About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

This Section - Chapter 2:21 - 52

Previous Section - Chapter 1:39-80

Next Section - Chapter 3

ch. 2:21-40   ch. 4:41-52

Jesus Presented In The Temple (ch. 2:21 - 40)

Luke tells us that on the eighth day Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple to be circumcised and to name Him. This is clearly in line with O. T. Mosaic Law. Jesus was born under the Law, lived by the Law, and obeyed the Law as no one else did. The relationship between Jesus and the Law is a very important relationship in Scripture. Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. In living the perfect life according to the Law of Moses, He fulfilled the divine obligation of the Law. In this respect He fulfilled the Law. Then when He gave His life as a once and for all sacrifice, He instituted a New Covenant, thus the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses was completely fulfilled and took on a new meaning. It was no longer something to live up to, but served as a way to convict the Jews of their sin. Paul called the Law a teacher. The teacher would show people their sin. Once seeing their sin, theyíd come to Jesus. No longer did the Law have anything to do with finding acceptance with God. Yet before all this could happen, Jesus had to live according to the Law, and the first thing that needed to be done was to be circumcised.

Luke proceeds to mention that after the days of purification, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. The circumcision would have been performed in Nazareth. This event took place in Jerusalem.

According to Lev.12, a woman who gave birth to a son was unclean for 7 days, or until the son was circumcised. Then after this she could not touch any holy object or enter a holy sanctuary for another 33 days. Then after 40 days she had to go to the Temple for a cleansing ceremony.

Also, at this time, if the baby was a first born son, he had to be presented to the Lord. The presentation was in fact giving the baby boy to the Lord to be a priest. But since priests could only be from the line, or house of Levi, then that parents had to buy back the son from the Lord by paying money. This ceremony was a memorial to when Israel fled Egypt and all first born sons were killed except for Jewish sons where there was blood on the door post.

Part of the ceremony of present first born sons to the Lord was also to sacrifice doves. This Mary and Joseph had done as well.

In verse 25 Luke introduces a man named Simeon. Simeom was a holy and righteous man "who was waiting for the consolidation of Israel". This is in reference to what the Messiah would do when He returned to restore Israel.

Simeon appears to be an ordinary man. The Holy Spirit came on him resulting in the understanding that he would not die until "he saw the Lordís Christ", or the Messiah. Moved by the Spirit he went to the courts of the temple where he saw Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

Simeon was led by the Spirit to the court of the Temple, so the Holy Spirit must have then led him to Joseph and Mary where he then took Jesus and placed Him in his arms. Simeon proceeds to give glory to the Lord, which I feel is prophetic since the Holy Spirit led him to this place for the specific reason of seeing Jesus, the Christ.

Simeon proceeds to speak, "Sovereign Lord as you have promised, now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation for Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel".

God had promised Simeon that he would get to see the Messiah, and as he held Jesus in his arms, he realized that this was the Messiah. The promise had been fulfilled, therefore Simoen told the Lord that He could take him.

Note that Simeon uses the term "Sovereign Lord". By using the word "sovereign" Simeon is emphasizing that God is the ultimate authority over all there is. There is no one above Him. He is supreme, and Simeon is His servant.

This must have been one very precious moment for Simeon. He says that his eyes have finally seen Godís salvation. We often think of salvation as being something that God gives us, but in this instance salvation is Jesus Himself. And really, that is the way it should be seen. God does give us salvation, but the bottom line is that He gives us Jesus, and by having Jesus, we have salvation. Once again, that is what "for unto us a Son is givenÖ" means.

Simeon understood salvation better than most, better than Peter did a few years later. He spoke of Jesus being a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. He understood that salvation was for all man, not just the Jews. Jesus was and is the crowning glory of Israel since He is from Jewish ancestry. The sad point is that many Jews could not see this. And for the Gentiles, Jesus was the light that would shine on the path that would lead to God Almighty.

Luke says that Mary and Joseph marveled at Simeonís words. I can only guess that these words were kept close to Maryís heart to ponder on, along with all of the other things that were already in her heart.

Simeonís prophecy adds something more to the things Mary and Joseph knew about their Son. Simeon speaks about the Gentiles being effected by Jesus. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought about this.

Luke tells us that Simeon "blessed them". Just what this blessing was, most likely in words, we donít know. But after Simeon blesses both parents he then turns to Mary alone and speaks to her. He says," this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too".

We note that these words were directed towards Mary, and not Joseph. Many feel that Joseph was not alive when these words saw their fulfillment. These words were both prophetic and instructive. They were prophetic in the sense that they foretold the future, yet instructive to Mary so sheíd have a better understanding of what her Son was all about.

