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After the various announcements that God has made by an angel as a pre-preparation for the sending of His Son, it’s going to happen: God is going to send “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3). He will bring His firstborn Son into the world (Hebrews 1:6). In those days of preparation God not only speaks through one of the most powerful angels of heaven, Gabriel, but He also works through the most powerful man on earth, “Caesar Augustus”. Gabriel loved doing what God told him to do. Caesar Augustus does not have the slightest idea that God is using him.
Caesar Augustus orders a decree that a census should be taken of all the inhabited earth over which he reigned. He does so with a view to paying taxes. The fact that this emperor has the power to do so makes the state of affairs both in Israel and in the world clear. Caesar Augustus reigns in Israel. It shows that supremacy lies in the hands of the nations, as announced by Daniel (Daniel 2:37; cf. Nehemiah 9:36), and it shows the absence of the throne of God on earth.
Yet, as has already been indicated, we see in an impressive way Who really rules. The heathen ruler Augustus does not take God into account in any way. He wants to exercise control over all people. He seeks His own honor and riches, not the honor of God. We see how God uses this proud plan of this heathen ruler to fulfill His own plan.
When it comes to the interests and glory of the Lord Jesus, the man Augustus with all his power and imperial glory is only an instrument in the hands of God to fulfill His counsels. That it really is true that God has His hand in this is shown by the fact that the census does not take place for the time being at all when God’s counsel concerning the birth of His Son is fulfilled. God turns the hearts of kings like channels of water (Proverbs 21:1), that they may do what suits Him. How great it is for us too to know that God is above everything and everything works according to the counsel of His will, to carry out His glorious plans which are to the blessing of His people.
No one opposes the emperor’s decree. They all travel to the city where they were born. Everyone must obey. This is the power of the emperor, who sits in distant Rome. It shows the complete humiliation and service of God’s people. Because of their sins they are slaves of the Gentiles with their bodies and goods (Nehemiah 9:36-Haggai :).
Now comes the true meaning of God with this census ordered by the emperor. The order also applies to the inhabitants of Judea. That is why Joseph also goes on a journey. He is but a servant of the emperor and must do what he says. This descendant of King David has as much to obey this command as any other Israelite. No exception is made for him. Yet his obedience to this command only fulfills God’s wonderful council. This is because the Savior-King will be born in the city where this event must take place according to the testimony of God.
Luke describes in detail where Joseph comes from, where he goes and why. To let this Joseph go there, God sets in motion all the inhabited earth that under the control of a heathen monarch. God could just as well have told Joseph to move to Bethlehem. But the circumstances in which God’s actions take place must impress us with God’s supreme authority which He uses for the good of His people. He works out His plan, without people and sometimes His own knowing how He does this. In retrospect, His own see how He has governed everything to their well-being.
Mary also has to go to Bethlehem. Joseph has not yet married her, but it has been established that they belong together. Mary is pregnant according to the word of the angel. In her she bears the Lord Jesus.
The Birth of the Lord Jesus
The Lord Jesus in the womb of Mary has gone through the development that every human being goes through. This process lasted nine months. Then the day arrives when the Savior can be born. The birth of Christ, His coming into the world, is an event of unprecedented significance for faith. God has become Man and thereby participates in His creation. The Creator visits His creation in a way that only God could think of and execute. The Son of God humbles Himself and becomes Man (Philippians 2:7-Ruth :).
How completely different is the Lord from, for example, a Theudas who was “claiming to be somebody” (Acts 5:36). Christ does not take the form of an angel and visits the people in that form, as He has done more often before. He also does not come as an adult Man, like Adam. He also does not come with an angelic host to bring down rulers from their thrones and take His rightful place there. No, He is born as a helpless Baby. Is there anything weaker than a newborn baby? Thus the Lord comes and participates as a child in all the weaknesses and situations of human life.
And where is He born? Not in a palace, but in a stable. As a result of the census, the inn is full. The rich have secured a place there, so that Christ is born in a stable. No one wishes to make way for the high-pregnant Mary who carries the Savior in her womb. Nobody pays attention to her and the Child in her womb. Everything speaks of poverty and ignorance. It is also a testimony that there is no place in the world for God, nor for what is of God. It makes the manifestation of the love that brings Him to earth all the more perfect.
