Luke 2:41-52 – The Boy Jesus in the Temple

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Luke 2:41

  1. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, north of Jerusalem, so why does it say that they went “up” to Jerusalem? Well, because Jerusalem is on a hill.
  2. According to Exodus 34:22-23, all the men of Israel were to celebrate three feasts each year; Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
  3. As described in the Book of Genesis, Joseph and Mary celebrated Passover every year (Exodus 23:15) in the place that God himself had chosen; Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:2).
    1. The Passover was celebrated for only one day, but was then followed by a seven-day feast called “the feast of unleavened bread” (Luke 22:1).
  4. The fact that Jesus’ parents went “every year” to the Passover means that they were devout and religious Jews.
  5. Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and probably Jesus’ half-siblings (Matthew 13:55-56) had gone to Jerusalem as pilgrims to celebrate this feast.
    1. Probably it was a big and expensive project for a carpenter family to leave their house and their job for a whole week.
    1. Yet we see that the family prioritised God’s will over their own finances, choosing to care about the spiritual and not just the valuable.
    1. In the same way, today we should also think about how we prioritise our time. Of course, we should work and provide for our families, but we should not forget to take care of our spiritual needs as well. It is important to plan and set aside time to go to worship and be with our Father.

Luke 2:42

  1. We know virtually nothing about Jesus’ life from the time he was a baby until he became an adult, except for this small text.
    1. The reason for this gap in Jesus’ life is because we don’t need to know. The Bible is not a historical factual account but tells and highlights what we need to know.
    1. John writes in his Gospel, “Jesus also did many other things. If every event were to be written down, I believe that even the whole world could not contain the books that would then be written.” (John 21:25).
  2. In the Middle Ages, a Jewish tradition had developed whereby Jewish boys at the age of five begin to learn the Torah, the five books of Moses, and then at the age of thirteen undergo their “bar-mitzvah” and thus become personally responsible to obey the Torah, the Law.
    1. We don’t know if this tradition was already in use at the time of Jesus, but perhaps there was something similar.
  3. According to Jewish tradition, one should start learning one’s father’s trade at the age of twelve, and this is exactly what Jesus does when he “devotes himself to what belongs to his Father.”

Luke 2:43

  1. When Jews from Galilee went to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast, they often went in large traveling parties, and it seems that Joseph and Mary assumed that Jesus was somewhere in this traveling party. It is likely that Jesus had some people with whom he associated and whom his parents assumed he was with when they went home.
  2. The fact that Joseph and Mary missed the fact that Jesus was not in the travelling party on the way home shows us that they trusted Jesus.
    1. Both Joseph and Mary knew beforehand that there was something very special about Jesus (Matt 1:21-23, Luke 1:31-33), but they still had a parental responsibility for Jesus.

Luke 2:46-47

  1. It is remarkable that Joseph and Mary search in Jerusalem for three days before they start searching in the temple. All in all, Jesus was gone for five days.
    1. Jesus was most likely aware that they were looking for him and therefore we understand that Jesus was trying to show his parents something.
  2. Jesus was extremely interested in talking about God and the Bible. Not only did he listen to the teachers, but he also asked questions and had discussions with them.
    1. In the same way, we today should also learn from Jesus’ example and be just as inquisitive about the Bible so that we can’t get enough of discussing God.
    1. Personally, I have been struck by a love for the Bible and I spend much of my time and thought researching the Scriptures and learning more about Jesus. My Bible commentaries are a result of this curiosity.
  3. These Jewish rabbis and teachers were extremely knowledgeable about God’s Word, yet they were “amazed” at Jesus’ “reasonable answers.” This was because Jesus had a unique relationship with God.
    1. From this we can learn the important lesson that one can learn more about God by spending time with him than by reading and studying theology.
    1. As a believer, you can really know God and have a living relationship with him.

Luke 2:49

  1. In Jesus’ time it was common to have the same profession as his father, and Jesus did indeed work as a carpenter (Mark 6:3), just like Joseph (Matt 13:55), but here Jesus shows that he is also aware of what he will do in the future.
    1. Jesus is the Son of God and does God the Father’s will here on earth (Luke 10:22, Luke 22:29, John 1:18, John 3:35, John 5:19-20, John 5:36).
    1. Incidentally, this is the last time Joseph appears in the Bible. It seems that Joseph passed away sometime after this event.
  2. Since at the age of twelve Jesus had already grown so much in his spirituality that he already knew what a great mission lay ahead of him, Jesus is surprised that his parents do not go straight to the temple to look for him.
    1. Both Joseph and Mary had met an angel and witnessed the miracle of the virgin birth, so they knew that there was something very special about Jesus and should have understood where he was.
    1. From this we can learn that even if we have had strong spiritual encounters with God, we still need to continue to spend time with our Father. It is not enough to build one’s faith on past experiences; it is better to build one’s faith on a lasting and living relationship with our Father.

Luke 2:50-51

  1. Joseph and Mary were simple and pious people, but they did not have the deep spiritual understanding that Jesus had. So by the age of twelve, Jesus had already grown so much in his spirituality that his parents couldn’t keep up.
    1. Probably this was very difficult for Joseph and Mary to handle, but as we see in verse 51, Jesus made it easy for them by always being “obedient to them”.
    1. Even though Jesus is the Messiah, Lord and Savior and has all power both in heaven and on earth, and was already spiritually more mature than his parents at the age of twelve, he still humbles himself and obeys God’s word and God’s will by thus “honoring his father and his mother” (Exodus 20:12).
    1. In the same way, we should remember today that even if we are further along in our faith than some others, it is important to respect those who are in some way responsible for us. Perhaps you are a young Christian, but you still need to honor your parents. Maybe you feel you are much more mature in your faith than your pastor/minister, but you still need to respect his/her role as shepherd.
  2. Luke himself writes that he wrote down his gospel after he had “carefully researched everything from the beginning” (Luke 1:3). It is likely that Luke met Mary in person and heard her recount this event.
    1. Mary is in many ways a spiritual example. Probably no human being has come as close to Jesus as Mary did. Mary did not always understand everything that Jesus did, but she trusted Jesus and kept what she saw in her heart.
      1. In the same way, today we should also read the Bible about Jesus, reflect on what Jesus does and keep it in our hearts.

Luke 2:52

  1. One of the biggest reasons this one little text describing Jesus’ youth is in the Bible is to tell us that “Jesus grew up in wisdom”.
    1. Even though Jesus is the Son of God, he was not born with the ability to speak, walk or preach.
    1. We see that Jesus was definitely a different boy and that in many ways he had progressed beyond even his parents, yet we see that he was “growing”. In other words, he did not have all knowledge from birth.
  2. An important lesson from this text is that even we who are disciples of Jesus today need to “grow in wisdom” and mature in our relationship with our Father. If this was true of Jesus, it is certainly true of us.
  3. It must have been very strange for Jesus’ family, relatives and friends, for example, never to see Jesus sin or do anything against God’s will (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    1. Here we see that although Jesus was a strange child, he was liked by people and so certainly had many friends in his youth. It seems that Jesus was a person that people enjoyed being with.
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