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Gospel of Luke Chapter 2
Theme: Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in a stable; reception of Jesus; angels announce His birth to shepherds; shepherds visit stable; circumcision of Jesus and purification of Mary; incident in Temple concerning Simeon; incident in Temple concerning Anna; return to Nazareth; visit of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve.
Jesus was brought to the Temple when He was eight days old to be circumcised according to Mosaic Law (Gen.17:12). "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal.4:4-5). As a result of this visit to Jerusalem, we have the stories of Simeon and Anna. This one isolated incident from the boyhood of Jesus is recorded by Luke to let us know that Jesus did have a normal human childhood (verse 52). The Lord "Jesus increased in wisdom (mental) and stature (physical), and in favor with God and man (spiritual)."
In this chapter, we have an account of the birth and infancy of our Lord Jesus, having had notice of His conception, and of the birth and infancy of His forerunner, in the former chapter. The First-begotten is here brought into the world; we all should meet Him with our praises, for blessed is He that cometh.
#1. The place and other circumstances of His birth, which proved Him to be the TRUE Messiah, and such a ONE as we needed, but not such a one as the Jews expected.
#2. The notifying of His birth to the shepherds in that neighborhood by an angel, the song of praise which the angels sang at that time and the spreading of the report of it by the shepherds.
#3.The circumcision of Christ, and the naming of Him.
#4. The presenting of Him in the Temple.
#5. The testimonies of Simeon, and Anna the prophetess, concerning Him.
#6.Christ's growth and capability.
#7. His observing the Passover at twelve years old, and His disputing with the doctors in the Temple.
This, with what we have seen in Matthew chapters 1 & 2, is all we have concerning our Lord Jesus, until He entered upon His public work in His thirtieth year.
Luke's Gospel is historical and written especially for the Greek and the thinking man. It also has a tremendous spiritual purpose which is to PRESENT the Son of Almighty God. There were three great historical nations at this time, with each in its own different way, to prepare the soil for the planting of Christianity: . . . the Jews on the side of the religious element; the Greeks on the side of science and art; the Romans, as masters of the world, on the side of politics." The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were each directed to a particular section of humanity. Matthew was written to the Jew, Mark was written to the Roman, and Luke was written to the Greek. The Greeks are clearly famous from the other great historic races by certain marked characteristics. They were the representatives of reason and humanity in the ancient world. They looked upon themselves as having the mission of perfecting men. Their gods were in the likeness of men, and therefore joined together human culture with utter worldliness and godlessness. Paul was the correct person to go to Athens to enlighten the Greeks about their altar to the "UNKNOWN GOD." Dr. Luke, a Gentile, went with Paul.
The mission of the Greeks was clearly a part of the preparation for the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, forcing the thinking men of that age to feel and confess the insufficiency of human reason, for the deliverance and perfection of mankind. It left them waiting and longing for One who could accomplish this work. The Greek language became a vehicle for getting the Word of God out. The Gospel was communicated to the world in the Greek language. God used Alexander the Great to make it possible.
The East and the West were suddenly brought together. Separated tribes were united under a common government. New cities were built, as the centers of political life. New lines of communication were opened, as the channels of commercial activity. The new culture penetrated the mountain ranges of Pisidia and Lycaonia. The Tigris and Euphrates became Greek rivers. The language of Athens was heard among the Jewish colonies of Babylon; and a Grecian Babylon was built by the conqueror in Egypt and called by his name. Keep this background in mind as we look at the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Place and Other Circumstances of His Birth, Which Proved Him to Be the TRUE Messiah
Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in a Stable (Luke 2:1-7) (Mat.1:18-25)
Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days . . . . means when John the Baptist was born, and Christ was conceived, and His mother pregnant with Him, and the time of His birth drew near. "In those days" . . . there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus; second emperor of Rome; the name Caesar was common to all the emperors, as Pharaoh was to the Egyptians. By Caesar a decree was made and published,
That all the world should be taxed . . . registered or enrolled; for this was not levying a tax, or imposing tribute upon them, but a taking an account of the names of persons, and of their property; which might be done in order to lay a tax upon them, as afterwards there was. For the payment of a tax, there was no need of the appearance of women and children. This enrolment had been determined on by Augustus, when at Tarracon in Spain, twenty seven years before; but he was diverted from it by some disturbances in the empire, so that it was deferred to this time, in which there was a remarkable interposition of divine providence; for had this enrolment been made then, in all likelihood it had not been done now, and Joseph and Mary would not have had occasion to have come to Bethlehem: but so it must be; and thus were things ordered by an infinite, and all wise providence to effect it. This enrolment did not reach to all the parts of the known world, but only to the Roman empire. "All the world should be taxed" means "inhabited earth" and referred to the civilized world of that day.
Luke 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) (KJV)
And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria . . . who was Caesar Augustus? He was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Actually his name was Octavianus and he took the name Caesar. The name Augustus was not a name, but a title. When the senate submitted to him certain titles like king, emperor, and dictator, he was not satisfied. Instead he chose the title Augustus. It had a religious significance, and it was an attempt to deify himself.
It was no accident that Luke mentioned the name of Caesar Augustus. This man signed a tax bill that the whole world (of that day) be taxed. He needed money to raise an army to control his vast empire and to live in luxury himself. Times have not changed much there, have they?
Luke 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (KJV)
And all went to be taxed . . . throughout Judea, Galilee, and Syria; men, women, and children;
Every one into his own city . . . where he was born, and had any property, and to which he belonged.
Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) (KJV)
And Joseph also went up from Galilee . . . where he now lived, and worked at the trade of a carpenter; at his native place:
Out of the city of Nazareth . . . which was in Galilee, where he and Mary lived; and where he had espoused her, and she had conceived of the Holy Ghost:
Into Judea . . . which lay higher than Galilee, and therefore he is said to go up to it:
Unto the city of David . . . not what was built by him, but where he was born and lived (1 Sam.17:12).
Which is called Bethlehem . . . the place where, according to (Mic.5:2), the Messiah was to be born, and WAS born; and which means "the house of bread": a very fit place for Christ, the Bread which came down from Heaven (Jn.6:51,58): and gives life to the world, to appear first in. This place was, as a Jewish writer says was six miles from Jerusalem; although another of their writers, an historian and traveler about eight miles.
Because he was of the house and lineage of David . . . because Joseph was the head of his family, and lineally descended from him, even though he was so poor, this is the reason of his coming to Bethlehem, David's city.
Luke 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. (KJV)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife . . . whom also he had married, though he had not known her in a carnal way; she came along with him to be taxed and enrolled also, because she was of the same family of David, and belonged to the same city:
Being great with child . . . very near her time. It was all in the Hands of the Almighty God, she was obliged by this edict, to come to Bethlehem; and the providence in it was, that she might give birth there, and so that the prophecy in (Mic.5:2) might be fulfilled, and as an example, of obedience to civil magistrates.
