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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 2

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-20

8. Shepherds visit the stable (Luke 2:1-20)

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth in the north of Palestine (see Luke 1:26-27), but the town to which they belonged according to their ancestry was Bethlehem, the birthplace of their forefather David. When the government issued an order that all people were to return to their ancestral town for a census (probably for taxation purposes), Joseph and Mary made the journey to Bethlehem. The town was so overcrowded with travellers returning for the census that they could find nowhere to stay except in a stable with animals. There Mary gave birth to Jesus (Luke 2:1-7).

The first people to be told the news that Israel’s Messiah had been born were a group of shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. God’s gift of such a Saviour was evidence of his good pleasure towards humankind and his desire that people everywhere be brought into a relationship of peace with him (Luke 2:8-14). The shepherds hurried to visit the new-born child, then spread the news of their wonderful discovery (Luke 2:15-20).

Verses 21-24

9. Temple ceremonies in Jerusalem (Luke 2:21-24)

After Jesus was born, his parents were required to carry out three ceremonies according to the law of Moses. The first of these was circumcision (Luke 2:21; see note on Luke 1:59).

For the second ceremony Mary and Joseph made the ten kilometre journey to Jerusalem, where they went to the temple to present their firstborn to God. Ever since God saved Israel’s firstborn at the time of the original Passover, the firstborn of all Israel’s people and cattle belonged to him. At the age of one month the firstborn was taken to the temple, presented to God, then bought back by a payment of five shekels (see Exodus 13:2; Numbers 18:15-16).

The third ceremony was the ritual purification of the mother after childbirth. In the case of a male child this took place forty days after the birth, when the mother presented a lamb for a burnt offering and a bird for a sin offering. If she was too poor to afford a lamb she could offer another bird instead (see Leviticus 12:1-8).

Jesus’ parents carried out these two ceremonies on the same visit to Jerusalem. Their poverty is indicated by their choice of the sacrifice available for those too poor to afford the normal sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24).

Verses 25-38

10. Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38)

In separate incidents, two people at the temple recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah. The first was a man named Simeon. Unlike most Jews, Simeon had the spiritual insight to understand the sort of person the Messiah would be. He acknowledged that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that he would bring glory to Israel and salvation to the Gentiles (Luke 2:25-32).

Having praised God for the coming of Jesus, Simeon turned to address Mary. He saw that one day Jesus would create a division among the Jewish people. Many would reject him and so fall under God’s punishment, but others would receive him and so rise to salvation. People’s opposition to Jesus would show up the sinfulness of their hearts, and at the same time bring pain and sorrow to the heart of his mother (Luke 2:33-35).

The other faithful Jew who saw Jesus and his parents in the temple was an elderly woman named Anna. In some ways her life had been lonely, but she had never grown bitter. She sacrificed time and personal comforts so that she could devote herself to worship and prayer. Throughout her long life she never stopped believing that salvation would come through the promised Messiah. On seeing Jesus she knew that this was the one for whom she had waited (Luke 2:36-38).

Verses 39-40

12. Return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39-40)

Upon hearing of Herod’s death, Joseph and Mary returned with the infant Jesus to Palestine (Matthew 2:19-21). Since the new king Archelaus was as unjust and cruel as his father Herod, they considered it unsafe to stay in Judea, so went north to their home town of Nazareth. As the years of Jesus’ childhood passed, he developed in body, mind and spirit (Matthew 2:22-23; Luke 2:39-40).

Verses 41-52

13. Jesus twelve years old (Luke 2:41-52)

Joseph and Mary, being sincere and faithful Jews, went to Jerusalem for the Passover each year. Jesus, who accompanied them on the occasion recorded here, was twelve years old at the time. At this age Jewish boys were being prepared for entrance into the adult affairs of the synagogue (Luke 2:41-42).

In the Jewish form of instruction, teacher and student often took turns at asking and answering questions, many of which were concerned with details of the law. The teachers in Jerusalem noted that Jesus was different from other students, both in the questions he asked and the answers he gave. His concern was not with trivial details of the traditional teaching, but with a real understanding of the mind and ways of God (Luke 2:43-47). He reminded his parents of his unique relationship with his heavenly Father and of the need for him to know and do his Father’s will. They did not fully understand what he meant, but Mary kept thinking about it. Jesus, on his part, realized that he still had to be obedient to his earthly parents (Luke 2:48-52).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/luke-2.html. 2005.
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