After the blessing by Simeon in the temple 40 days after the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:39 has Mary and Joseph returning to Nazareth. Verse 40 says that he grew and became strong, “filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”
Luke then “fast-forwards” to the age of 12. The text says that his parents went up to Jerusalem every year for the Feast of the Passover. Of course they did – Joseph and Mary would observe all of the required feasts. By the Law of Moses, all males were required to attend the feast (Exodus 23:14-17, Deuteronomy 16:1), and the whole family usually made the journey together. This year, when they left to return home, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. As a matter of expediency, to help each other, and for greater safety, people who had to go long distances for the feast would travel together in caravans with their extended families and friends. So they had gone a day’s journey (likely the end of the day) before they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
Not finding him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. After three days (likely meaning a day before missing him, a day to return, and a day of searching) they found him in the temple listening to the teachers and asking questions. The text says that all who heard him were amazed at his understanding. And when Mary told him how they had been searching for him, he said “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Verse 50 says that Mary and Joseph did not understand what he had said. We might wonder what difficulty they would have with the statement. Jesus at that age was fully aware of who He was (if not before this Passover, then certainly now that it had ended, that was so). But were Mary and Joseph really fully aware of who Jesus was yet? Certainly they knew that He was a gift from God, and the angel Gabriel had told Mary that He was to be the Son of God. But they had nevertheless been raising a child that in all physical aspects was thoroughly human. He had the same needs and dependencies as any other child, and he had required the same sort of nurturing as other children.
Any parent goes through moments of pride and moments of wistful sadness at watching their child grow up. Imagine the added complexity of raising the Son of God! As verse 51 says, Mary treasured all these things in her heart. Naturally, the text also says that he came with them to Nazareth and was submissive to them.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.