The Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 2:39-52 ~ The Advent of Jesus Christ, Pt. 8. Jesus at the Temple at Age 12 Speaks of His Ministry & Resurrection

Vol. 18, No. 14 – April 7, 2019

4 7 19 - Luke 2 vs. 38 - 52 - The Advent of Jesus Christ, Pt. 8. Jesus at the Temple at Age 12 Speaks of His Ministry and Resurrection.The Gospel of Luke
Chapter 2

II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.

F.The Advancement of the Boy, including the Temple incident at age 12, vs. 39-52.

Vs. 39

Luke 2:39, “When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.”

Luke’s Gospel takes the baby Jesus directly from Bethlehem back to Nazareth. Yet, we know from Matthew’s Gospel that they were side tracked before returning to Nazareth, Mat 2:13-23. Vs. 15 is a quote from Hosea 11:1, and vs. 17 from Jer 31:15. Vs. 23, “called a Nazarene,” probably means “called contemptible or despised,” given Nazareth’s reputation, as we noted in Luke 1:26-27, cf. Isa 53:3; Psa 22:6; with Mark 1:24; John 18:5, 7; 19:19.

Isa 53:3, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

Psalm 22:6, “But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.”

John 19:19, “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews’.”

Also, as we noted, Nazareth comes from the Hebrew Noun NETSER that means “a shoot or branch,” which too is part of the fulfillment of prophecy, Isa 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

Vs. 40
Luke 2:40, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

Just as Luke noted regarding John the Baptist in Luke 1:80, he notes that Jesus grew and became strong, cf. Luke 2:52. It means He grew in the knowledge of the Word and with power of the Holy Spirit sustaining Him. Some later manuscripts added PNEUMA here for the Holy Spirit, but it is not in the more reliable texts. “The grace (CHARIS) of God was upon Him,” means that God was watching over Him and His family as noted in Matthew’s narrative with the multiple warnings Joseph received from God.

Luke, nor the other Gospel writers, provide us much information on the childhood of Jesus, as do some fanciful Apocryphal books like the Gospel of Thomas. Luke’s innocuous childhood fits the narrative more appropriately, as Jesus was rejected by His hometown people, Luke 4:28-30, rather than amazing and terrifying them with miracles and wonders when He was a child, as the Gospel of Thomas claims.

Vs. 41-52, The Temple Incident.

This account foreshadows Jesus’ future greatness, as well as His future teaching mission and reveals an awareness of His unique relationship with God. It has many allusions to His victory over sin and death as the resurrection is an underlying theme seen in the Greek words used by Luke. Therefore, it forms a fitting transition to Jesus’ ministry in Luke 3:1ff.

Vs. 41

Luke 2:41, “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

Here, we see that Jesus grew up in a faithful religious family. This too was seen in the typology of Samuel, 1 Sam 1:3, 7, 21; 2:19. Just as Joseph and Mary did at His birth, they continued to live faithfully and righteously in the application of the Law throughout Jesus’ childhood.

Every year,” KATA ETOS, they would make the pilgrimage to the Temple in “Jerusalem” to celebrate the “Feast of Passover,” HEORTE, ἑορτή, PASCHA, πάσχα, as mandated in Ex 12:11; 23:15; Deut 16:1-6, 16.

God gave the people of Israel seven annual Feasts to celebrate: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Jesus fulfilled the first four spring Feasts during His First Advent with His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of His Holy Spirit. He will fulfill the last three Fall Feast with the Rapture of the Church, His Second Advent, and the establishment of His Millennial Reign.

See our website for more detail.

According to Deut 16:16, there were three Feast that the adult males where mandated to attend at the Temple,

Deut 16:16, “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (that included the feasts of Passover and First Fruits) and at the Feast of Weeks (i.e., Pentecost) and at the Feast of Booths, (i.e., Tabernacles) and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.”