Simeon told Mary that many in Israel would fall and rise because of Jesus. Not all Israel would receive their Messiah. As a matter of fact, many Jews would come against Jesus.

So far most of what Mary has heard prophetically about her Son were good and glorious things. Now she is hearing some troubling things. Many of her fellow Jews would speak against her Son. Many would fall. These people would fall from Godís grace because they reject their Messiah, while many others would rise to new spiritual heights because of their acceptance of Jesus.

Simeon says that "the thoughts of many will be revealed".

Luke just mentioned that many will speak out negatively against Jesus. Therefore the thoughts that are revealed are those negative thoughts are directed towards Jesus.

Simeon makes one last statement to Mary. He says, "a sword will pierce your own soul too". It is interesting to note that these words were spoken to Mary. As stated earlier, Joseph may not have been living when the fulfillment of these words took place.

What must Mary have thought inside her heart when she heard these words? All along she has been told of good things happening because of her new born baby. He would bring many Jews back to their God. Heíd be a light to the Gentile world, but now, because of Him a sword would pierce her heart. What could this possibly mean to Mary as she heard these words She most likely would try to guess the meaning to these words as she pondered them in her heart.

Yet when the time came, and she stood at the foot of the cross to see her first born Son being executed as a criminal, her heart must have been tremendously saddened and hurt. It would be like a sword piercing her soul.

In verse 36 a lady named Anna is introduced into Lukeís narrative. This lady may have been well known. Luke gives some detail about her that might cause some to recognize her. She was a prophetess who could often be found at the Temple. Her father was Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was married to her husband for 7 years, and then he died. She apparently did not remarry. It is unclear from the Greek text whether she was 84 years of age, or she lived 84 years after her husband died. Since the average age of a girl getting married in Jewish homes in those days was 15, she was either 84 years old, or around 99 years of age.

What this lady told Mary and Joseph is unknown, but we do know that she recognized the baby Jesus to be the Messiah. Luke says that she spoke to everyone who was looking forward "to the redemption of Israel" about Jesus.

Verse 39 says that when Mary and Joseph did everything that the Law required concerning their new born Son, they returned to Nazareth. What a trip this must have been. Mary had many words to ponder in her heart as Jesus grew up. Some of these words would bring joy, some were a mystery, while others were very disturbing to her.

We know little about Jesusí childhood. Luke ends this section by saying, "the child grew and became strong, he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him". The reference to strength I believe concerns his physical stature as He grew up.

Beyond the natural process of growing as a child Luke says that He was full of wisdom. Luke is telling us that Jesus, even at a young age had wisdom beyond his years. This would be seen when He visited the Temple at the age of 12. I am sure that this wisdom was seen by many on a daily bases. Jesus had to have been one very special child, and one very special young adult.

Luke also says that "the grace of God was upon Him". Godís grace was evidenced in Jesus by the wisdom He demonstrated. It was probably evidenced in other ways as well, but what those ways were is not mentioned by Luke. Most likely God kept Jesus safe from harmful childhood difficulties that might have afflicted the average child in those days. These might have ranged from sickness, disease, and accidents. This is only speculation since the text does not say this.

The Boy Jesus At The Temple (ch. 2:41 - 52)

In verse 41 Luke tells Theophilus that "every year" Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. According to the Law of Moses (Ex. 23:14-17, and 34:23, Duet. 16:16) every man had to go to the Temple every year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Women were not required to go. Over the years as the Jews got dispersed throughout the nations, this was very difficult to do. Yet Nazareth was relatively a short distance from Jerusalem. So Mary and Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem at least for Passover.

In the next verse Luke points out that when Jesus was 12 years old they went up to the Temple. This is a notable age, and that is most likely why Luke tells the story. When a Jewish boy reached 12 years old, he was considered "a son of the Law", meaning, he had to learn and obey the Law. He was considered adult enough to be responsible to the Law.

In the same verse, Luke says that "they went up to the feast". In geographical terms Jerusalem was in fact down, not up. Jerusalem is south of Nazareth. When going to Jerusalem from anywhere, people in those days always called the trip "up", because Jerusalem was situated on hills, therefore it was a higher elevation than its surroundings.

The full feast of Passover lasts 7 days. Once Passover was over there would have been a mass exodus from Jerusalem. It is apparent that Mary and Joseph traveled with many other people on their trip to and from Jerusalem. So as they started off they werenít concerned that Jesus was not in their physical presence. They probably thought that He was with friends and relatives somewhere in the procession of people.

Verse 45 tells us that they had traveled a whole day before they began to look for Jesus, probably at night when they expected Him to be with them. When Jesus did not come to them, and when they could not find Him, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to look for Him.

Three whole days had passed when they finally found Jesus in the court of the temple listening to, and asking questions of the teachers of the Law. We must remember that Jesus is full of wisdom, as Luke as already told us. He is much wiser than His age would suggest. Was He asking questions to find answers to things He did not know, or was He asking question to see what the rabbiís were thinking. I think Jesus knew the answers to the questions. He just wanted to know how these teachers thought about certain issues and create a dialogue with them. I could be wrong. It is possible that this was another learning experience for Jesus and this is why He was asking the questions. A third possibility could be a combination of both of these ideas.

Whatever the case, verse 47 tells us that everyone who heard Jesus "was amazed at His understanding and answers". So in the least, Jesus knew what He was talking about, especially for a 12 year old boy.

Luke tells us that when Mary and Joseph found Jesus, they were "astonished". One might well have expected a 12 year old boy to be playing with new found friends somewhere, but not Jesus. He was in serious discussion with the religious leaders of Israel.

Yet even in their astonishment, they were very anxious and scared. As any mother would ask a missing son, Mary asks Jesus, "why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you".

The question Mary asks is interesting. "Why have you treated us like this", she asks. If Jesus was full of wisdom and grace while growing up, I would guess that He was very respectful to his parents, never causing them to worry. This did not seem to be in Jesusí nature, just to disappear without saying any thing to His parents. You can understand any parent asking this question of their son, but in Jesusí case you can really understand the question. Mary must have thought, "this is not like Jesus, to go missing and not tell us where He is". She had a hard time understanding why Jesus did this.

How Jesus answers her question is just as interesting. Most of us who ask a question like a straight answer back. Yet Jesus answers Maryís question with a question of His own. Jesus could have simply told her why He was missing, but by asking the question, He is making her think about His answer. By asking the question, she is expected to come up with an answer. She has to give thought to her own question. In fact Jesus was trying to teach something to Mary by His answer.

In verse 49 Jesus asks, "why were you searching for me"? I am sure that Jesus knew why his parents were searching for Him. That was quite obvious. Mary must have thought that this was an illogical question. She must have thought, "why do you think we were searching for you. We are your parents. Parent do such things".

Jesusí question is based on an element of surprise that Mary did not understand what was happening. Mary was surprised that Jesus didnít understand the seriousness of the situation, and Jesus was surprised that Mary didnít understand why He stayed back. Wasnít she pondering such things for the last 12 years? Pondering and understanding are 2 different things.

Jesus never expected Mary to reply. He did not give her time to do so. He continues on by asking another question, "didnít you know that I had to be in my Fatherís house"? Jesus was saying something of major importance in this question, and probably puzzling to the ears of Joseph. What did Jesus mean by saying this is His Fatherís house? Joseph was His father.

Luke points out that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was talking about. What Jesus was in fact saying is that He had another Father. The Temple was Godís house, and God was His Father. You think that Mary would have caught on to these things. Did the memory of the prophecies in the last chapter fade over the last 12 years. Probably not. It would simply be hard to understand that your son could possibly be someone elseís son as well, especially when that someone else was God.

Verse 51 tells us that Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents and was "obedient" to them. Luke makes clear to us that even though Jesus had another Father to obey, He was still obedient to His earthly parents.

"But His mother treasured all these things in her heart", says Luke. Just another thing to treasure, another thought and experience to ponder. We see Mary thinking of these things. Luke does not tell us that Joseph was as much involved in pondering all of these things. Maybe he was, maybe he wasnít. We know Mary thought much about all of these events.

Luke closes this chapter with a one sentence statement about Jesusí childhood. The statement is similar to that of verse 40, concerning John the Baptist. Luke says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man". Growing in stature refers to Jesus physical growth. He also grew in wisdom. Wisdom did not suddenly come to Jesus. This growing in wisdom must have led to many daily surprises for Mary. She must have thought over and over again, "boy, where does He come up with these things". Of course upon second thought, sheíd know.

Jesus was favoured with God and with man as well. It is clear that God His father was happy with Jesus as He was growing up. We have spoke much about how Mary and Joseph felt concerning Jesusí youth, but what about God. He must have had some feelings on these things as well. How did God feel when He saw Jesus sitting with the leaders of Israel, asking of them, and even attempting to teach them some things. If God can smile, and I believe He does, then He smiled on this occasion when Jesus was in the Temple court talking to the religious leaders of the day.

Mary and Joseph were not the only ones to view Jesus in a special way. He grew in favour with man as well. Luke is saying that others could see the wisdom that came from Jesus too. They were amazed, and they had great respect for Him.

Next Section - Chapter 3

Previous Section - Chapter 1:39-80

Home Page