|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:41-52 It is for the honour of Christ that children should attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must turn back again. Those that would recover their lost acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and calling.
Verse 43. - And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. The feast lasted seven days. Now, a boy in the East, twelve years old, is usually far more advanced than is ever the case in our Northern nations, where development is much slower. We may well suppose that the Boy was left much to himself during these days of the feast. It requires no stress of imagination to picture him absorbed in the temple and all that was to be seen and learned there. It was, doubtless, his first visit since infancy to the glorious house. Slowly, surely, had he been growing up into the consciousness of what he was and whence he came: may we not in all reverence assume that his self-recognition first really burst forth from the depths of his childhood's unconsciousness in that solemn week spent in the storied temple courts? When Joseph and Mary and their friends, as was usual after the seven days, commenced their return journey, the Boy, instead of joining this homeward-bound company of pilgrims, went as usual to the temple and the great teachers there, wholly absorbed in the new light which was breaking in upon him. There they found him. Strange that they should have for so long searched in other places. Had they only called to mind the sacred secret of the Child, surely they would have gone at once to the temple; was it not, after all, his earthly home, that holy house of his Father in Jerusalem?
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when they had fulfilled the days,.... The seven days of the fear of unleavened bread, for so many days that feast was observed; and though it was not absolutely necessary, and obligatory upon them to stay all that time at Jerusalem, yet Mary and Joseph seem so to have done, as did the more religious and devout persons:
as they returned; at the time when they were going from Jerusalem home again:
the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; being desirous of hearing the discourses of the doctors about the sense of the Scriptures, the meaning of the laws, and the traditions of the elders, and of conversing with them:
and Joseph, and his mother, knew not of it; of his intention to tarry longer, nor of his design in so doing: he did not ask leave of them, since his stay was about an affair of his heavenly Father's; and therefore this action of Christ is not to be drawn into an example, or precedent for children, to act without consulting, or asking leave of their parents. They had no notion at all of his staying behind them, nor any suspicion of it; nor did they miss him for a considerable time; which might be owing to the large numbers that went in company together, so that they could not tell but that he was in the crowd, though they did not see him; or to the men and women travelling in separate companies, as is thought; so that Joseph might think he was with Mary, and Mary might conclude he was with Joseph, till they came to the end of their first day's journey, when they came together, and then missed him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
43. as they returned—If the duties of life must give place to worship, worship, in its turn, must give place to them. Jerusalem is good, but Nazareth is good, too; let him who neglects the one, on pretext of attending to the other, ponder this scene.
tarried behind … Joseph and his mother knew not—Accustomed to the discretion and obedience of the lad [Olshausen], they might be thrown off their guard.
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