The word “inn” used here means “guest room”, a simple room with space for the cattle in the middle. This word occurs once more. The Lord Jesus uses the same word ‘guest room’ when He indicates where He wants to eat the Passover with His disciples (Mark 14:14). There He calls it “My guest room”. There is no place for Him or for the faithful in the inn of this world. But there is an inn where believers are welcome, an upper room, where He invites His own to be with Him. That is His own inn.
Great Joy for the Shepherds
In Matthew 2, in connection with the birth of the Lord Jesus, we meet the great men of the world (Herod) and the religious men in high regard (scribes). However, there is total ignorance among them about the born Christ. They hear of it through wise men from the east, from far beyond the people of Israel. Luke shows us that the shepherds are the first to hear the news of the birth of Christ.
Shepherds were not highly regarded at that time. Especially the night watchmen were often illiterate people. But it is precisely to them that an angel appears to make known to them the tremendous gift of the birth of Christ. Shepherds are people who do work that the Lord Jesus also does. He is the good Shepherd. They are busy with the herd and watch over it. Thus is the Lord Jesus busy with His flock, His people.
For the third time in these first chapters an angel appears to people with the message about the coming of the Lord Jesus. Just like Zacharias, the shepherds are frightened. Angels always make a big impression. They are not sweet appearances. He appeared with Zacharias, he entered with Mary, here he stands with them. The angel is suddenly there.
Now there is something more present. There is also the glory of the Lord Himself which surrounds them. It is the glory of God in the cloud. God’s glory can come to people because the glory of God is present in the born Child. Therefore John, the evangelist, can say about the Lord Jesus Whom he and the other disciples saw when He was with them: “We saw his glory” (John 1:14). The glory of God has come to His people. In the dark night, the wonderful light of the presence of Yahweh shines. He appears to His people in glorious grace and not to consume them.
The angel reassures them. They need not be afraid, because he comes with a message of great joy. That joy is not only for them, but for all the people. It must have been a great joy also for the angel to proclaim this message. Happiness is also a characteristic of this Gospel. We heard about it twice in the beginning (Luke 1:14; Luke 1:47) and we will see it more often. Luke also ends with it (Luke 24:52). The coming of a God Who so gracefully comes to man, can only cause great joy. Not that all people share in it, but they can all get a share it. The offer goes to all, to all the people.
The cause of joy is that “today”, at this moment, “a Savior”, a Redeemer is born, not a judge or legislator. Nor is it a general announcement of the Savior’s birth, but the angel says He is born “for you”. This great event is for them personal. They may know that they are the objects of God’s grace, and every man may know that. In this Savior the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Titus 2:11), whether young or old, rich or poor, sick or healthy, strong or weak. For all He has made the Savior to be born.
The Savior is none other than “Christ”, which means “Anointed”, Who at the same time is the “Lord”, that is Yahweh, the God of the covenant. The angel also mentions the place of birth. However, he does not say “Bethlehem”, but “the city of David”. That means He is the promised Son of David, the born King. In all these names that the angel mentions, lies a fulness of glory of Him Who is born.
The angel gives them a sign by which they will know that he is speaking the truth. People who have expected a Messiah Who is a mighty warrior hero, beautifully dressed and sitting on a throne, will come out ashamed. So He will certainly come back again. That will be to their horror. He has also given a sign for this. That sign will come, namely when He appears for the second time, then in majesty (Matthew 24:30). The sign the angel gives here unfolds the spirit in which He now comes to His people and to people in general. The sign is that they will find the mighty Person, just described by the angel, in a Child Who is in the poorest conditions: wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Glory, Peace, Pleasure
When the angel speaks about his Creator and the wonder He has become Man and the circumstances in which this happens, a crowd of angels joins him. Heaven bursts open, as it were, because it cannot remain silent when it sees such a great glory. God is revealed in the flesh and is seen here by the few who now see their Creator for the first time (1 Timothy 3:16). They have a deep interest in this. They are like the cherubim on the ark who also, to symbolize that deep interest, look down with their faces towards the ark (Exodus 25:20).
