Luke 2:41-52 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple
LK2:41 Now each year [Jesus’] parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. LK2:42 So when Jesus was twelve years old he went up with them according to the custom of the festival. LK2:43 After fulfilling the days [of the festival] [the parents] returned but the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem. His parents were unaware of this, LK2:44 thinking him to be in the traveling group. Then after a day’s journey they went looking for Jesus among their relatives and friends. LK2:45 But they did not find him so they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. LK2:46 Then after [looking] three days they finally found Jesus sitting among the [Jewish] teachers in the temple [courtyard]. Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions. LK2:47 Everyone listening was amazed at his comprehension and the answers he gave. LK2:48 When his parents saw him they were astonished and then his mother said to him: “Son, why did you do this to us? Look, your father and I were in a lot of pain searching for you!” LK2:49 Then Jesus said to his parents: “Did you not realize that I would be in my Father’s House?” LK2:50 But, his parents did not understand this statement he made to them. LK2:51 Then he descended with them and they all arrived in Nazareth and there Jesus continued to be in subjection to his parents. His mother treasured all of these things in her heart. LK2:52 And Jesus continued to increase in wisdom and physical growth and in favor with God and people.
 Twelve years old: It is possible Jesus had turned twelve in the fall around October for it is now spring.
 Fulfilling the days [of the festival]: Eight days.
 Three days: Missing four days, it is interesting these Jewish parents did not think of the temple first.
 Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions: Nothing here tells us Jesus was teaching these rabbis. He was “listening” and asking questions. At the age of twelve the Jewish boy became a “Son of the Covenant.” The next phrase shows Jesus answered their questions well and this impressed those listening.
 Son, why did you do this to us: Or, Child; TCN: treated us like this. A mother’s question. We note it is not Joseph who speaks. It is interesting that such an intelligent lad did not make some provision for telling his parents. Perhaps he knew had he asked they would not have given their permission.
 In a lot of pain: Or, anxious, distress, anguish. Though it is known Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters, nothing is mentioned about them here.
 In my Father’s House: Or, business. The Greek is only “things” and so does not refer at all to the Jewish temple proper. There were several courtyards in the compound of Herod’s temple. A woman was not permitted in the Court of Israel where only men worshipped God. It is likely they were all in an outer courtyard. The word “house” is used of the tabernacle of Moses and the temples that followed. [Psalm 26:8; 27:4]
“I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells.” (Ps 26:8 NIV)
“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Ps 27:4 NIV)
 Did not understand: This was a common reaction to things Jesus said, including his own later disciples. To Bible readers looking at matters in retrospect the failure to understand is surprising. The use of the word “Father” was very rare in the context of God. The Hebrew Bible uses the word “father” over a thousand times, but in all of these only about a dozen refer to God and most of these are in a Messianic context.
 Jesus continued to be in subjection: Or, NEB: under their authority; TCN: submitted himself to their control; MON: always obedient. If Jesus were to observe the Law of Moses perfectly then he would also keep the Commandment to honor his parents. [Ephesians 6:1, 2]
“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—” (Eph 6:1-2 NIV)
 His mother treasured all of these things in her heart: Or, KNX: kept in her heart the memory all that had occurred. Luke has a firsthand source in Jesus’ mother and his brothers and sisters. We can see the good doctor listening intently as these and others related their experiences with Jesus.
 Wisdom and physical growth: Or, stature. The “missing” eighteen years of Jesus life will one day be a fascinating read. We learn from this phrase two important things: a] Jesus continued to grow in that “wisdom” found in the Hebrew Bible [Proverbs 1-3]; and, b] Jesus experienced growing up throughout his teenage years through his twenties as a Jewish lad in a small village under the occupation of the Roman world, influenced considerably by Greek heritage. Jerusalem was right in the center of the great trade routes of the ancient world. For an eager and brilliant mind there was much to stimulate a growing youth. At some point Joseph dies and likely Jesus becomes something of the family head as the oldest son. He learns much about motherhood, womanhood, growing children, Jewish rituals, neighbors good and bad, Roman occupation, Greek culture, providing a livelihood for a large family, and the need to find solitude.
 In favor with God and people: Jesus not only learned but he increased in God’s favor [approval, blessing, love] indicating he was certainly not God Himself. How does one increase in God’s favor? By ever increasing faith demonstrated by a love for God’s Word and fellowship with His people. We can imagine a young man who the local people could not commend enough. He was not a selfish, egotistical, self-centered carpenter in Nazareth. Jesus learned how to get along with his neighbors, how to keep quiet and not express an opinion when it would accomplish nothing. He was no young upstart who irritated the elders of the community. He was liked by everyone and his reputation was flawless in his community. Everyone knew that the young carpenter did excellent work and asked a fair price. Later Paul will put it: “He learned obedience from the things he suffered.” [Hebrews 5:8]
“Christ among the doctors,” Vasily Polenov, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:8-14 – Angels and Shepherds in the Night
Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:15-20 – Shepherds Find the Infant Christ
Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:21-24 – Presenting the Baby to God
Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:25-35 – Simeon’s Blessing and Warning
Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:36-38 – Anna’s Thanks before Those Waiting
Luke 2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Luke 2:39-40 – The Young Child Grows
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- To the question “Did Jesus Know he was God?” the Bible gives a resolute answer that Jesus very well knew his position. He never claimed to be a god or the God, nor did he ever think that he would be equal to God. For him, it was clear that he was a child of God that wanted to do the will of his heavenly Father, and therefore he put his own will aside. As a servant of God he also asked the people around him to believe in the One Who had sent him and Who is much greater than him. => Please do also find to read: For those who believe Jesus is God