They commemorated the freedom from Egypt, the giving of the Law, and a thanksgiving for God’s provisions during the 40 years they dwelt in tents while wandering in the wilderness, respectfully.

Passover took place at the full moon which occurred next after the vernal equinox. It was celebrated on the fifteenth day of Nisan. At this Feast, the first fruits of the harvest were offered, Lev 23:10-15. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed, lasted up to a full week and ended with the Feast of First Fruits, Deut 16:1-4; Ezek 45:21-25. Luke viewed them as one Feast, cf. Luke 22:1. Jesus’s family would have stayed in or around Jerusalem, perhaps in Bethlehem, during this time.

Vs. 42

Luke 2:42, “And when He became twelve (DODEKA), they went up there according to the custom of the Feast.”

Here, we see that Joseph brought his wife and child, Jesus. Whether this is His first visit to the temple or not is uncertain. Since His parents came every year, it is safe to assume Jesus came with them on other religious pilgrimages.

“During Bible times Jewish boys became “sons of the Law” (Hebrew, bar mitzvah) at age 12. They were then considered adult members of the Jewish community and were obligated to keep the Law. (Modern Jews perform a bar mitzvah for each boy when he turns 13.) So this feast in Jerusalem was probably the time of Jesus’ bar mitzvah. The Mishnah (Yoma 8:4) required the attendance of boys 1 or 2 years before this bar mitzvah so they might be prepared for their initiation as a full member of the synagogue.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)

Joseph, as a good father and as tradition would have, exposed his son to the things of God and the Law. Father’s today have the same responsibility; to teach their children about God and His Word. Sadly, fathers in our country today are failing miserably at this great responsibility.

Vs. 43

Luke 2:43, “And as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it.”

The KJV reads “And Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” This is from later manuscripts, but the more reliable ancient texts state, “His parents,” GONEUS.

Stayed behind” is a foreshadowing of His later days in Jerusalem including His crucifixion as this Verb HUPOMENO ὑπομένω means, “abide, wait, endure, undergo, be patient, suffer, or stay behind,” and is only used literally in this narrative and Acts 17:14. All other usages mean endure, “bear patiently or suffer,” as Jesus did upon His advent to the Cross.

Jesus taught that the Christian must “endure” to the end, Mat 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13. As such, we are encouraged to “endure” in difficult times and circumstances, 1 Cor 13:7; Heb 10:32; 12:7, etc. In addition, we are to endure “patiently,” Rom 12:12; 1 Peter 2:20. The thought of continued endurance entails suffering, 2 Tim 2:12. Therefore, while enduring and suffering, the Christian is admonished to be patient.

So, as His parents left to return to Nazareth, Jesus remained in Jerusalem at the temple, and His parents did not know that He stayed behind. As the following verse tells us, they traveled with family and friends and must have assumed Jesus was with one of them. Jesus being a good boy, one who they probably never had to discipline, they would not have expected Him to not return with them.

Vs. 44

Luke 2:44, “But supposed Him to be in the caravan (SUNODIA, only used here), and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.”

A day’s journey was about twenty to twenty-five miles. After traveling for one day, Joseph and Mary realized Jesus was missing and “began looking” for Him among their other “family members,” (SUNGENES) and “close companion,” (GNOSTOS) caravanners, who were traveling with them.

Began looking,” is only used here and vs. 45, and Acts 11:45. It is the emphatic use of the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAZETEO, ἀναζητέω that means, “seek, look for, inquire into, or search for.” The prefix Preposition ANA means, “in the midst of, up, or upwards,” and the root verb ZETEO means, “seek, look for, etc.” Combined, in the Imperfect, it means they were continually searching diligently and carefully for Him. From this word, we see the great concern His parents had for Him and His whereabouts. In Acts, it is used for Barnabus who was diligently looking for Saul / Paul.

Vs. 45

Luke 2:45, “When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.”