Luke 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (KJV)
And so it was, that while they were there . . . at Bethlehem, waiting to be called and enrolled in their turn;
The days were accomplished that she should be delivered . . . the nine months of her going with child were ended, and her full time to give birth was come.
Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (KJV)
And she brought forth her firstborn son . . . at Bethlehem, as was prophesied, for the Jews themselves own, that the Messiah is already born, and born at Bethlehem. Jesus is called Mary's firstborn, because she had none before Him; although she did have more children later. Christ, as to His human nature; was Mary's firstborn; and as to His divine nature, God's firstborn. Jesus’ brothers: (Mat.12:46-47; 13:55-56; Jn.2:12; Acts 1:14; Gal.1:19; Mat.1:25; Lk.2:7). Jesus’ sisters: (Mat.13:56; Mk.6:3).
And wrapped him in swaddling clothes . . . which shows, that Jesus was in all things made like us, with the exception of sin. This is one of the first things done to a new born infant, after that it is washed, and its navel cut; see (Eze.16:4), and which Mary did herself, having neither midwife nor nurse with her; from whence it has been concluded, that the birth of Jesus was easy, and that she brought him forth without pain, and not in that sorrow women usually do.
And laid him in a manger . . . His cradle was a manger, in which they placed food for cattle and sheep; because in the place where they came, they had no cradle, for they were in a barn . . . this shows the lowness of our Lord's birth, and into what a low estate He came; and that now, as afterwards, though Lord of all, yet had no where to lay His head in a proper place; His amazing grace, in that He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor: and the reason of His being here laid was,
Because there was no room for them in the inn . . . it seems that Joseph had no house of his own to go into, nor any relation and friend to receive him: and it may be, both his own father and Mary's father were dead, and therefore were obliged to put up at an inn; and at this time, there was no room for them, because of the multitude that were come there to be enrolled.
Reception Of Jesus: Angels Announce His Birth To Shepherds; Shepherds Visit Stable (Luke 2:8-20)
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (KJV)
And there were in the same country shepherds . . . for Bethlehem was a place of pastures: near to Ephrata, the same with Bethlehem, were the fields of the wood (Ps.132:6), and the tower of Edar or the tower of the flock (Gen.35:21; Mic.4:8), and here David kept his father's sheep (1 Sam.17:15), so that we need not wonder to hear of shepherds being there.
Abiding in the field, watching over their flock by night . . . from where it appears, that Christ was born in the night; and it is a tradition of the Jews, that Christ will come in the middle of the night, as was the Passover in Egypt. It is not likely that He was born, as is commonly believed that it was the end of December, in the middle of winter, because at this time, shepherds were out in the fields, where they lodged all night, watching their flocks.
Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (KJV)
And lo, the angel of the Lord . . . it may be Gabriel, who had brought the tidings of the conception of the Messiah to the virgin, and now the birth of Him to the shepherds. We are not old, so we need not know.
Came upon them . . . all of a sudden, unexpectedly, all at once, the angel stood over them, over their heads, just above them; so that he was easily and perfectly seen by them;
And the glory of the Lord shone round about them . . . an extraordinary light shone with surprising brightness all around them; by which light, they could easily see the form of the angel that was over them.
And they were sore afraid . . . at the sight of such a sight, and at such unusual light and glory all around them. They were not used to such appearances, and were awed with the majesty of God, of which these were symbols, and were deeply conscious of themselves and their own sinfulness and weakness.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (KJV)
And the angel said unto them; fear not . . . for he was not a messenger of bad news, but of good tidings:
For behold, I bring you good tidings . . . tidings, that were both wonderful and amazing, and therefore a "behold" is prefixed to them, as well as to excite to attention; and which was good news, and glad tidings, for such the birth of Christ of a virgin is!
Of great joy . . . not carnal, but spiritual; not feigned, but real; not temporary, but eternal; such as cannot be taken away, nor meddled with; not small, but great, joy unspeakable, and full of glory:
Which shall be to all people . . . not to every individual of mankind; not to Herod and his courtiers, who were troubled at it; nor to the greater part of the Jewish nation, who when He came to them, received Him not, but rejected Him as the Messiah; particularly not to the chief priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, who when they saw Him, said, this is the heir, let's kill Him (Mk.12:7), and seize on the inheritance; BUT . . . instead, to all that were waiting for Him, and were looking for redemption in Israel; to all sensible sinners who rejoice at His birth, and in His salvation (Isa.9:3,6), to ALL the chosen people of God, be they Jews or Gentiles, whom God has taken to be His covenant people, and has given to His Son, to redeem and save. To these the incarnation of Christ, with all the benefits resulting from it, is the cause of great joy, when they are made a willing people in the day of Christ's power.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (KJV)
For unto you is born this day . . . day here is for a natural day, consisting both of night and day; for it was night when Christ was born, and the angels brought the tidings of it to the shepherds. The particular day, and it may be, month and year, in which Christ was born, cannot be certainly known; but of this we may be sure, it was in the fulness of time (Gal.44), and at the exact, season fixed upon between God and Christ in the council and covenant of peace; and that He was born, not unto, or for the good of angels; for the good angels have no need of His incarnation, sufferings, and death, having never fell; and as for the evil angels, a Saviour was never designed and provided for them; nor did Christ take on Him their nature, nor suffer in their stead: wherefore the angel does not say, "unto us", but "unto you", unto you men; for he means not just the shepherds, or the Jews only, but the Gentiles also; ALL the children, ALL the spiritual seed of Abraham (Gal.3:36-39), ALL the elect; for their sakes and for their good, he assumed human nature. (Isa.9:6; eb.2:14,16).
In the city of David . . . in Bethlehem, as in verse 4, where the Messiah was to be born, as being, according to the flesh, of the seed of David, his son and offspring; as He is, according to His divine nature, his Lord and root. The characters of this new born Child follow, and which prove the tidings of His birth to be good, and matter of joy:
A Saviour . . . whom God had provided and appointed from all eternity; and had been long promised and much expected as such in time, even from the beginning of the world; and Who is a Great One, being God as well as Man, and so is able to work out a great salvation for great sinners, which He has done. The Saviour is as willing to save and He is well able, so is a Complete Saviour, and Jesus is an only, and and everlasting one! Only Jesus can save from sin, from Satan, from the law, from the world, from death, Hell, the wrath to come, and from our every enemy.
