Gospel: Luke 2:40-52
Epistle: Eph. 1:3-14
Lesson: 1 Kings 3:4-15
Psalm: Psalm 119:97-104
CLB Commentary – Dr. Gaylan Mathiesen
It is interesting how the idea of physical growth (ηὔξανεν) and spiritual growth (ἐκραταιοῦτο) in v. 40, and progression (προέκοπτεν) in v. 52, serve like bookends to this pericope passage. In a similar way, the infancy narrative of Jesus begins and ends in the temple (as does the entire Lukan Gospel: see 1:5 and 24:53). This is an account that vividly speaks of growth and development, the setting for which is God’s temple. What do these clues tell us?
In between these “bookends” we see Jesus actively preparing himself for his calling. He now knows exactly who he is and the direction in which his life is headed; and so he puts himself in the most natural place for receiving what he needs for future ministry—the temple where God is said to dwell, and where instruction about God regularly takes place. In this setting, Jesus declares to his parents the divine necessity (explore Luke’s use of δεῖ in a ὅτι clause) of carrying out the mission that lies ahead of him. We must see that this is not simply outward compulsion acting upon Jesus to dedicate himself to the interests of his Father; instead, to serve and obey the Father’s will is Jesus’ all-consuming passion. This is evident all through the Gospels. Neither is this a statement about priorities as much as it is a pointer to the redemptive purpose for which Jesus came. (We recall the words Simeon and Anna’s spoke about Jesus 12 years earlier in the temple, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel”[2:30-32].)
This thought is further expressed when his father and mother express surprise upon finding Jesus in the temple. “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Notice here, how Jesus responds by taking the word “father” and transferring it to his heavenly “Father” when he speaks of the necessity of being in “my Father’s house.” He sensed it was only natural for him to be where he was, and yet they didn’t yet understand what seemed so natural and matter of fact to their son. Luke shows us how Jesus has grown into a profound understanding of his position as the Son of God and of God as his Father, and yet we also see that Jesus doesn’t put himself above his parents, but humbly and obediently returns with them to Nazareth until the time is right for him to fully enter into the ministry that is being prepared for him.
Luke wrote his Gospel to introduce us to Jesus and to prompt us to ask: “Who is this amazing man? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth?” Everything up to this point has revealed to us that this is no ordinary child—this is a child that is destined to become the fulfillment of all prophecy and the center point for all of human history.