All angels praise God. The angels are occupied with this event, on which the fate of the universe and the fulfillment of God’s counsels depends. For He has chosen the weak to shame the strong. By sending a crowd of angels to this despised, small group of night watchmen, God shows that He passes by all the high-ranking persons in Jerusalem.
With the coming of the Lord Jesus, three things become visible. First of all, it brings glory to God in the highest. God’s honor is set in the full light. In Christ’s coming, the love, wisdom, and power of God are revealed. It is the proof of a power that rises above sin and of a love that manifests itself in the midst of sin. It is God’s wisdom to fulfill His eternal counsel in this way. This is an exaltation of good over evil that can only be found in God and that glorifies Him. He overcomes evil, sin, through the good, the Lord Jesus.
The second consequence of the presence of Him Who reveals God on earth is that there will be peace on earth. That is the purpose of His coming, however much He, because He will be rejected, will also be a cause of division and struggle. These heavenly praisers of God are not concerned with the latter. They are busy with the fact of His presence and its consequences as they will once be fully realized in the realm of peace. He Who will work that, is the Person Who is now present.
The third consequence of His presence on earth is the pleasure, the affection of God with men. The fact that the Lord Jesus became Man proves God’s pleasure with people. He did not take hold of angels, but He takes hold of the descendants of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16, Darby translation). People are the objects of God’s infinite love and grace. The life revealed in Christ is the light of and for men (John 1:4). It is wonderful to see how these holy beings praise the exaltation of another kind to this exalted place, through the incarnation of the Word, without jealousy. It is about the glory of God and that is enough for them.
The Shepherds See the Child and Testify
When the angels have accomplished their task, they return to heaven. Then the shepherds come into motion. They urge each other to go to Bethlehem. They know that Bethlehem is the city of David. In these simple Israelites to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, faith is present and active. The Lord has made things known to them and that brings them to action. They want to see what they have been told.
They react totally different from the religious leaders when they hear from the born King. The leaders put themselves in the service of the enemy and a mass slaughter among the babies of Bethlehem is the result (Matthew 2:16-Job :). The shepherds go to worship. As fast as they can, they go to Bethlehem. There they find Mary and Joseph and the Child That lies in the manger. They see nothing spectacular, but the Child That they see is God’s salvation that has come to the people. However, it is in a way that can only be seen by faith.
They leave again when they have seen “This”, that is the Child. Nothing is said about Mary and Joseph. It is about the Child. Now that they have seen Him, they are going to testify. The Divine testimony they have received from the angel has now been experienced personally in Him Who they have seen. Now they can no longer keep to themselves what has been made known to them and what they have seen themselves. They have to talk about this with others. The content of their message is the word, “just as had been told them“.
All who hear what the shepherds say, wonder but it doesn’t make people go to the manger to see the Child. It is too common, even shameful, for the Messiah to come to them in this way.
Mary’s faith treasures everything she experiences (cf. Luke 2:51). She thinks about it in her heart. For her these are not transient impressions. It is too clear that God is at work and that the birth of her Child is special and will have special consequences. That is what she is thinking and that is what faith is occupied with.
The shepherds are impressed by what they have seen. When they return to their flock, they do nothing but glorify and praise God. They have heard and seen so much beauty. It was all in line with what the angel had told them. This is a wonderful effect of faith in the word, in what has been spoken to them. They do not give it any meaning of their own, but accept it as it has been said. This is the source of the glorification of God and the praise of Him. It will be the same with us if we accept in faith what we read in God’s Word. We can only praise Him for what He has shown us in His Word.
Circumcision of the Lord Jesus
The Lord Jesus is a Man from Israel, a Jew. Therefore the laws are of application to Him. He Who is born of a woman is born under the law (Galatians 4:4). He subdues Himself to laws He Himself has given. This means that he is circumcised (Luke 1:59; Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). Because He has been circumcised, He is obliged to keep the whole law (Galatians 5:3). He has done that. When He is circumcised, He also receives the name “Jesus”, which means “Yahweh is salvation”. That’s how the angel said it and that’s how it happens.
