increased in these three dimensions shows that He had room to grow; it was a process over a period of time, not an instantaneous happening. The church will later emphasize that Jesus was fully God and fully human. Being fully human means that Jesus began His life with the limitations, physical and mental, of a baby. Then He grew to be a 12-year-old boy as we saw Him in this lesson, exceptional, but still a boy, and He later grew to become a man who, as the Messiah, who fulfilled all the expectations that were spoken about Him by Zacharias, .
APPLICATION-In general, God's preparation of Jesus in v. 52 applies to us: to increase in (1) wisdom, (2) stature, and (3) favor with both God and people. Here is the chief premise:
We must imitate the life of Jesus in terms of spiritual growth. Growing spiritually means leaving our comfort zone, letting go of what seems safe and familiar, and moving to a much bigger place-God's house. God, the divine architect, has provided us a blueprint to His house in the form of the Holy Bible. If we are diligent to build God's house into our lives according to His blueprint, we are assured of gaining (1) wisdom, (2) stature, and (3) favor with God and people. While Jesus was fully God and fully human, he went through distinct stages of development, physically and spiritually: Infancy, childhood, adolescence, and manhood. Each of us must go through the same process in order to achieve true spiritual maturity in this life, which is preparation for the next.