July 14, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Savior in the Temple
“And it came to pass after three days they found Him in the Temple,
sitting in the midst of the doctors.” (Luke 2:46).
Luke is the inspired writer who details journeys for us. In his account of the Acts of the Apostles, he detailed the “journey” of the gospel, out from Jerusalem to the four corners of the earth. He chronicled the journeys of the apostle Paul in connection with this as well. In his gospel, it is primarily the journeying of the Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem and the cross. But Luke also takes time to stop in at the temple on various occasions. He related many Temple scenes throughout his Gospel. He opens his account with a Temple scene (ch 1:9) and closes it with another Temple scene (ch 24:53). But undoubtedly the best known of all is the scene in the Temple in Luke 2 when, as a boy of twelve, the Lord Jesus was found in the Temple amidst the doctors.
It may be, as Josephus and others suggest, that this would have been the first time the Lord Jesus visited Jerusalem at the Passover. If so, then it would have been the first occasion He could visit “His Father’s House.” The story is well-known: His parents left but He remained in Jerusalem at the Temple. Worried parents made their way back to the city to search for Him and found Him in the Temple discussing the Word of God with the learned men of the day. All that ensued will reveal how this perfect Man, even though a boy of twelve, handled what may be some of the greatest tests which a man can face. Notice first how He reacted to —
Mary rebuked Him with her words, “Son, why hast Thou dealt thus with us.” To her parental mind with its deep sense of care, He had been irresponsible in His behavior. It is amazing to think of a human being rebuking the Son of God; of a creature attempting to lay guilt at the feet of the Lord Jesus. She misunderstood the character and concerns of the Son she had just rebuked.
But had He been indifferent to their concerns? Had He perhaps been thoughtless in not advising them of His whereabouts? His reply to Mary indicates that it should have been obvious in light of the twelve years He had been with them, that at the first opportunity afforded Him, He would be in His Father’s House in Jerusalem, not His earthly father’s home in Nazareth. Such was the tenor, character, and consistency of His twelve years, that the only place He would be was the Temple.
Unruffled, without rancor or indignation, He reminded her of what should have been obvious.
In the Temple that day, men were amazed and marveled that a boy of twelve would be able to ask insightful and intelligent questions to the doctors of the law. They were even more amazed at His “understanding and answers” (v 47). The spotlight was on Him. Everyone was deeply impressed.
It would be wonderful to know what part of the Scriptures they were discussing and what His questions and insights were. But that is not the purpose of the Spirit of God. We are being shown how God expected a man to react to “success” and the acclaim He received from men. The Spirit of God tells us, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject unto them” (v 51). With humility and immeasurable grace, He left the spotlight of Jerusalem for the subject place in Nazareth.
He handled both the misunderstanding from His parents and the marveling of men with equal beauty.