His circumcision has a much richer meaning than just showing His submission to the law. His circumcision also has a spiritual meaning. It looks forward to what will happen to Him on the cross of Calvary and what has actually happened. The circumcision on the cross refers to death under the judgment of God (Colossians 2:11) by which He truly made salvation. Thus there can be a new beginning for any man who accepts in faith that Christ has also bore the judgment of God over his sins for him.
The eighth day speaks of that new beginning. It speaks of the new creation of all those who participate in the circumcision of Christ. His circumcision is the foundation that there will be several people of pleasure. God wants sons of pleasure.
Sanctification of the Lord Jesus
After the circumcision, the days of cleansing take place. When Joseph and Mary have undergone the purification ritual (Leviticus 12:1-Joshua :), they take Him to Jerusalem to introduce Him to the Lord in the temple. Luke is the evangelist of the temple. He begins his Gospel with a scene in the temple and ends his Gospel with it.
The Lord Jesus is the firstborn Son of Mary. Therefore also with Him must be done according to the prescription from Exodus 13 (Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:12Exodus 13:15). However, He is not only literally the first-born Son of Mary, He is also in the full sense of the word the Firstborn of all people and the whole creation (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:6) because He is the most important Person. As a result of His circumcision on the cross He is also the Firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18) and therefore also the Firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
It must have been a great joy for God when Mary presented her Son to Him. God already saw all that in Him. God saw that His Son would bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). The Gospel according to Luke is the Gospel of the sonship, of sons of Gods pleasure.
At the sanctification there must also be brought a sacrifice. Joseph and Mary also do so. The sacrifice they bring shows the poor circumstances in which Christ was born (Leviticus 12:8). His parents bring the sacrifice of the poor. At the same time, these sacrifices make way for the true sacrifice that the Lord Jesus will be. His sacrifice is the foundation upon which worship can take place. We are in the temple, which is the place of worship. Worship can only take place on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ and can only take place by those who, as sons of God’s pleasure, are connected to the Son of God’s pleasure.
Simeon Takes the Child Into His Arms
After the Lord has been done what the law requires to be done, the words “and there was“ direct our eyes to a man in Jerusalem. He is one of the many men in Jerusalem, but he is a man with special characteristics. His name is “Simeon”, which means “hear”. He has learned to listen to the Voice of the Lord. This can also be seen in his life. He is “righteous” to other people and devout Godward. He lives with a view to the honor of God. That is why he also has love for God’s people, who are in so terrible a condition. He is also a man with future expectations. He is “looking for the consolation of Israel“, which he knows will come. He knows that from the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit likes to connect with such a person.
In Simeon we see the God-fearing remnant that the Lord recognizes as the Coming One according to what the Spirit works in them. Among the remnant are those who are aware of the misery and decay of Israel, but who at the same time are waiting for the God of Israel in faith for His unshakable faithfulness for the consolation of His people. They keep crying: “How long?” (Psalms 6:3; Psalms 13:2Psalms 35:17; Psalms 79:5Psalms 89:46; Psalms 90:13Psalms 94:3).
We see more in Simeon. We see in him the Spirit of sonship. He who possesses the Spirit of sonship and is guided by Him is someone with whom God can have fellowship and share His thoughts. God can make His thoughts known to Simeon. Simeon expects the consolation of Israel and the first to be consoled is he himself. He believes all God’s promises with a view to the consolation of Israel. He also believes the promise of God for him personally. It must have been a great encouragement for him to hear that he will see the Christ of the LORD, Yahweh, with his own eyes.
Simeon comes into the temple, not by a star or by a dream or by an angel, but by the Holy Spirit Who is upon him. He is led by the “Spirit of sonship” (Romans 8:15). A man like Simeon who is so guided by the Spirit comes into the temple at the right time. He comes into the temple and there walk Joseph and Mary with the Child Jesus.
He does not need to ask whether the Child that this couple has with them is the Christ of the Lord. The Spirit makes this clear to him. The shepherds have seen the angel and bow down before the Child. The wise men have seen the star and bow down before the Child. Simeon takes the Child into his arms. He embraces It and closes It in His Heart. In his arms lies the salvation of the world and peace for the earth. In fact, whoever encloses the child in his heart has the salvation and peace already in his heart, while there is no peace on earth yet. If you have Christ in your arms, you can only praise God.
