Luke 2:41
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
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(41) His parents went to Jerusalem.—The law of Moses required the attendance of all males at the three feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16). The dispersion of the Jews had, of course, relaxed the obligation for those who lived at a distance; but it was still more or less generally recognised by those who dwelt in Palestine, and the school of Hillel held the Passover to be binding upon women as well as men. The yearly journey to Jerusalem may therefore be taken as an indication of devout obedience, not without its bearing on the thoughts of the child who, during those visits, remained behind in the home at Nazareth.

Luke 2:41-47. Now his parents went to Jerusalem at the passover — As it was usual for those families to do that were remarkably religious, though only the adult males were, by the law, obliged to appear before the Lord on that occasion. And when he was twelve years old — And so, according to the Jewish maxims, came under the yoke of the law; they went up to Jerusalem, &c. — And thought it proper to take him with them, to celebrate that glorious deliverance which God had so many ages before wrought for his people, when he brought them out of Egypt; the memory of which was carefully to be transmitted to every succeeding generation. And when they had fulfilled the days — Eight days in all, one the passover, and seven the days of unleavened bread: as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind — Being engaged with the sacred ordinances of the festival, and the religious conversation attending it. And Joseph and his mother knew not of it — It appears, they supposed that he had set out with some of his relations, or acquaintance, and was in the company Εν τη συνοδια, a word that properly means, a company of travellers. As at the three great festivals, not only all the men that were able, but many women likewise, usually attended “the celebration at Jerusalem, they were wont, for their greater security against the attacks of robbers on the road, to travel in large companies. All who came, not only from the same city, but from the same canton or district, made one company. They carried necessaries along with them, and tents for their lodging at night. Sometimes in hot weather, they travelled all night and rested in the day. This is nearly the manner of travelling in the East to this hour. Such companies they now call caravans; and in several places have got houses fitted up for their reception, called caravanseries. This account of their manner of travelling furnishes a ready answer to the question, How could Joseph and Mary make a day’s journey without discovering, before night, that Jesus was not in the company? In the daytime, we may reasonably presume, that the travellers would, as occasion, business, or inclination led them, mingle with different parties of their friends and acquaintance; but that in the evening, when they were about to encamp, every one would join the family to which he belonged. As Jesus did not appear when it was growing late, his parents first sought him where they supposed he would most probably be, among his relations and acquaintances, and, not finding him, returned to Jerusalem;” in the utmost anxiety, to try if they could learn what was become of him. After three days — That is, on the morrow after their arrival, which was the third day from their leaving the city, they found him, to their great joy, in one of the chambers of the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors — Who, at certain seasons, and particularly in time of the great festivals, taught there publicly. It appears there were no less than three assemblies of the doctors, who had apartments in the temple. In these it was customary to propose doubts concerning the meaning of the precepts of the law, and the traditions of the elders, which was generally done by way of question. It is certainly a great injury to the character of our blessed Redeemer to represent this story, whether in pictures or words, as if Christ went up into the seats of the doctors, and there disputed with them. Nothing is said by the evangelist of his disputing, but only of his asking some questions and answering others; which was a very usual thing in these assemblies, and indeed the very end of them; for they were principally designed for catechetical examination and instruction of young people; always conducted, no doubt, with the utmost modesty and decorum. And if Jesus were, with others, at the feet of these teachers, (where learners generally sat,) he might be said to be in the midst of them, as they sat on benches of a semi-circular form raised above their hearers and disciples. See Lightfoot, Drusius, and Doddridge. And all that heard him were astonished — The word εξι σταντο, here rendered were astonished, and εξεπλαγησαν, in the next verse, are much more forcible expressions than the words whereby we translate them. They import, that they were in a transport of astonishment, and struck with admiration. As our Lord himself hath told us that, on this occasion, he was employed on his Father’s business, it is probable that, in these his answers and objections, he modestly insinuated corrections of the errors wherewith the Jewish teachers had now greatly disfigured religion. If we recollect that the school learning of the Jews was at this time at its highest pitch, and that our Lord, at the age of twelve years, was superior to the greatest doctors which the Jews could boast of, there will appear very just grounds for the admiration here mentioned.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.Strong in spirit - In mind, intellect, understanding. Jesus had a human soul, and that soul was subject to all the proper laws of a human spirit. It therefore increased in knowledge, strength, and character. Nor is it any more inconsistent with his being God to say that his soul expanded, than to say that his body grew.

Filled with wisdom - Eminent for wisdom when a child - that is, exhibiting an extraordinary understanding, and "wise" to flee from everything sinful and evil.

And the grace of God ... - The word "grace" in the New Testament commonly means unmerited favor shown "to sinners." Here it means no more than favor. God showed him favor, or was pleased with him and blessed him.

It is remarkable that this is all that is recorded of the infancy of Jesus; and this, with the short account that follows of his going to Jerusalem, is all that we know of him for thirty years of his life. The design of the evangelists was to give an account of his "public ministry," and not his private life. Hence, they say little of him in regard to his first years. What they do say, however, corresponds entirely with what we might expect. He was wise, pure, pleasing God, and deeply skilled in the knowledge of the divine law. He set a lovely example for all children; was subject to his parents, and increased in favor with God and man.

Lu 2:41-52. First Conscious Visit to Jerusalem.

"Solitary flowered out of the wonderful enclosed garden of the thirty years, plucked precisely there where the swollen bud, at a distinctive crisis (at twelve years of age), bursts into flower. To mark that is assuredly the design and the meaning of this record" [Stier].

The law of God enjoined all the males of the Israelites to appear at Jerusalem before him three times each year, of which the feast of unleavened bread was one; but the women seem not to have been all under the same obligation, but many of them went, of which Mary was one, but we read not of Christ’s going till he was twelve years old. Some think that the women used to go once in a year, we read that Elkanah’s wife went, 1 Samuel 1:5-7, but whether they generally did so or not the Scripture saith not. One thing is observable: the Pharisees, and scribes, and priests had in those days much corrupted the worship of God by their traditions, yet they retained the substance of God’s institutions; we find both our Saviour and his disciples, and other people of God, not wholly forsaking the Jewish church because of its corruptions, yet we cannot think they joined with them in any thing of their will worship; from whence we may learn a tenderness as to a total separation from a church, and the lawfulness of attending divine ministrations, though attended with usages which we approve not of, provided there be no idolatry in the service. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year,.... Joseph was obliged to go three times a year, as were all the males in Israel, at the feasts of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, Deuteronomy 16:16. The first of these is expressed here, at the feast of the passover; but the women were not obliged to go up: for so it is said by the Jews (p), , "the passover of women is voluntary", or in their own power; they might go up to the feast, or not, as they pleased. It is indeed said of Hillell, who was now alive, that he obliged the women to the first, but not to a second passover: to which the Karaites object; the account they give is as follows (q),

"truly the women were obliged, by the school of Hillell, to the offering of the passover; but if they were hindered from the first passover, the second was in their power; that is, the thing depended upon their will and pleasure, whether they would offer or not, which may be justly wondered at; for why should they be obliged to the, first, and not the second? for behold, as to the obligation of the passover, there is no difference between the first passover, and the second, The sum of the matter is, our wise men, on whom be peace, have determined and say, that there is no obligation but to males, who are arrived to maturity.

So that this was a voluntary thing in Mary; which discovers her piety and religion, and her great regard to the ordinances and appointments of God,

(p) T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 61. 3.((q) Eliahu Adderet, p. 39. apud Trigland. de Sect. Karaeorum, p. 28.

{7} Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

(7) The scribes and Pharisees are aroused to hear the wisdom of Christ in his time by an extraordinary deed.

Luke 2:41 f. Τῇ ἑορτῇ] Dative of time. Comp. Winer, p. 195, 193 [E. T. 273, 269]. The three great festivals (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles) were according to the Mosaic law to be celebrated, although with the gradual dispersion of the people this could not strictly be adhered to, by every male Israelite at the national sanctuary,—an excellent means of maintaining and elevating the common theocratic spirit; Exodus 23:14 ff; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16. See Ewald, Alterth. p. 406 ff.; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 421 ff. The annual passover-journey was shared also by Mary, doubtless independently of Hillel’s precept to that effect (Tanchuma, f. 33, 4), and in virtue of her piety (comp. 1 Samuel 1:7; Mechilta, f. 17, 2). As to the Passover, see on Matthew 26:2.

δώδεκα] At this age in the case of the boy, who now was called בֵּן הָתּו̇רָה, began the instruction in the law, the accustoming to worship, fasting, and the like, see Lightfoot, p. 739; Wetstein.Luke 2:41-52. When twelve years old. Lk. here relates one solitary, significant incident from the early years of Jesus, as if to say: from this, learn all. The one story shows the wish to collect anecdotes of those silent years. There would have been more had the evangelist had more to tell. The paucity of information favours the historicity of the tradition.41–52. The Passover Visit to the Temple

41. his parents] The great Rabbi Hillel had recommended women to attend the Passover. It was not enjoined by the Law, but the Jews admired it as a pious practice. (Mechilta, f. 17. 2 in Schöttgen.)

at the feast of the passover] Exodus 23:15-17; Deuteronomy 16:1-16. The custom of going up three times a year seems long to have fallen into abeyance with most Jews. 1 Samuel 1:21, “the yearly sacrifice.”Luke 2:41. Κατʼ ἔτος, year by year) Without fear of Archelaus. [Inasmuch as that prince had been removed after a nine years’ government, and had been driven into exile, the Saviour was able in safety to go to Jerusalem.—Harm., p. 58.]Verses 41-52. - The Child Jesus at Jerusalem. Verse 41. - Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. The Law required the attendance of all men at the three great Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). The dispersion and subsequent residence of so many Jews in distant lands had much broken up the regular observance of these directions. Still, many devout Jews were constantly present at these feasts. This Mosaic ordinance was only binding upon men, but R. Hillel recommended women always to be present at the Passover. The constant yearly presence of Joseph the carpenter and Mary at this feast is another indication of the rigid obedience of the holy family of Nazareth to the ritual of the Law of Moses. His parents

Though women were not bound to present themselves in person.

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