Luke 2 Jesus’ Birth And Early Childhood.
Luke 2:1-20 The Celebration Of Jesus’ Birth.
Luke once again lays down historical milestones. Luke is very concerned to anchor his account in the historical record of contemporary events. Furthermore the event he mentions was itself part of an historical recording-a register or census on who lived and where (vv. 1-3). This would anchor Luke’s account with the prediction of Daniel at 9:25. So, because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David, he had to make a journey with Mary from Nazareth (vv. 4-5). While in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to Jesus (v. 6 Cf. 1:31). So in the providence of God, Micah 5:2 found fulfillment in the birth of Christ (Cf. I Sam. 16:1). The Lord’s humble beginnings can be seen in the place of His birth, “a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (v. 7) No doubt the inn was full of those who had returned to be registered.
Jesus would also be called a Nazarene (Cf. Mt. 2:23). Anyone from Nazareth was regarded as somewhat despised and poor by the world’s standards (Jn. 1:46; 7:42, 52). It may be that this is a more general reference to the prophetic prediction of the promised one’s humble beginnings that may be in view. However, we also know that a Son would be born who would bring light “by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles.” (Is. 9:1b Cf. 9:6-7) Nazareth is almost equidistant between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean. Some also believe that the word Nazareth is derived from the Hebrew word for ‘branch’ so that Isaiah 11:1 may be in view. Otherwise, any prophetic reference to Nazareth is to that which did not find its way into the canon.
Jesus birth was celebrated by the heavenly angelic host, and not only them, but they in fact directed the shepherds to the place of his birth that they and the world may also celebrate his birth with them. According to the angel’s witness, His birth would in fact be a sign that the Saviour had come (vv. 10-14). These shepherds were further historical witness bearers, who were rightly afraid since they were standing at the threshold of the Glory-Presence (vv. 8-9). What more clearer directive and example from heaven could those Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas want? This is a scriptural reference for those of us who believe we should worship as God commands, and why we celebrate Jesus’ birth! This wasn’t something constructed by some pagan unbelieving shepherds (vv. 15-18, 20).
Jesus birth was celebrated because it was a sign that the Messiah had come. This was the beginning of the “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (v. 10). This would be celebrated by all peoples because this One would also bring light to the Gentiles (Is. 9:1b Cf. 9:6-7). This would be in fulfillment of the covenantal promise (Cf. Gen. 12:3). Jesus was His name, because He would save His people from their sins (v. 21 Cf. Mt. 1:21). This was also a directive given by the angels, which Mary and Joseph obeyed. Furthermore, although not found in the psalter, the angelic host sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (v. 14) All these events and words Mary pondered “in her heart” (v. 19), as she would with events later in His childhood (2:51).
Luke 2:21-35 Presentation, Purification, And Hope.
Joseph and Mary kept the law and circumcised Jesus on the eighth day (v. 21 Cf. Gen. 17:7; Lev. 12:3). They were poor, so they offered two doves or pigeons (v. 24 Cf. Lev. 12:6-8). They also followed the law with respect to purification, and Jesus was her firstborn (vv. 22-24 Cf. Ex. 13:2, 12, 15; Lev. 12:2-8; Dt. 18:4). As with Zacharias and Elizabeth, they showed themselves to be righteous covenant children of faith and promise (Cf. 1:6; 59). This is Jesus’ presentation before the presence of God in His house. This presentation is greeted by the man Simeon, who was also “just and devout,” and rejoiced because He knew that in Jesus there would be the “Consolation of Israel.” (v. 25) He was not the only one waiting for the Christ (Cf. Mk. 15:43).
He knew Jesus was the promised One because the Holy Spirit came upon him and, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (v. 26). He was clearly an officer of the temple, for he would do for Jesus and His parents what was “according to the custom of the law,” and blessed God (vv. 27-28) Simeon’s blessing begins with an acknowledgment of God’s promise to him to see the Christ before he died so that he could “depart in peace (v. 29). The consolation he spoke of is the salvation of His own, which includes all peoples (vv. 30-31 Cf. Is. 52:10). “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (v. 32 Cf. Is. 42:6; 49:6; Acts 10:45; 13:47; 28:28)
Mary had already been treasuring everything said about Jesus in her heart (Cf. 2:19), “and Joseph and Mary marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.” (v. 33) Simeon also blessed Mary and Joseph and spoke to Mary His mother. “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel.” (v. 34b) Some will fall and some will rise, and perhaps some will fall and rise, in that order. One thing is certain, there is both a falling and a rising (Cf. I Pet. 2:7-8). Jesus would also be a sign of this judgment coming (v. 34c). “The thoughts of many hearts” would be revealed, and ironically Mary, who pondered these things in her heart, would have her own soul pierced (v. 35). This will be the effect of the word, which is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”(Heb. 4:12)
Luke 2:36-40 Anna And Journeying By Faith.
The angel and angelic host bore witness, as did the shepherds, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and Simeon. Now there is Anna the prophetess, a widow, also bearing witness to Jesus as the promised One (v. 36). She also was a faithful child of promise, “who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (v. 37 Cf. I Tim. 5:5). She gave thanks and confessed to any who would hear, that Jesus was the one who would bring redemption to His people (v. 38 Cf. Mk. 15:43).
Luke makes the point again, that Jesus’ parents “performed all things according to the law of the Lord.” (v. 39) Only then did they return to their home in Nazareth. This shows that there are times when we must actually count the cost of being faithful. Their journey to Bethlehem was in response to a political decree, but their journey to the temple was a journey of faith. “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (v. 40 Cf. v. 52) Unlike us, Jesus favour or grace was merited.
Luke 2:41-52 Increasing In wisdom, Stature, And Favour.
The Passover was one of three feats that had to be observed in Jerusalem (Cf. Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23; Dt. 16:1, 16; Jn. 4:20). This was in keeping with their desire to keep the law. Luke chooses to focus on Jesus’ twelfth year (vv. 41-43). For whatever reason, Joseph and Mary got separated from Jesus, so while they were travelling home Jesus was in the temple in discussions with the teachers (vv. 44-46). He listened and had questions, but He also had answers. “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” (v. 47) It seems odd that the teachers would have discussions with a twelve year old for 3 days and not ask or inquire about his parents. Luke gives us the only information of Jesus’ early years and these three days seem perplexing on many fronts.
However, Luke has one main point to make-Jesus had another Father and He was about His Father’s business even at an early age (Cf. Jn. 9:4). Jesus seems to be asking His parents why they were running all over looking for Him. If they had remembered everything surrounding His birth and life up to this point, they should have known where He would be (vv. 48-50). It sometimes happens that children are more committed to God than their parents. However, for Jesus there was no conflict for, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.” (v. 51a) Once again, Mary “kept all these things in her heart.” (v. 51b) Two things were happening. “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.”
Jesus may have been out of favour with His parents on one level, because of their lack of understanding (v. 50), but on the whole He increased in favour with God and men, because He increased in wisdom and stature. Jesus has always been sinless. Therefore this tells us that the mere process of increasing in wisdom does not necessarily mean one is being transformed from a sinful condition (Cf. I Sam. 2:26). There is nothing sinful in and of itself, with the simple act of growing up. When Jesus became a full grown man people continued to be amazed that “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mt. 7:28 Cf. Lk. 4:22, 32; Mt. 13:54; 22:33; Jn. 7:15, 46) Even here Jesus gives us an example to follow, “attaining to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding.” (Col. 2:2)