The Song of Praise of Simeon
When Simeon has the Child in his arms, he praises his Lord, his Master, of Whom he is a bond-servant. The Lord has fulfilled His Word to Him. He can now depart in peace. The law of Moses could never allow a sinful man to depart in peace. Simeon can depart in peace based on what his Master has said. It is not an imagination, but sober faith. It is “according to Your word”. It is not just a passionate desire or an optimistic hope, but complete certainty. There is nothing more certain than the testimonies of God and His Word. Now he has seen with his own eyes the fulfillment of what God has said to him. For it has been revealed to Simeon by God that he will not see death before he has seen the Chris of the Lord. It was promised to him and now he sees Him!
The peace in which he may depart according to the Word of the Lord, is not a matter for him alone. The salvation that is the ground of peace is also meant for others who will not see the Child, but believe in Him. For Paul writes: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). About this salvation as a matter for all nations and not only for Israel, we have not heard in a previous song of praise. That is why Simeon goes further than the others.
He speaks about how the nations lived in the darkness during the time God acknowledged Israel as His people. For the gentiles these were “the times of ignorance” (Acts 17:30). At that time God punished their sinful deeds and made them go on their own ways (Acts 14:16) without interfering. But now, says the apostle, “God is … declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent “ (Acts 17:30). The apology for ignorance no longer applies. The light shines, the true light. Christ is that light and He is a light for the revelation of the gentiles. It is now the time of blindness for Israel, while the gentiles who have been in the dark for so long are now becoming public. They emerge from their humiliating position.
Moreover, when God has completed His work among the gentiles, this will also become true: “And the glory of Your people Israel.” The important Luke 2:32 shows us the consequences of Israel rejecting the Messiah. It also shows what will happen in the future before they reach the place God has intended for them. This is not the order we find in the prophets, where the Lord is seen as the glory of Israel Who also blesses the gentiles, but where the gentiles are subordinate to the chosen people. In this Luke 2:32, the order is reversed and very telling: “A light of revelation to the gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.”
Luke speaks of the present dispensation. The state of affairs predicted by the prophets follows this extraordinary period – that is, the time in which we live – in which the gentiles have been revealed. Then He will raise Israel to the highest earthly glory above all other nations. Thus it is guaranteed in the wisdom of God that His goodness will always apply to the nations and that He also fulfills His old and special promises to Israel. During the present dispensation, these two things are necessarily separated.
The Sword Through the Soul of Mary
Joseph and Mary are called “His father and mother”. He is entrusted to them as parents. For them, He is a special Baby with a special task. They cannot understand how special He is and what His task encompasses. They hear in amazement what Simeon, under the guidance of God’s Spirit, says of Him.
Then we read that Simeon blesses “them”, that are Joseph and Mary and not the Child. He then has another word especially for Mary. Her Son will become the great touchstone for all in Israel (Isaiah 8:14). Many will fall over him, but many will rise up after they have fallen. The latter will happen in the future with a remnant (Romans 11:11-Ezra :).
In Luke 2:31-Jonah :, we have heard the explanation of the certain fulfillment of God’s council in the Messiah. In it we listen to the joy of God’s own heart. In Luke 2:34-Habakkuk : the effect of the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah to Israel on earth is described. God tests the heart of man. As such, He will be a sign that is opposed.
We find three times that the Lord Jesus is a sign, each time in a different context, but each time connected to an event of enormous importance. The first sign is related to His coming in humiliation, the sign of the Child in the manger (Luke 2:12). The second sign is related to His rejection, His death, and His resurrection (Luke 2:34-Habakkuk :; Luke 11:29-Amos :). The third sign is related to His appearance in majesty (Matthew 24:30).
In connection with the second sign, the sign that will be opposed, a sword will pass through the soul of Mary. When she sees how her Child is rejected and how the natural bonds of the Messiah with the people are broken and misunderstood, that will cause great sorrow in her soul. He will be rejected and killed to reveal the thoughts of many hearts, for He is light. Then it will become clear that people hate light and prefer darkness to light. In Him the counsels of God and the heart of man are revealed.