Now their frantic search for Jesus took them back to the big city. Their extreme concern for Him, led them to leave the safety of the caravan and journey back to Jerusalem. This was a beginning of Simeon’s prophecy over Mary, that her heart would be pierced with sword, vs. 35.

We too, are to look for Jesus in Jerusalem, the place of His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension for our salvation!

Vs. 46

Luke 2:46, “Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

Joseph’s and Mary’s travel back to Jerusalem would have taken at least one day, and then they searched for Him for two other whole days. Maybe they had to go back to Bethlehem too, if they were staying with relatives there during the feast, supposing he was there. But, we do not know that. Or, maybe they searched two whole days for Him in the big city. Could you imagine?

Interestingly, it took them three days to find Him! It foreshadows His three days and three nights in the grave before His resurrection, Mat 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7, 21; 24:46; Acts 10:40.

“They found Him in the temple,” most likely the outer courts as Rabbinic instruction usually occurred in the outer courts or rooms of the temple, and since both Mary and Joseph found Him, because women were not permitted in the inner areas.

Sitting,” is the Verb KATHEZOMAI, καθέζομαι that means, “to sit” and rest that also reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection in John 20:12, “And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.” This is a beautiful picture of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle.

Here, Jesus was sitting with the “teachers,” DIDASKALOS’, as He “listened,” AKOUO and “asked questions,” EPEROTAO. The temple was not just a center for sacrifice and prayer; it was also a place for teaching and exhortation. The rabbinical method of instruction was to state cases, or problems, bearing upon the interpretation or application of the Law, which cases or problems were to be solved by the pupils, e.g., Mat 22:15-46.

As such, we see Jesus’ humanity learning Bible Doctrine in humility. Jesus Christ, though God, deprived Himself His Divine attributes, Phil 2:5-11, to solve His human problems, including learning Bible Doctrine. Thus, He had to learn like you and I do, and had to depend on God’s spiritual instruction like we do. God the Holy Spirit assisted Him, as noted in vs. 40, as He does us, to learn the Word of God.

From the next verse, we can only imagine how in depth and challenging His questions were. His questioning was probably two-fold to lead them to understand the signs of the Messiah.

Later, during His ministry, Jesus would be considered a Rabbi by the followers of His ministry, John 1:38, 49; 3:2; cf. Mat 23:7-8, and He would teach at the temple, Luke 20:1, cf. Mat 26:55.

Vs. 47

Luke 2:47, “And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.”

Apparently, Jesus did more than just listen and ask questions, there must have been opportunity for Him to respond to questions in the rabbinical fashion. In listening to Jesus’s questioning and responses, the people and teachers were amazed.

Amazed” is the Imperfect, Middle, Indicative of the Verb EXISTEMI, ἐξίστημι that means here continually, “astound, amaze, or astonish.” In the Greek, it meant to move people from one way of thinking to another, change their mind or opinion of something to something new. It is predominately used for people’s reaction to the miracles Jesus performed, Mat 9:8; 12:23; Mark 2:12; Luke 8:56. Although no miracle was done here, this verb indicates that the teachers knew they were not just in the presence of a brilliant young student. They recognized the wisdom of God in the Boy. As such, Jesus moved/changed their thinking from the old legalistic thoughts to the truth of the Messiah.

The Gospel had already noted that the grace of God was upon Jesus, vs. 40. Therefore, since this amazement is frequently the result of an encounter with the supernatural, cf. Luke 8:56; 24:22; Acts 2:7, 12, Luke may have intended us to envision a supernatural display of wisdom.

This also reminds us of the resurrection narrative as it is used in Luke 24:22, for two men on the road to Emmaus that were amazed at the report of the women who viewed the empty tomb of Jesus.

The temple teachers and learners were amazed at Jesus’ “understanding,” SUNESIS and “answers,” APOKRISIS.

Understanding,” is the Noun SUNESIS, σύνεσις that means, “understanding, knowledge, compre-hendsion, insight, or intelligence,” Mark 12:33; 1 Cor 1:19; Eph 3:4; Col 1:9; 2:2; 2 Tim 2:7.