Which is Christ the Lord . . . the Messiah spoken of by the prophets; the anointed of the Lord, with the Holy Ghost without measure (Jn.3:34), to be a Prophet, Priest and King in His church; and who is the TRUE God, the Lord our righteousness, the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of angels, good and bad, the Lord of all men, as Creator, the Prince of the kings of the earth, the Lord of lords, and King of kings; and who is especially the Lord of saints by His Father's gift, His own purchase, the espousal of them to Himself, and by the power of His grace upon them. The birth of such a Person must be joyful, and is to be accounted as the best of good news, and glad tidings.
Luke 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (KJV)
And this shall be a sign unto you . . . when the shepherds would come to Bethlehem, and to the inn where Joseph and Mary were:
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger . . . for even though there might be many other children in the inn, there were none others in swaddling clothes, at least lying in a manger! This sign would distinguish the new born Saviour from all others. Had the angel not given them this information, they would never have thought to have looked for Him in such a place: and it might have been a stumbling stone to them, and an objection with them against His being Christ, the Lord, had they not been told beforehand WHERE He was and what to look for.
Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (KJV)
And suddenly there was with the angel . . . that brought the tidings of Christ's birth to the shepherds: a multitude of the heavenly host: who flew swiftly, were at once with them . . . . by his side and around Him; which was further confirmation of the Truth of the angel's message to them. These were the angels who were called an host, or army, the militia of heaven, the ministers of God, that wait upon Him, and do His pleasure; and are sent forth to minister to His people, and encamp around them, preserve and defend them (Gen.32:1-2). These are called a heavenly host, because they dwell in Heaven; and to distinguish them from hosts and armies on earth; and said to be
A multitude . . . because God's angels are innumerable; there are thousands, ten thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand of them (Dan.7:10; Rev.5:11): it is right that they be called "a multitude", and may mean the whole company of God's angels, who were all of them together to sing the praises of God, and glorify Him at the birth of the incarnate Saviour. Heb.1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (KJV)
Praising God . . . because of the birth of Christ, and the redemption that was to be obtained by Him, for the elect; which shows the angels friendly disposition to the saints, and how much they rejoice at their spiritual and eternal welfare (Lk.15:10). And too, as at the laying of the foundation of the earth, these "morning stars sang together, and all these sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7), they did the same when the foundation of man's salvation was laid in the incarnation of the Son of God,
And saying . . . as follows.
Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV)
Glory to God in the highest . . . this is not just a wish, that so it might be; this is an affirmation, that it WAS so . . . for the glory of God is great in the salvation, peace, and reconciliation of His people by Christ Jesus, even the glory of all His perfections; of His wisdom and prudence in forming such a Plan; of His love, His grace and His mercy.
And on earth peace . . . this does not mean external peace, although at this time there was peace on Earth all over the world. I think this means internal, spiritual peace because Christ Jesus is "our peace" (Eph.2:14), and He was now on Earth, being just born, in order to make peace with God for us, and reconciliation for the sins of the people: and He is so called, because He is the author of salvation (Heb.5:9; 12:2).
Good will towards men . . . Jesus is the only One who can bring the free favor, good will and good pleasure of God to the chosen ones in Christ Jesus, for Christ was on Earth as the peacemaker, which is owing to God's good will; not to angels, for good angels do NOT need Him as such; and the evil angels that sinned were not spared (2 Pet.4), nor was a Saviour provided for them. The Saviour was provided only to those who believe God (1 Jn.5:10-13), and have faith in Christ Jesus to be able to save them (Gal.2:16), and share in the providential goodness of God. Do you have a foundation laid in the Christ (1 Cor.3:11-12) for a good hope of reconciliation, righteousness, pardon and eternal life (Tit.1:2)? If not, why not? You do not know when your time on Earth will be over, and after that it will be too late!
Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. (KJV)
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven . . . the angels were gone away from them, back into Heaven from where they came from. And as soon as the multitude was gone,
The shepherds said one to another, let us now go even to Bethlehem . . . the place where the angel said the Saviour was born,
And see this thing which hath come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us. . . it was not that they were questioning the Truth of what the angel said, for they firmly believed what was told to them by the angel, and that what he said was from the Lord. It was the will of God that they should go, and for which they had a sign given them by which they might know the new born Saviour from any other infant (verse 12), and which would also be further confirmation of their faith, and by which they would be qualified not only as ear, but as eyewitnesses of the Truth of this fact, to report it with greater certainty.
Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (KJV)
And they came with haste . . . in the night, leaving their flocks, to see their incarnate Lord, just as Zacchaeus hastened down from the tree to receive the Saviour (Lk.19:5). The magnificence of the vision, the importance of the thing, the eagerness to see this thing that was told them, and they hastened to the city quickly.
And found Mary and Joseph . . . just as they had been directed by the angel; in the city of Bethlehem, in an inn there, and in a stable in the inn.
And the babe lying in a manger . . . where Mary had put the Baby, wrapped it in swaddling clothes, as soon as He was born.
Luke 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (KJV)
And when they had seen it . . . "them" is Joseph, Mary, and the Child; the whole matter as had been related to them.
They made known abroad . . . not only in the inn, and among all the people there but all through the city of Bethlehem,
The saying which was told them concerning this child . . . both what the angel had told them concerning His birth, and what He was, and where He lay; and what Mary had told them concerning the notice she had from an angel of the conception of Him, and the manner of it, and of what He should be; also what Joseph had told them, how an angel had appeared to him (Mat.1:24), and had told him, about the conception of Jesus, that it was of the Holy Ghost; and was bid to call His Name Jesus: as Mary also was told (Lk.1:31), because He was to be the Saviour of His people from their sins. There is no doubt in my mind that that the shepherds had a conversation with Joseph and Mary about the Child, and what was told them, they must make known abroad all that they had seen and heard concerning this amazing matter, for they were indeed witnesses to an astonishing event to say the least.
Luke 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (KJV)
And all they that heard it . . . what the shepherds related of what they had heard from the angel, and from Joseph and Mary, and what they had seen themselves;
Wondered at those things that were told them by the shepherds . . . for although the Jews expected the Messiah, and that He would be born at Bethlehem, yet they did not imagine that He would be born of parents of such a low status, and appear in such a disgraceful place; and that shepherds, and NOT the princes of Israel, would receive first notice of it.
Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (KJV)
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart . . . all that the shepherds had told her. I am sure her mind was working over-time at this point, but she said nothing of them to others, lest she should be thought to be a vain boaster.
Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (KJV)
And the shepherds returned . . . from Bethlehem, to the fields, and to their flock there;
Glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard . . . from Joseph and Mary,
And seen . . . the new born Babe lying in the manger:
As it was told unto them . . . by the angel. They glorified God because of the birth of the Messiah; and praised Him, marveling at the grace of God, and the high honor put upon them, that they alone should be made aware of it; and that everything that the angel had told them was exactly as they found it.