Anna, the Prophetess
After the special man Simeon, Luke brings forward a special woman. She also deserves special attention in connection with the birth of the Savior. She is “a prophetess”, that is someone who understands the thoughts of God and knows how to apply them to heart and conscience. She possesses the spirit of prophecy, and that is Christ (Revelation 19:10). Her life revolves around Christ.
The names that are mentioned all have a nice meaning. Her own name is “Anna”, which means “grace”. She is a daughter of “Phanuel”, which means “face of God”, and she is from the tribe of “Asher”, which means “happy”. That she comes from Asher means that she does not belong to the two tribes Judah and Benjamin who returned to the land from the Babylonian exile, but that she belongs to the ten tribes that are still scattered. She represents the grace of God, which goes out to all twelve tribes.
She was married for only seven years and then became a widow, and she always remained so. [ NB Luke has a special eye for widows. He writes in his Gospel about five widows (Luke 2:36; Luke 4:26Luke 7:12; Luke 18:3Luke 21:2).] She has now grown old, but her mind power has remained. Because she feels the misery of Israel deeply, she calls “night and day” to the throne of God with the heart of a widow for a people to whom God is no longer a Husband. Just as she is, the people are widows, but the people do not realize this, and do not want to realize it. They believe they can claim God for themselves (cf. Revelation 18:7).
The whole existence of Anna is directed at God for the benefit of His people. To this end she fastens, and prays constantly to God. Just as Simeon is in the temple at the right time, Anna comes there at the right time. She too does not need to be informed about the Child That Simeon has in his arms. Through God’s Spirit she understands that she sees Christ.
Here those who fear God meet and speak to each other (Malachi 3:16). Those who belong to the remnant know each other. Anna speaks to them. She announces that the Lord has visited His temple. They all looked in Jerusalem forward to the deliverance. Now the Savior is there, unknown to men, but a cause of great joy for the poor remnant. What an answer to their faith!
Back in Nazareth
After this special presentation of the Lord Jesus to Yahweh, Joseph and Mary return with the Child to the despised Nazareth in the dark north of Israel. He grows up there. After that place, which has a despicable sound, He calls Himself when He is in glory and brings Saul to a standstill in his raging against Him (Acts 22:8). He could not have been our Savior if He had received glory in Jerusalem. His place is under the poor of the flock throughout Israel.
The birth of a child changes the life of a family drastically. With such a Child in their family, this will certainly have been the case with Joseph and Mary. Nevertheless, the life of Joseph and Mary during the childhood and adulthood of the Lord Jesus resumes its normal course. Joseph works as a carpenter. They also have children together (Mark 6:3).
As a summary of the first twelve years of the life of the Lord as Man, we are told that He is going through the ordinary development that is typical of man. He is truly Man and grows up as to mind, soul, and body. His whole life is a testimony of the grace of God which is upon Him. God’s grace has appeared in Him and has come so close to the people that they experience Him daily, without Him as a Man being especially noticeable. But He will have been noticed by His perfection in all things.
The Child Jesus in Jerusalem
The law requires that the Israelites have annual feasts on the occasion of which they, that is, the men, must go to Jerusalem. One of them is the Passover (Exodus 12:24-Daniel :; Deuteronomy 16:1-Ruth :). The parents of the Lord Jesus are pious Israelites and therefore go to the feast every year. When their Son has become twelve years old, He also goes with His parents to the feast.
His parents are used to going to the feast. There is nothing wrong with habits, it is wrong if something is done out of nothing but a habit. We have to know why we do something out of a habit, otherwise it becomes a hollow form and we don’t realize that the Lord has departed from us. If we dutifully visit the meetings and take our place there as usual, we may do so with an empty heart. Then we do not realize that the Lord is not there.
When the days of the feast are over, the Lord Jesus stays behind in Jerusalem, without His parents knowing. For Him, to go to Jerusalem is not simply doing what the law prescribes. For Him it has a deeper content. Jerusalem and the temple are for Him places that are dear to Him. These are places chosen by Himself, where He made His Name dwell. There He desires to stay. His parents do not know where His heart really lies. What would be disobedience to any other child is perfection to Him.