It speaks to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him, Isa 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”

And, it describes how Jesus loved the Father, as we should too, Mark 12:33, “And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Answers,” is the Noun APOKRISIS, ἀπόκρισις, that means, “an answer, a refutation, an official response to a request, or a rescript,” that has overtones of authority associated with it. It is used here and in Luke 20:26; John 1:22; 19:9.

Luke 20:26, “And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.”

John 19:9, “And he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.”

Vs. 48

Luke 2:48-51, “When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You’.”

To Mary and Joseph, Jesus was lost and now is found! Just as we were lost to sin, and now are found, cf. Mat 10:39; Luke 15:6, 9, 24, 32. This too, reminds us of the typology of Samuel, in 1 Sam 9:20, “As for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?”

Jesus’ parents finally find Him, and as you can imagine, were upset with Him for staying behind. They were “astonished” when they found Him, not at His teaching, but at the fact that they had finally found Him in the Temple and what He was doing there.

Astonished,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb EKPLESSO, ἐκπλήσσω that means, “be amazed, overwhelmed, strike with astonish-ment.” It is a synonym to EXISTEMI, “amazed,” from vs. 47. In Greek it meant, “a profound reaction associated with shock.”

This would be the trait of Jesus’s ministry, as this word is only used for people’s reaction to His teaching, in Mat, Mark, Luke. He kept on astonishing people.

Mark 6:2, “When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?’”

Even after His death, resurrection, and ascension, His teaching kept astonishing people, Acts. 13:12.

Acts 13:12, “Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.”

“Son, why have You treated us this way?” Mary does not call Him son, HUIOS, but “child,” TEKNON, in rebuke. And, like a typical Jewish mother, tries to throw a little guilt complex at Him, lol, as she was offended by His action of staying behind.

“Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” Notice Mary rightly calls Joseph, “your father,” PATER.

Anxiously” is the Verb ODUNAOMAI, ὀδυνάομαι that means, “cause pain, feel pain, or be tormented.” The word ODUNAO means, “to cause intense pain” in its active sense, or “to be anguished or tormented” in its passive sense. Here, it is in the Present, Passive Deponent, combining both. Once again, we see the beginning of Simeon’s prophecy of a “sword piercing her heart” coming true. This is a word used only by Luke, here, and in Luke 16:24-25; Acts 20:38.

In Luke 16:24-25, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man was physically, mentally, and spiritually “tormented” in the flames of hell. This is analogous to how His mother Mary felt when they had lost Him for three days; a piercing of her heart!

Vs. 49

Luke 2:49, “And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”

These are the first recorded words of Jesus. Addressing “them,” both Mary and Joseph, He confounded them in a different way. In His response, He did not use the world OIKOS for “house.” That is why it is in italics. He literally said, “in the of my Father,” meaning “in the things or affairs of my Father.” In other words, He had to be around the teaching and worshipping of His Heavenly Father. Jesus shows His self-understanding of His calling, even as a young boy. His priority will be ministering in the manner God has called Him to do. Engaging in teaching about God will be central to this calling, as the entire context of this scene shows.

In addressing them both, including His earthly father Joseph, and saying, “Father,” it should have reminded them of who He truly was; The Son of God! Luke 1:32, 35, etc.

“Jesus did not nonchalantly forsake His parents and their feelings; rather, He heard the call of His Heavenly Father and obeyed (see also Luke 14:26).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)

We also see that by the age of 12, Jesus had a Personal Sense of Destiny, knowing God’s Plan for His life and walking in it, although it would not begin publicly for another 18 years.

Vs. 50

Luke 2:50, “But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.”

Did not understand,” is the Greek negative OUK with the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb SUNIEMI συνίημι that means, “understand, comprehend, perceive.” It emphasizes the perception, or lack of perception, one has regarding something. So, Joseph and Mary “did not understand or comprehend” what Jesus was conveying to them at this time. In other words, they could not wrap their heads around what He was saying to them, probably because they were too upset with Him and at the same time relieved that they found Him. We know that they knew who He was and what His mission would be, but due to the circumstances, they could not comprehend His meaning at this time, which is understandable.

Luke 18:34, “But the disciples understood none of these things, (His prophecy of His death and resurrection 3 days later). and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.”

Let us not allow the details, cares, and worries of life to so occupy our minds that we do not comprehend the plain and vital messages from God and His Word.

This also may have been a foreshadowing of the overall nation of Israel, who did not comprehend their Savior, Messiah, Lord, and King when He came to them.

Vs. 51

Luke 2:51, “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

In humility, Jesus left with His parents and went back to Nazareth, and “continued in subjection,” HUPOTASSO, to them. He submitted to their authority, honored and respected them and their rules and regulations.

In continued fulfillment of the Law, Jesus honored His father and mother applying the Fifth Commandment, Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Eph 6:1-2.

This is the last time we have a mention of Joseph in the timeline of the Bible. Mary, once again is said to have “treasured” or better “retained,” (DIATEREO, “guard, keep, preserve”), “all these things,” (RHEMA, “spoken words or a matter”), in her “heart,” (KARDIA, the right lobe of her soul).

Mary had stored and retained the sayings of the angels, shepherds, wise men, and prophets. She now added to these the sayings of the people at the temple and Christ Himself at the age of 12.

Vs. 52

Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

This parallels vs. 40, and Luke 1:80, regarding John the Baptist. It also parallels Samuel in 1 Sam 2:21, 26, in typology.

1 Sam 2:26, “Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.”

Increasing,” is the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb PROKOPTO, προκόπτω that means “making progress, advancing, go forward, proceed, increase, etc.” It was used by the sailors to describe making headway in spite of winds and by pioneers in cutting a path through a forest. It is used 6 times in the NT for “to advance or make progress;” three times positively and three times negatively, Rom 13:12; Gal 1:14; 2 Time 2:16; 3:9, 13.

Jesus’ advancement was in spiritual wisdom and maturity, as noted in the next words. As a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, the humanity of Christ resided inside the prototype spiritual life where He matured very quickly, both spiritually and physically.

Jesus increased in “wisdom,” SOPHIA, already mentioned in vs. 40. As truly a man, the Christ child experienced mental, spiritual, and physical development in keeping with His humanity. He grew and increased in wisdom. The wisdom of Jesus marked all of His teaching and ministry, and it created much astonishment among the people, Mat 13:54.

In addition, He increased in “stature” HELIKIA, ἡλικία, which can refer to either height or age. This does not mean that Jesus merely grew taller or matured into manhood. It emphasizes a mental, spiritual, and sociological maturity. Perhaps its use in Eph 4:13, says it best, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Of course, at the end of a short time elapse, our Lord was mature. By the time He was thirty-three and went to the Cross, He was way beyond the spiritual maturity of anyone who ever lived.

He also advanced in the “grace of God,” CHARIS HO THEOS. The word “grace,” in both Greek and Hebrew, has a variety of meanings. Here, it carries the meaning of God’s blessings in His life. It is not that God liked Him more and more each day, but that Jesus received and applied God’s grace more and more each day to learn, grow, and walk in God’s plan for His life. Note that Mary received a special CHARIS from God, Luke 1:30.

Likewise, Jesus gained the grace or favor with “men,” ANTHROPOS. Even though rejected by men, He was well respected by men, undoubtedly because of His stature: honesty, integrity, virtue, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, graciousness, etc.

In addition, note the priority. Favor or grace with God must precede favor or grace with mankind. Favor with mankind does not imply favor with God, which was the thinking of Adam and the woman in the Garden.

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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:

#19-034 & 19-035 & 19-036

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If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.

Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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