Circumcision Of Jesus And Purification Of Mary (Luke 2:21-24)
Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (KJV)
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child . . . according to the original institution of circumcision (Gen.17:12), and which was strictly observed by religious persons, as were the parents of the Lord here, and by those of John the Baptist (Lk.1:59). The Apostle Paul considered this among his privileges, that he could have boasted of as well as other Jews (Phil.3:5). It may be asked, why was Christ circumcised, since He had no impurity of nature, which circumcision supposed; nor needed any circumcision of the heart, which that was a symbol of? The answer is, although He did NOT need it Himself, it was the duty of His parents to do it, since all the male seed of Abraham were obligated to do so, and that law, or ordinance, was still then in force; and also, it was necessary that He might appear in the likeness of sinful flesh, who was to bear, and atone for the sins of His people; as also, that it might be manifest that He assumed true and real flesh, and was a partaker of the same flesh and blood with us; and that He was a son of Abraham, and of his seed (Gen.12:2-3). Christ Jesus was made under the law (Gal.4:4), He came to fulfil it (Mat.5:17), and was obligated to it, as every one that is circumcised is.
His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb . . . (Lk. 1:31). It appears from this, and from the instance of John the Baptist, that it was at circumcision, it was usual to give names to children (Lk.1:57).
Luke 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (KJV)
And when the days of purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished . . . among the Jews, a mother was required to remain at home for forty days after the birth of a male child and about eighty for a female, and during that time she was considered impure, and she was not permitted to go to the Temple or to engage in religious services with the congregation (Lev.12:3-4). After the days of her purification were done,
They brought him to Jerusalem . . . where the Temple was, and where the ordinances of religion were celebrated, to present Him to the Lord. Every first-born male child among the Jews was regarded as holy to the Lord (Ex.13:2). By their being holy unto the Lord meant that unto them belonged the office of priests. They were to be set apart to the service of God . . . to offer sacrifice, and to perform the duties of religion. It is most likely that at first the duties of religion were passed on through the father, and that, when he became in bad health or died, that duty rested on the eldest son. Afterward God chose the tribe of Levi in the place to serve Him in the sanctuary (Num.8 13-18), but it was still proper to present the child to God, and it was required that it should be done with an offering.
Mary, as a sinner (Rom.3:10,23), had to bring a sacrifice to the Lord. She needed a Saviour, just as she readily admitted (Lk.1:47). Even though Mary was not polluted by the conception, bearing or bringing forth of Jesus, that holy thing born of her (Lk.1:35); she was in the account of the law clean; and even though Jesus had no impurity in His nature, yet seeing He was made sin for His people, both came under this law of purification. It is here Mary appeared with her firstborn Son, the true Messiah; and this was the first time of His coming into His temple, as was foretold (Mal.3:1).
Luke 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) (KJV)
As it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth the womb, shall be called holy to the Lord . . . (Ex.13:2,13), meaning devoted and consecrated to Him, and so to be redeemed. The reason of this law was that when God smote all the firstborn of Egypt, He saved the firstborn of Israel; and therefore He claimed a right to them, and their parents were so obligated, except the Levites.
Incident In Temple Concerning Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
Luke 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. (KJV)
And to offer a sacrifice . . . when the time of purification came, the parents of the Lord brought Him from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, to present Him in the Temple to the Lord as His, and to redeem Him; and not only this, but to offer the sacrifice required of child-bed women.
According to that which is said in the law of the Lord . . . (Lev.12:8).
A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons . . . if the person was able, she was to bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering; and a young pigeon, or a turtle dove, for a sin offering . . . but in case of poverty, one turtle dove or pigeon was for a burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering. When burnt offerings and sin offerings were brought together, the sin offering was offered first.
Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. (KJV)
And behold there was a man in Jerusalem . . . not in Nazareth or Bethlehem, but in Jerusalem, the hub of the nation.
Whose name was Simeon . . . not Simeon, "the just", the last of the men of the great synagogue, of whom the Jews often mention, although this Simeon bears the same character. Many have thought, that this was Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell, who was president of the Sanhedrim forty years; and in which office this his son succeeded him; and which Simeon was the father of Gamaliel, the master of the Apostle Paul (Acts 22:3).
And the same man was just and devout . . . he was a holy, good man in his life and conversation, one that feared God and avoided evil. He was righteous before men, and devoted to God, and exercised a conscience void of offence to both.
Waiting for the consolation of Israel . . . the Messiah, who sometimes is called "the Comforter". Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
(KJV) . . . When he is called here, "the consolation of Israel", it does not mean the whole Jewish nation; for Messiah was FAR from being a comfort to them all, for through their corruption and wickedness, He came NOT to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (KJV) . . . He set at variance the nearest relatives and friends among them; and through their unbelief and rejection of Him, wrath came upon them to the uttermost! He was consolation of Israel only to the TRUE and spiritual Israel of God (Rom.9:6), whom He has chosen, redeemed, and called, be they Jews or Gentiles; THESE are His own special and peculiar people, the heirs of promise; and who are often mourners in Zion, and being steadily burdened because of sin.
And the Holy Ghost was upon him . . . not in the ordinary way, as He is upon all that are called by grace, as a Spirit of regeneration and sanctification (Rom.8:9; 1 Jn.4:4) . . . but :in an extraordinary way, as a Spirit of prophecy . . . for although prophecy had ceased among the Jews, from the times of Malachi, yet upon the conception and birth of Christ, it now returned; as to Zacharias, Elisabeth, and the virgin Mary, and now here to Simeon, as is clear from what follows.
Luke 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (KJV)
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost . . . not in a dream, as the wise men were warned, nor by an angel, as Joseph, nor by a voice from Heaven, but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, enlightening his understanding, and impressing on his mind:
That he should not see death . . . (Ps.89:48), the same with the phrase, "to taste death", "that he should not die".
Before he had seen the Lord's Christ . . . with his bodily eyes: for he had seen him with an eye of faith already, and too, in the Promise, as Abraham had; and in the types and sacrifices of the law, as the rest of believers under the Old Testament. The Messiah is called the Lord's Christ, referring to Psalm 2:2, because He was anointed by God, the Father, and by the Holy Spirit with the oil of gladness (Ps.45:7), to be Prophet, Priest and King in the Lord's House.
Luke 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, (KJV)
And he came by the Spirit into the temple . . . by the same Spirit of God, that revealed the above to him. I do not think Simeon was brought there in a like manner as Ezekiel was brought by the Spirit to Jerusalem (Eze.8:3). Nor do I think Simeon was brought to the Temple the way that Christ was brought by Satan to the holy city and set upon the pinnacle of the temple (Mat.4:5). I think the Holy Spirit impressed upon Simeon's mind that now was the time, and he went.