His parents suppose Him to be in the caravan, which must have been quite numerous. After looking for Him for a day, they did not find Him. That’s because they searched in the wrong places. It may also happen to us that we seek the Lord Jesus in the wrong places. This happens when we think that He is with us because we have a God-fearing family or that He is with acquaintances who know a lot about the Bible. But the point is whether we know Him personally and know that He does everything for the glory of God.
If they can’t find Him, they return to Jerusalem. They have lost their Son, they miss Him and they want Him back. That is a beautiful desire.
In the Things of His Father
It still takes three days before Joseph and Mary find Him. It seems they didn’t think of Jerusalem and the temple as places where He could be. They are not like Simeon and Anna who were brought there by the Spirit. The Lord Jesus abides where God is present and where God’s Word is reflected upon, where people devote themselves day and night to the study of God’s thoughts.
So little are they aware of what really moves Him, that they probably only go to the temple as the very last place to search as a possibility to find Him there. The astonishment must have been visible on their faces when they see Him sitting there among the teachers of Israel. But consider His attitude toward the teachers, how appropriate it is for a twelve-year-old Boy, Who indeed is the eternal God. He listens to them and asks them questions. Many years later they will ask Him their questions, but to tempt Him and find a reason to condemn Him.
Through this simple Boy, something is revealed to all who hear Him that they cannot explain, but that surprises them greatly. They see an ordinary Boy Who at the same time reveals supernatural features. He is the same Who gives Stephen the wisdom and the spirit to speak thereby in a way that his opponents cannot withstand (Acts 6:10). A little later the opponents of Stephen see how his face looks like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). This is not the case with the Lord Jesus. There is nothing special about Him, He does not have “[stately] form or majesty” (Isaiah 53:2), but what He says makes a great impression.
His parents are surprised that He is there. Mary sighs a sigh of relief that they have finally found Him, and reproaches Him for letting them look for Him in this way. She speaks of Joseph as “Your Father”, indicating that she has forgotten Who His Father is. That’s why she couldn’t find Him at first.
The answer He gives are the first words we hear from His mouth in the New Testament. These are words that make clear what life is all about. His first words are that He is easy to find for those who know Him. Who knows what it is all about with Him, does not have to search for long. The problem with Mary and Joseph is that they have their own ideas about Who their Child is. They do not consider that He has come on earth with a commission and that He has constant contact with His Father to fulfill it.
The Lord Jesus is perfectly aware of His right way of doing things. He does not admonish His mother directly, but in gentle humbleness He reprimands her with questions that point out to her why He is on earth. If she had realized that, she would have known that He is in the temple. She herself came to Jerusalem because she knew God asked. She also left again because the obligations had been met. He is always in the things [‘house’ is not in the original text] of His Father and that is why He stayed there.
What He says, the questions He asks, don’t get to them. This is because they are not focused enough on the things that occupy Him.
The questions that the Lord asks His parents are questions that children can always ask their parents. It is a question about why parents do things (cf. Exodus 12:26; Joshua 4:6). What do we answer when our children ask why we go to the church, or why we don’t go? What do we answer when they ask us why we do read, or do not read, in the Bible? These are all questions that sometimes halt us as parents, to think about how our life with the Lord looks like.
The Lord Jesus Grows Up
When the Lord’s task in Jerusalem is over, He goes home with His parents. He goes down with them to Nazareth. That is more than just describing the fact that Nazareth is lower than Jerusalem. It marks the path which the Lord has gone in humiliation.
With regard to Joseph and Mary, He takes the appropriate place. He listens to the tasks He receives from His parents and performs them directly and perfectly without contradicting them. They must have wondered over and over again about their eldest Son because He does everything He is asked to do directly and without grumbling. They have also seen His development. He is so true Man, that He physically and mentally experiences the same growth that every person goes through.
God looks upon Him in favor. He develops in complete harmony with God and responds to everything God has said that a man must be. In everything He is focused on God. God’s law is within Him; it is His delight to do God’s will (Psalms 40:8). Therefore He grows up perfectly in everything as the pure fruit of the law. That goes on for eighteen years.
He is also a welcome guest with the people. His presence is a blessing to all men. They experience His presence as a blessing. Here is Someone Who always has time and attention for them and is always willing to help.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter