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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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