And when the parents brought in the child Jesus . . . when Joseph and Mary brought Christ into the Temple. Mary was His real parent, Joseph is called so, as he is His earthly father (verse 48), because he was supposed, and generally thought to be so (Lk.3:23).
To do for him after the custom of the law . . . as was done in such a case, according to the law, namely, to present Him to the Lord, and to pay the redemption money for Him (Num.18:15-17).
Luke 2:28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, (KJV)
Then took he him up in his arms . . . that same Spirit that had revealed unto Simeon that he should not die till He saw the Messiah with his bodily eyes; and who by an impulse had moved him to go to the Temple at just the right time, when the Child which Joseph and Mary then brought into the Temple to present to the Lord, was the Messiah. What a joyful moment that must have been. Simeon took Jesus out of their arms into his own, embracing Him with great affection and respect. Some think he was a priest, and it was his office to present the firstborn to the Lord, he took him in his arms, and did it. I feel the first is more agreeable.
And blessed God . . . praised Him, and gave glory to Him, for His great goodness, in sending the Promised Messiah, and long awaited Saviour; for His grace and favor, in permitting him to see the Messiah, and for His truth and faithfulness in making good His Promise to him.
And said . . . as follows.
Luke 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: (KJV)
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant . . . Simeon acknowledges Him as his Lord, and to have a power over him with respect to life and death; with himself as His servant, which he was, both by creation and grace. Being a servant of the Lord Jesus expresses meekness, and a sense of unworthiness, and yet to be a servant of the most high God, is a extremely high and honorable situation, then and now. What Simeon requests of the Lord is that he might,
Depart in peace . . . meaning that he was ready to die, and with joyfulness he would meet death, having obtained all that he could wish for and desire, his seeing and embracing the Saviour. He expresses his death, by a departure out of the world, as in (Jn.13:1. Phil.1:21), agreeing to the way of speaking of it among the Jews, and by a word, which means a loosing of bonds. Death is a dissolving the union between soul and body, a separation of body and soul, and a deliverance, as from prison and bondage, the body seeming to be a prison to the soul in the present state of things. Simeon seemed restless in his desire to leave the world, and enter into eternity. Death to an unbeliever is a terrible thing, but Simeon met it head on with great calmness and tranquillity of the mind. That is what faith can accomplish in us too, as it did Simeon. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (KJV) According to thy word . . . Simeon seems to have understood by the revelation made to him, that he should not die before he saw the Messiah, so, when he had seen Him, that he would soon, in a very short time after, be removed by death.
Luke 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, (KJV)
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation . . . the Messiah, who is often so called; see (Gen.49:18; Isa.49:6; 52.10). He goes by the name of "Salvation", because the salvation of God's elect is put into His Hands, and He has undertaken it; and because He is the author of it (Heb.5:9), He has fulfilled His engagements, and has accomplished what He promised to do. Because salvation is in Him, it is to be had only in Him; and in Him the TRUE Israel of God are saved, with an everlasting salvation. Many saw the full-grown "man, Christ Jesus," who NEVER saw in Him as "God's Salvation." Simeon's seeing the Baby as an object of sight, a helpless Baby, was pure faith. He "beheld His glory" (Jn.1:14), Simeon's prior faith was rewarded by the present sight of the Salvation of the world!
Luke 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; (KJV)
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people . . . in His eternal purposes and decrees, having chosen and foreordained Christ, and appointed Him to be His salvation, to the ends of the earth. There is only ONE Salvation of God and that is His precious Son (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12). The Bible tells us that IF we want to have eternal life in Heaven one day, we must believe God (1 Jn.5:10-12), and have faith in His only begotten Son (Jn.3:15-18,36). Before the face of all people . . . this does not mean the congregation of Israel, that looked for redemption in Jerusalem, and who were now together with Simeon and Anna, when the Child Jesus was presented in the Temple; nor the whole of the Jewish nation, to whom He was made manifest, had they not wilfully shut their eyes to John's ministry and baptism; and worse, to the miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did by Christ, in the midst of them. This means BOTH Jews and Gentiles: for He was provided and sent as a Saviour, who would be lifted up on the cross, as the serpent was lifted up by Moses in the wilderness (Num.21:9), to draw ALL His elect to Him, of EVERY nation; to be the object of faith and hope, to look unto, for life and salvation.
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (KJV)
A light to lighten the Gentiles . . . or for the revelation of the Gentiles; to reveal the love, grace and mercy of God, an everlasting righteousness, and the way of life and salvation to them. This seems to refer to Isa.42:6; 49:6). "Light", is one of the names of the Messiah in the Old Testament, as in (Ps.43:3; Dan.2:22), and is a Name often used of Him in the New Testament (Jn.1:4-9). It is true of Jesus as God, He is Light itself, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 Jn.1:5); and as the Creator of mankind (Jn.1:3; Eph.3:9; Col.1:16-17; Heb.1:10,2:10;3:4; 11:3). Simeon, under divine inspiration, declares, and blessed by God, it has proved true: he adds,
And the glory of thy people Israel . . . which is true of Israel in a literal sense, for the Messiah was born of the Jews, and among them; and was first sent and came to them, and lived and dwelled with them; taught in their streets, and performed His miracles in their midst. Their ingratitude, unbelief and rejection of Him and His Gospel brought the wrath of God down on them.
Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him . . . about the Child Jesus. Joseph and Mary were amazed when this old man took their son into his arms and spoke such amazing words. Simeon said that Jesus was a Gift from God, and he recognized Jesus as the Messiah who would be a Light to the entire world. This was at least the second time that Mary had been greeted with a prophecy about her Son; the first time was when Elizabeth had welcomed her as the mother of her Lord (Lk.1:42-45).
Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (KJV)
And Simeon blessed them . . . blessed Joseph and Mary because of their relationship to Christ as Man; and because of their interest in Him, as the Saviour and Redeemer of them. He wished them all happiness and prosperity inward and outward, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel . . . Simeon seemed to be at a loss, as to what Name to call this great and illustrious Person, and therefore it is left to be supplied. The sense is, that this Child, who is the Stone of Israel, is set, or put, or lies, BOTH as a stone of stumbling, AND a rock of offence. Many of the Jews stumble at, fall and perish. And as precious corner and foundation stone, He was used for the erection and elevation of many others Jews, to lift them to the highest honor and dignity, that of being a child of God (1 Jn.3:1).
The Jews DID stumble at His birth, His parentage and His education; at the lowliness of Him, at the company He kept, and the multitude of followers that attended Him; at His doctrine and miracles, and at His sufferings and death. They fell, through their unbelief and rejection of Him as the Messiah; and not only from their outward privileges, civil and religious; but too, the Gospel was taken away from them, the national covenant between God and them was broken, and they ceased to be His people (Hos.1:9; Rom.9:26), their Temple and city were destroyed, and God's Holy wrath came upon their nation to the uttermost! But the worst is, they also fell into everlasting perdition, dying in their sins, because of their unbelief of Jesus as the Messiah. This was not the case of ALL of them; for there always remains a seed, a remnant, according to the election of grace, but it was the case of so many, and of the far greater part of them (Mat.7:13), than of this same Stone that was laid in Zion, who was also,
Set for the rising again of many . . . not meaning for their resurrection in a literal sense, although this is true: for as all God's elect, whether Jews or Gentiles, shall be raised one day (Jn.6:39,40,44,54). I think the rising again of many here means those who BELIEVED (Mat.7:14) were lifted up to the children of God through faith in Jesus. What an awesome privilege this is!
For a sign which shall be spoken against . . . refers to (Isa.8:18). Christ is the SIGN of God's everlasting love to His people, the great proof, evidence, and demonstration of that love; and in this respect, is spoken against by many. Christ Jesus is set up in the Gospel, as an ensign, a banner of the people to look at, and gather to, for comfort, peace, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life; but is by SO many contradicted, opposed, and treated with contempt and hatred . . . so that He appears rather to be set as a bull's eye to shoot at. He was spoken against by the Scribes and Pharisees, and the greater part of the people of the Jews, and He was contradicted as the Messiah, because of his lowly appearance among them. His proper deity was denied, His divine sonship was opposed; He was ridiculed in all His offices, Kingly, Priestly and Prophetic. His works of mercy, both to the bodies and souls of men, His miracles, and the whole of His life and actions, were looked at as sinful and criminal by so many of the Jews AND in today's world . . . ALL people from all nations! This contradiction of sinners against Himself, He patiently endured (Heb.12:3), and for which He was set and appointed. This ungodly contradiction continues, and will continue as long as the Gospel is preached.
The fall . . . the word fall here means misery, suffering, disappointment, or ruin. There is a plain reference to the Passage where it is said that He would be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence (Isa.8:14-15). Most of the Jews expected a temporal prince, but were disappointed. John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (KJV) . . . They loved darkness rather than light, and rejected him, and fell unto destruction. Many that were proud were brought low by His preaching. They fell from the vain and giddy height of their own self-righteousness, and were humbled before Almighty God. The nation also rejected Him and put Him to death, and, as a judgment, fell into the hands of the Romans. Thousands were led into captivity, and thousands perished. The nation was lie ruin, the Temple was destroyed, and the people were scattered into all the nations. Stumbling- stone: Rom.9:32-33; 1 Pet.2:8; 1 Cor.1:23-24).
And rising again . . . it seems to be that the same persons would fall and rise again; but I do not think that is the meaning of the Passage. It means that many would be ruined by His Coming, and that many others would be made happy and be saved. Many of the poor and humble, that were willing to receive Him, would obtain pardon of sin and peace-would rise from their sins and sorrows here, and one day ascend to eternal life.
And for a sign . . . a sign here means a distinguished object, and the Lord Jesus was such an Object of contempt and rejection by all the people. He was despised, and His religion has been the common mark or sign for all the wicked, the corrupt, and the profane, to curse, and ridicule, and oppose (Isa.8:18; Acts 28:22). Never was a prophecy more exactly fulfilled than this. Thousands upon thousands have rejected the Gospel and fallen into eternal destruction; thousands upon thousands are still falling because they are ashamed of Jesus; thousands uopn blaspheme Him, deny Him, speak all manner of evil against Him, and would crucify Him again IF He were in their hands . . . BUT thousands upon thousands are also by Him renewed, justified, and raised up to life and peace. Thank You Jesus!
Luke 2:35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (KJV)
Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also . . . Simeon speaks to Mary about the sufferings and death of her Son and how deeply they would afflict her soul. If Mary had not been forewarned as she was, and sustained by strong faith, she could not have borne the trials which came upon the Son. But God is good, and He prepared her for it, and the mother of her dying Saviour was sustained.
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed . . . NOTHING brings out the deep feelings of sinners as to tell them about Christ Jesus! Many people treat Him with silent contempt; many are ready to gnash their teeth; many curse Him; and they all show how much by nature the heart is opposed to the goodness and purity of God. 1 Cor. 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
Simeon prophesied that Jesus would have an opposing effect on Israel. Some would fall because of Him (Isa.8:14-15), while others would rise (Mal.4:2). With Jesus, there is NEVER a neutral ground! You CANNOT sit up on the fence! You have to decide one way or the other! People would either joyfully accept Him or totally reject Him. As Jesus' mother, Mary would be grieved by the widespread rejection He would face. This is the first note of sorrow in Luke's Gospel.
Incident In Temple Concerning Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; (KJV)
And there was one Anna . . . the name is the same as Hannah: so Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is by the Septuagint called Anna, in (1 Sam.1:5). It means "grace"; or "gracious": and as was her name, so she was, a gracious woman; having the grace of God in her.
A prophetess . . . although prophecy had ceased among the Jews for hundreds of years, it now revived upon the coming of the Messiah; and although instances of women prophets were rare, yet some were there, both before, and after the coming of Christ; as Miriam (Ex.15:20), the sister of Moses and Aaron, Deborah (Judg.4:4), the wife of Lapidoth, and Huldah (2 Ki.22:14), the wife of Shallum; Noadiah (Neh.6:14) and this Anna, at the time of Christ's birth, and afterwards four daughters of Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:9), who were virgins. This woman, Anna, was
The daughter of Phanuel . . . it is the same name as Penuel (1 Chron.4:4; 8:25).
This man might be a person of some note, or he may be mentioned for the sake of his name, which signifies the Face of God, and is the name Jacob gave to a certain place where he had seen God face to face (Gen.32:30-31). And now Phanuel's daughter both saw and gave the light of the knowledge of God, in the Face of Christ Jesus, and now beheld His face in the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever.
Of the tribe of Aser . . . the same as Asher (Gen.30:13). This tribe had its seat in Galilee; so that although the Jews denied that any prophet came from there, yet it seems this prophetess did.
She was of a great age . . . the phrase is the same "stricken in years" (Lk.1:7). Anna, like Simeon, was elderly.
And had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity . . . this is mentioned to observe her chastity, that she was in her virginity, or a chaste virgin, when she became a wife; such an one as the high priest was to have (Lev.21:13), and that she lived honestly and honourably, with her husband, during the term of her marriage state. She was a good and Godly woman.
Luke 2:37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. (KJV)
And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years . . . this seems to be the time of her being a widow, not her age.
Which departed not from the temple . . . meaning that she was constantly in her devotion to God there.
She coming in that instant . . . she was always there when there was any worship performed, in which women might be concerned, and which is pointed out in the next clause,
But served God with fastings and prayers, night and day . . . she attended the usual fasts of twice a week, and to such as were enjoined the whole congregation, and to the several set times of prayer, and to every act of devotion, private or public, by night or day.
Return To Nazareth (Luke 2:39-40)
Luke 2:38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (KJV)
And she coming in that instant . . . that the parents of Christ brought Him into the Temple; just as Simeon was embracing Him in his arms, and blessing God for Him, and saying the things concerning Him, and who seems to come in at that juncture, as he did, under the impulse, and by the direction of the Spirit of God.
Gave thanks likewise unto the Lord . . . praised Him, as Simeon had done, that He had sent the Promised, and long looked for Messiah and Saviour; and that she had lived to see His blessed Face. She was directed to come in at this instant, and was favored with this rare mercy of seeing the new born Saviour, and His honored parents.
And spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem . . . of the nature and design of His mission; and the glory that would take place in the land. As Daniel's seventy weeks were believed to be now completed, the more pious Jews were in constant expectation of the promised Messiah. They were expecting redemption, in Jerusalem. It seems that this widow was one of the first publishers of the Gospel of Christ, and it is likely that she traveled with it from house to house through the city of Jerusalem, where she knew they dwelt who were expecting the salvation of God.
The account of Matthew tells us that the next event in the life of Jesus was a trip to Egypt. Luke omits this account entirely. It is well to remember again the purpose for writing each Gospel is different. Matthew presents the Lord Jesus Christ as King, and Luke presents Him as the perfect Man. The coming of the wise men does not fit into Luke's purpose for writing. The wise men came looking for a king, not for the ideal of the Greek race. Luke presents Him as the perfect Man, and see how he carries out his purpose even at this point.
Luke 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. (KJV)
And when they had performed all things . . . concerning the purification of Mary, and the presentation and redemption of her Firstborn, and the sacrifices and ceremonies belonging to them.
According to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee . . . but not immediately: for the coming of the wise men, and the retreat of Joseph with his family into Egypt, happened between this period of time, and His going to Nazareth in Galilee. It is very likely, that as soon as the presentation in the Temple, and the ceremonies relative to it, had been accomplished, that the family did return to Galilee, as Luke here states, and that they continued there until Herod's bloody purpose was revealed to them by the Lord; which probably took some time to bring it to its murderous crisis, after the departure of the wise men (Mat.2:1,7). After which, they fled into Egypt, where they continued until the death of Herod; and it is probable that it is of a second return to Nazareth that Matthew speaks of.
To their own city Nazareth . . . Bethlehem was their native city, the place of their birth, at least of their family; and Nazareth was the city where they lived.
Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (KJV)
And the child grew. . . in body, strength and stature; which tells us that it was a real body Christ assumed, like ours, which did not come to its maturity all at once, but by stages.
And waxed strong in spirit . . . His soul; for as He had a true body, He had also a soul.
Filled with wisdom . . . and knowledge as Man; for this is to be understood, not of His essential wisdom as God, nor of those treasures of wisdom and knowledge, which were hid in Him as Mediator, to be dispensed to His church; but of His natural wisdom, as Man; in which He increased gradually.
And the grace of God was upon him . . . not the fulness of grace that was in Him, as Mediator, for the supply of His people: but that internal grace which was bestowed on His human nature, even the various graces of the Spirit of God, and which flowed from the grace of union of the two natures in Him.
Visit Of Joseph, Mary, And Jesus To Jerusalem When Jesus Was Twelve (Luke 2:41-52)
Luke 2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. (KJV)
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year . . . Joseph went three times a year, as did all the males in Israel, at the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut.16:16). The first of these is expressed here, at the feast of the Passover. The women were not required to go up, "the Passover of women is voluntary", they could go up to the feast or not, as they pleased. So this was a voluntary thing with Mary; which reveals her piety and religion, and her great regard to the ordinances and appointments of God.
Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. (KJV)
And when he was twelve years old . . . all males among the Hebrews were required to appear three times a year before God, to attend on the ordinances of religion in the Temple, and it is probable that this was the age at which they first went up to Jerusalem (Ex.23:14-17; Deut.16:16).
They went up to Jerusalem, after the custom of the feast . . . of the Passover, it shows their religious regard to Him; and may be an instruction to parents, to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, after their example. To Jerusalem, where the feasts of the Jews were all held. This was a journey from Nazareth of about 70 miles.
Luke 2:43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. (KJV)
And when they had fulfilled the days . . . the seven days of the unleavened bread, for so many days that feast was observed; and though it was not absolutely necessary, and obligatory upon them to stay all that time at Jerusalem, yet Mary and Joseph seem to have done so, as did the more religious and devout persons.
As they returned . . . at the time when they were going from Jerusalem home again:
The child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem . . . He wanted to hear the discourses of the doctors about the sense of the Scriptures, the meaning of the laws, and the traditions of the elders, and of speaking with them.
And Joseph, and his mother, knew not of it . . . of His intention to tarry longer, nor of His plan in so doing. He did not ask leave of them, since His stay was about an affair of His heavenly Father's. They had no idea of His staying behind them, nor did they miss Him for a quite a while, which most likely because of the large number that went in company together. He could have easily been any place in the crowd, so that Joseph might think he was with Mary, and Mary might conclude He was with Joseph, until they came to the end of their first day's journey, when they came together, and then missed Him.
Luke 2:44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. (KJV)
But they supposing him to have been in the company . . . that travelled together into the same parts, having been, as they, at Jerusalem to keep the feast.
Went a day's journey . . . before they missed Him; or if they missed Him sooner, they went on inquiring for Him in the company, until the end of the day.
And they sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance . . . when they came to the end of their day's journey, where they took up their lodging for that night.
Luke 2:45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And when they found him not . . . in the company that came from Jerusalem with them, nor among any of their relations and friends, with whom they supposed He was:
They turned back again to Jerusalem . . . that is, the next morning, for it can hardly be thought they would set out that night, after they had travelled all day, without taking some rest.
Seeking him . . . at Jerusalem, in the streets and broad places of it; a figure of the church and ordinances, where souls look for, and inquire after their beloved, when they have lost him.
Luke 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. (KJV)
And it came to pass, that after three days . . . from their first setting out from Jerusalem, when Jesus tarried behind; or on the third day, which may be reckoned as this: the first day was spent in traveling, and the second in coming back the same journey, and the third day they sought all Jerusalem for him, when
They found him in the temple . . . in the court of the Temple, for Jesus, not being a Levitical priest, could not enter into the Temple itself. His Father's House, the House of God, a figure of a Gospel church, where the word and ordinances are duly administered, and where Christ is to be found. What part of the Temple Christ was in, is not easy to say; it was NOT in the holy of holies, for NO one but the high priest went into that, and that only on the day of atonement; nor in the court of the priests, for He was not among them, nor in the court of the Israelites, where the common people worshipped: it seems most likely, that He was in the room Gazith, where the grand Sanhedrim sat; for here was the largest number of doctors; and it was the very amazing to His parents, to find Him here; unless that He was in the synagogue in the temple.
Sitting in the midst of the doctors . . . the teachers, the Rabbis, who were the instructors of the people in matters of religion. The Sanhedrim sat in a semicircular form, so that they could see one another, and the prince, and the father of the court, could see them all; and before them sat three rows of the disciples of the wise men, or scholars; and in each row there were three and twenty men: the first row was next to the Sanhedrim, and the second row below that, and the third row below that; and in every row they sat according to their superiority in wisdom on a seat, in one of these rows, I think, Christ sat among the scholars; and this may be called sitting among the doctors, because these seats were just before them, and were in a semicircular form; at least He might be here at first; when upon the questions He put, and the answers He made, He was especially noticed of by the doctors, who might call Him up, and place Him between them; for this, in some cases, was done to scholars.
Both hearing them, and asking them questions . . . proposing questions to them respecting the law and the prophets. There is no reason to suppose that this was for the purpose of perplexing or confounding them. The questions were no doubt asked in a respectful manner, and the answers listened to very carefully. Jesus was a child, and religion does NOT teach a child to be rude or uncivil, even though He may really know much more than more aged persons. Religion teaches all, and especially the young, to treat others with respect, to show them the honor that is due, and to speak kindly to all (Ex.20:12; Mat.23:3; Rom. 13:7, 1 Pet.2:17; 3:8-9).
Luke 2:47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. (KJV)
And all that heard him were astonished . . . all in the Sanhedrim, both the doctors and their disciples, were amazed,
At his understanding . . . in the knowledge of the law, and of the Scriptures:
And his answers . . . which He returned to the questions the doctor's asked Him, which were made with so much wisdom and judgment, that it was surprising in one of His years.
Luke 2:48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (KJV)
And when they saw him they were amazed . . . when Joseph and Mary saw Him amidst the doctors, they were astonished that He was admitted among them, and was held in such high regard by them.
And his mother said unto him . . . she being His real and only parent, and not Joseph; and therefore he said nothing, but left the chastisement up to her; who as soon as she had a proper opportunity after He had left the doctors, began to rebuke Him for the situation.
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?. . . which was said with great tenderness and affection.
Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing . . . with great grief and anxiety, fearing some evil had befallen Him. Mary calls Joseph His father, although she knew he was not, in a proper sense; but because Joseph was chosen to be Jesus' earthly father.
Luke 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (KJV)
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? . . . why did they worry so much? Why was there so much uneasiness and distress of their minds? Why didn't they trust in the power and providence of God, to take care of Him?
Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? . . .You knew the plan of my coming into the world. Jesus reminded them here that He came down from Heaven; and that He had a higher Father than an earthly parent; and that even in early life, it was right that He should be engaged in the work for which He came. He did not enter, upon His public work for eighteen years after this; yet still the work of God was His work, and always, even in childhood, it was proper for Him to be engaged in the great business for which He came down from Heaven. The Lord's conversing with the doctors, and which was a branch of His prophetic office, and was, no doubt, with a view to the good of the souls of men, and nothing less than miraculous, was a show, a prelude of, and it seems that this was a sort of an entrance upon the business which He came about.
Luke 2:50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. (KJV)
And they understood not the saying . . . they did not know what He meant by His Father's house, or his Father's business, and the need for Him being there and about what He was supposed to do.
Which he spake unto them . . . at that time, when they found Him.
Luke 2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. (KJV)
And he went down with them . . . from the Temple in Jerusalem which was on high ground,
And came to Nazareth . . . where He and His parents, had lived ever since their return from Egypt (Mat.2:19).
And was subject unto them . . . the Child Jesus, performed the duty of a faithful and obedient child, and very likely, worked in the trade of Joseph, that of a carpenter. Every Jew was required to learn some trade, and there is every reason to think that our Saviour followed that of His earthly father. Jesus, as Man, and willing to set an example of willing subjection to parents, went along with them, and showed all respect unto them, cheerfully obeying their commands, living with them, and working under them, and for them: and so He continued until He was about thirty years old. From this we learn,
- #1. That obedience to parents is a duty. Jesus has set an example in this that all children should follow. Even though He was the Son of God, and on proper occasions was engaged in the great work of redemption, yet He was also the son of Mary, and He loved and obeyed His mother, and was subject to her.
- #2. It is NO dishonor to be a carpenter, a mechanic, a farmer or any honest job. Jesus has conferred honor on any upright work, and no man should be ashamed of hard working parents even if they are poor. The only thing to be ashamed of, in regard to this matter, is when men are idle, or when children are too proud to hear or speak of the occupation of their parents, or they are too proud to follow the same occupation.
But his mother kept all these sayings . . . this relates not only to the words of Christ, but to the whole history of His staying behind them at Jerusalem, of His sitting among the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions, to the astonishment of all. These things she treasured and preserved,
In her heart. . . in her memory.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (KJV)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man . . . this means Jesus as MAN, because neither His divine wisdom, nor the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him, as Mediator, could ever increase. But, as He grew in body, the faculties of His soul opened, and received gradually large measures of wisdom and knowledge, in things natural and spiritual, through the in dwelling of His divine nature in Him, and the Holy Spirit that was, without measure, on him (Jn.3:34).
After the event of Jesus as a 12 year old in the Temple with the doctors, the Bible does not record any events of the next 18 years of Jesus' life, but Jesus most certainly was learning and maturing. As the oldest in a large family, He no doubt assisted Joseph in his carpentry work. Joseph may have died during this time, leaving Jesus to provide for the family. The normal routines of daily life gave Jesus a solid understanding of the Judean people.
The second chapter of Luke shows us that although Jesus was unique, he did have a normal childhood and adolescence. In terms of development, he went through the same process that we do. He grew physically and mentally, He related to other people, and He was loved by God. A full human life is balanced, so it was important to Jesus, and it should be important to all believers, to develop fully and harmoniously in each of these key growth areas: physical, mental, social and spiritual.
Gospel of Luke
ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . ch.7 . . ch.8 . . ch.9 . . ch.10 . . ch.11 . . ch.12 . . ch.13 . . ch.14 . . ch.15 . . ch.16 . . ch.17 . . ch.18 . .ch.19. . ch.20 . .ch.21 . . ch.22 . . ch.23 . . ch.24