World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

Dedication to Theophilus

 1

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

 

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. 22When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25“This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

47

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

50

His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

51

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

52

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

53

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

54

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

55

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

68

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

69

He has raised up a mighty savior for us

in the house of his servant David,

70

as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71

that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

72

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,

and has remembered his holy covenant,

73

the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,

might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness

before him all our days.

76

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

by the forgiveness of their sins.

78

By the tender mercy of our God,

the dawn from on high will break upon us,

79

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

 

The Birth of Jesus

 2

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Jesus Is Named

21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,

according to your word;

30

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

31

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

 


Select a resource above

Lu 1:1-4.

It appears from the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apostolic Epistles, that the earliest preaching of the Gospel consisted of a brief summary of the facts of our Lord's earthly history, with a few words of pointed application to the parties addressed. Of these astonishing facts, notes would naturally be taken and digests put into circulation. It is to such that Luke here refers; and in terms of studied respect, as narratives of what was "believed surely," or "on sure grounds" among Christians, and drawn up from the testimony of "eye-witnesses and ministering servants of the word." But when he adds that "it seemed good to him also to write in order, having traced down all things with exactness from their first rise," it is a virtual claim for his own Gospel to supersede these "many" narratives. Accordingly, while not one of them has survived the wreck of time, this and the other canonical Gospels live, and shall live, the only fitting vehicles of those life-bringing facts which have made all things new. Apocryphal or spurious gospels, upheld by parties unfriendly to the truths exhibited in the canonical Gospels, have not perished; but those well-meant and substantially correct narratives here referred to, used only while better were not to be had, were by tacit consent allowed to merge in the four peerless documents which from age to age, and with astonishing unanimity, have been accepted as the written charter of all Christianity.

1. set forth in order—more simply, to draw up a narrative.

2. from the beginning—that is, of His public ministry, as is plain from what follows.

3. from the very first—that is, from the very earliest events; referring to those precious details of the birth and early life, not only of our Lord, but of His forerunner, which we owe to Luke alone.

in order—or "consecutively"—in contrast, probably, with the disjointed productions to which he had referred. But this must not be pressed too far; for, on comparing it with the other Gospels, we see that in some particulars the strict chronological order is not observed in this Gospel.

most excellent—or "most noble"—a title of rank applied by this same writer twice to Felix and once to Festus (Ac 22:26; 24:3; 26:25). It is likely, therefore, that "Theophilus" was chief magistrate of some city in Greece or Asia Minor [Webster and Wilkinson].

4. that thou mightest know—"know thoroughly."

hast been instructed—orally instructed—literally, "catechized" or "catechetically taught," at first as a catechumen or candidate for Christian baptism.

Lu 1:5-25. Announcement of the Forerunner.

5. Herod—(See on Mt 2:1).

course of Abia—or Abijah; the eighth of the twenty-four orders of courses into which David divided the priests (see 1Ch 24:1, 4, 10). Of these courses only four returned after the captivity (Ezr 2:34-39), which were again subdivided into twenty-four—retaining the ancient name and order of each. They took the whole temple service for a week each.

his wife was of the daughters of Aaron—The priests might marry into any tribe, but "it was most commendable of all to marry one of the priests' line" [Lightfoot].

6. commandments and ordinances—The one expressing their moral—the other their ceremonial—obedience [Calvin and Bengel], (Compare Eze 11:20; Heb 9:1). It has been denied that any such distinction was known to the Jews and New Testament writers. But Mr 12:33, and other passages, put this beyond all reasonable doubt.

7. So with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Elkanah and Hannah, Manoah and his wife.

9. his lot was to burn incense—The part assigned to each priest in his week of service was decided by lot. Three were employed at the offering of incense—to remove the ashes of the former service; to bring in and place on the golden altar the pan filled with hot burning coals taken from the altar of burnt offering; and to sprinkle the incense on the hot coals; and, while the smoke of it ascended, to make intercession for the people. This was the most distinguished part of the service (Re 8:3), and this was what fell to the lot of Zacharias at this time [Lightfoot].

10. praying without—outside the court in front of the temple, where stood the altar of burnt offering; the men and women in separate courts, but the altar visible to all.

the time of incense—which was offered along with the morning and evening sacrifice of every day; a beautiful symbol of the acceptableness of the sacrifice offered on the altar of burnt offering, with coals from whose altar the incense was burnt (Le 16:12, 13). This again was a symbol of the "living sacrifice" of themselves and their services offered daily to God by the worshippers. Hence the language of Ps 141:2; Re 8:3. But that the acceptance of this daily offering depended on the expiatory virtue presupposed in the burnt offering, and pointing to the one "sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor" (Eph 5:2), is evident from Isa 6:6, 7.

11. right side—the south side, between the altar and the candlestick, Zacharias being on the north side, in front of the altar, while offering incense [Webster and Wilkinson]. But why there? The right was the favorable side (Mt 25:33) [Schottgen and Westein in Meyer]; compare Mr 16:5.

13. thy prayer is heard—doubtless for offspring, which by some presentiment he even yet had not despaired of.

John—the same as "Johanan," so frequent in the Old Testament, meaning "Jehovah's gracious gift."

14. shall rejoice—so they did (Lu 1:58, 66); but the meaning rather is, "shall have cause to rejoice"—it would prove to many a joyful event.

15. great in the sight of the Lord—nearer to Him in official standing than all the prophets. (See Mt 11:10, 11.)

drink neither wine nor strong drink—that is, shall be a Nazarite, or "a separated one" (Nu 6:2, &c.). As the leper was the living symbol of sin, so was the Nazarite of holiness; nothing inflaming was to cross his lips; no razor to come on his head; no ceremonial defilement to be contracted. Thus was he to be "holy to the Lord [ceremonially] all the days of his separation." This separation was in ordinary cases temporary and voluntary: only Samson (Jud 13:7), Samuel (1Sa 1:11), and John Baptist were Nazarites from the womb. It was fitting that the utmost severity of legal consecration should be seen in Christ's forerunner. He was the Reality and Perfection of the Nazarite without the symbol, which perished in that living realization of it: "Such an High Priest became us, who was Separate from Sinners" (Heb 7:26).

filled with the Holy Ghost, from … womb—a holy vessel for future service.

16, 17. A religious and moral reformer, Elijah-like, he should be (Mal 4:6, where the "turning of the people's heart to the Lord" is borrowed from 1Ki 18:37). In both cases their success, though great, was partial—the nation was not gained.

17. before him—before "the Lord their God" (Lu 1:16). By comparing this with Mal 3:1 and Isa 40:3, it is plainly "Jehovah" in the flesh of Messiah [Calvin and Olshausen] before whom John was to go as a herald to announce His approach, and a pioneer o prepare His way.

in the spirit—after the model.

and power of Elias—not his miraculous power, for John did no miracle" (Joh 10:41), but his power "turning the heart," or with like success in his ministry. Both fell on degenerate times; both witnessed fearlessly for God; neither appeared much save in the direct exercise of their ministry; both were at the head of schools of disciples; the success of both was similar.

fathers to the children—taken literally, this denotes the restoration of parental fidelity [Meyer and others], the decay of which is the beginning of religious and social corruption—one prominent feature of the coming revival being put for the whole. But what follows, explanatory of this, rather suggests a figurative sense. If "the disobedient" be "the children," and to "the fathers" belongs "the wisdom of the just" [Bengel], the meaning will be, "he shall bring back the ancient spirit of the nation into their degenerate children" [Calvin, &c.]. So Elijah invoked "the God Abraham, Isaac, and Israel," when seeking to "turn their heart back again" (1Ki 18:36, 37).

to make ready, &c.—more clearly, "to make ready for the Lord a prepared people," to have in readiness a people prepared to welcome Him. Such preparation requires, in every age and every soul, an operation corresponding to the Baptist's ministry.

18. Whereby, &c.—Mary believed what was far harder without a sign. Abraham, though older, and doubtless Sarah, too, when the same promise was made to him, "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." This was that in which Zacharias failed.

19. Gabriel—signifying "man of God," the same who appeared to Daniel at the time of incense (Da 9:21) and to Mary (Lu 1:26).

stand, &c.—as his attendant (compare 1Ki 17:1).

20. dumb—speechless.

not able—deprived of the power of speech (Lu 1:64). He asked a sign, and now he got it.

until the day that these things shall be performed—See on Lu 1:64.

21. waited—to receive from him the usual benediction (Nu 6:23-27).

tarried so long—It was not usual to tarry long, lest it should be thought vengeance had stricken the people's representative for something wrong [Lightfoot].

22. speechless—dumb, and deaf also (see Lu 1:62).

24. hid five months—till the event was put beyond doubt and became apparent.

Lu 1:26-38. Annunciation of Christ.

(See on Mt 1:18-21).

26. sixth month—of Elisabeth's time.

Joseph, of the house of David—(See on Mt 1:16).

28. highly favoured—a word only once used elsewhere (Eph 1:6, "made accepted"): compare Lu 1:30, "Thou hast found favour with God." The mistake of the Vulgate's rendering, "full of grace," has been taken abundant advantage of by the Romish Church. As the mother of our Lord, she was the most "blessed among women" in external distinction; but let them listen to the Lord's own words. "Nay, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it." (See on Lu 11:27).

31. The angel purposely conforms his language to Isaiah's famous prophecy (Isa 7:14) [Calvin].

32, 33. This is but an echo of the sublime prediction in Isa 9:6, 7.

34. How, &c.—not the unbelief of Zacharias, "Whereby shall I know this?" but, taking the fact for granted, "How is it to be, so contrary to the unbroken law of human birth?" Instead of reproof, therefore, her question is answered in mysterious detail.

35. Holy Ghost—(See on Mt 1:18).

power of the highest—the immediate energy of the Godhead conveyed by the Holy Ghost.

overshadow—a word suggesting how gentle, while yet efficacious, would be this Power [Bengel]; and its mysterious secrecy, withdrawn, as if by a cloud, from human scrutiny [Calvin].

that holy thing born of thee—that holy Offspring of thine.

therefore … Son of God—That Christ is the Son of God in His divine and eternal nature is clear from all the New Testament; yet here we see that Sonship efflorescing into human and palpable manifestation by His being born, through "the power of the Highest," an Infant of days. We must neither think of a double Sonship, as some do, harshly and without all ground, nor deny what is here plainly expressed, the connection between His human birth and His proper personal Sonship.

36. thy cousin—"relative," but how near the word says not.

conceived, &c.—This was to Mary an unsought sign, in reward of her faith.

37. For, &c.—referring to what was said by the angel to Abraham in like case (Ge 18:14), to strengthen her faith.

38. Marvellous faith in such circumstances!

Lu 1:39-56. Visit of Mary to Elisabeth.

39. hill country—the mountainous tract running along the middle of Judea, from north to south [Webster and Wilkinson].

with haste—transported with the announcement to herself and with the tidings, now first made known to her, of Elisabeth's condition.

a city of Juda—probably Hebron (see Jos 20:7; 21:11).

40. saluted Elisabeth—now returned from her seclusion (Lu 1:24).

41. babe leaped—From Lu 1:44 it is plain that this maternal sensation was something extraordinary—a sympathetic emotion of the unconscious babe, at the presence of the mother of his Lord.

42-44. What beautiful superiority to envy have we here! High as was the distinction conferred upon herself, Elisabeth loses sight of it altogether, in presence of one more honored still; upon whom, with her unborn Babe, in an ecstasy of inspiration, she pronounces a benediction, feeling it to be a wonder unaccountable that "the mother of her Lord should come to her." "Turn this as we will, we shall never be able to see the propriety of calling an unborn child "Lord," but by supposing Elisabeth, like the prophets of old, enlightened to perceive the Messiah's Divine nature" [Olshausen].

43. "The mother of my Lord"—but not "My Lady" (compare Lu 20:42; Joh 20:28)" [Bengel].

45. An additional benediction on the Virgin for her implicit faith, in tacit and delicate contrast with her own husband.

for—rather, as in the Margin, "that."

46-55. A magnificent canticle, in which the strain of Hannah's ancient song, in like circumstances, is caught up, and just slightly modified and sublimed. Is it unnatural to suppose that the spirit of the blessed Virgin had been drawn beforehand into mysterious sympathy with the ideas and the tone of this hymn, so that when the life and fire of inspiration penetrated her whole soul it spontaneously swept the chorus of this song, enriching the Hymnal of the Church with that spirit-stirring canticle which has resounded ever since from its temple walls? In both songs, those holy women, filled with wonder to behold "the proud, the mighty, the rich," passed by, and, in their persons the lowliest chosen to usher in the greatest events, sing of this as no capricious movement, but a great law of the kingdom of God, by which He delights to "put down the mighty from their seats and exalt them of low degree." In both songs the strain dies away on Christ; in Hannah's under the name of "Jehovah's King"—to whom, through all His line, from David onwards to Himself, He will "give strength"; His "Anointed," whose horn He will exalt (1Sa 2:10); in the Virgin's song, it is as the "Help" promised to Israel by all the prophets.

My soul … my spirit—"all that is within me" (Ps 103:1).

47. my Saviour—Mary, poor heart, never dreamt, we see, of her own "immaculate conception"—in the offensive language of the Romanists—any more than of her own immaculate life.

54. holpen—Compare Ps 89:19, "I have laid help on One that is mighty."

55. As he spake to our fathersThe sense requires this clause to be read as a parenthesis. (Compare Mic 7:20; Ps 98:3).

for ever—the perpetuity of Messiah's kingdom, as expressly promised by the angel (Lu 1:33).

56. abode with her about three months—What an honored roof was that which, for such a period, overarched these cousins! and yet not a trace of it is now to be seen, while the progeny of those two women—the one but the honored pioneer of the other—have made the world new.

returned to her own house—at Nazareth, after which took place what is recorded in Mt 1:18-25.

Lu 1:57-80. Birth and Circumcision of JohnSong of Zacharias and Progress of the Child.

59. eighth day—The law (Ge 17:12) was observed, even though the eighth day after birth should be a sabbath (Joh 7:23; and see Php 3:5).

called him—literally, "were calling"—that is, (as we should say) "were for calling." The naming of children at baptism has its origin in the Jewish custom at circumcision (Ge 21:3, 4); and the names of Abram and Sarai were changed at its first performance (Ge 17:5, 15).

62. made signs—showing he was deaf, as well as dumb.

63. marvelled all—at his giving the same name, not knowing of any communication between them on the subject.

64. mouth opened immediately—on thus palpably showing his full faith in the vision, for disbelieving which he had been struck dumb (Lu 1:13, 20).

65. fear—religious awe; under the impression that God's hand was specially in these events (compare Lu 5:26; 7:16; 8:37).

66. hand of the Lord was with him—by special tokens marking him out as one destined to some great work (1Ki 18:46; 2Ki 3:15; Ac 11:21).

68-79. There is not a word in this noble burst of divine song about his own child; like Elisabeth losing sight entirely of self, in the glory of a Greater than both.

Lord God of Israel—the ancient covenant God of the peculiar people.

visited and redeemed—that is, in order to redeem: returned after long absence, and broken His long silence (see Mt 15:31). In the Old Testament, God is said to "visit" chiefly for judgment, in the New Testament for mercy. Zacharias would, as yet, have but imperfect views of such "visiting and redeeming," "saving from and delivering out of the hand of enemies" (Lu 1:71, 74). But this Old Testament phraseology, used at first with a lower reference, is, when viewed in the light of a loftier and more comprehensive kingdom of God, equally adapted to express the most spiritual conceptions of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

69. horn of salvation—that is "strength of salvation," or "mighty Salvation," meaning the Saviour Himself, whom Simeon calls "Thy Salvation" (Lu 2:30). The metaphor is taken from those animals whose strength is in their horns (Ps 18:2; 75:10; 132:17).

house of … DavidThis shows that Mary must have been known to be of the royal line, independent of Joseph; of whom Zacharias, if he knew anything, could not know that after this he would recognize Mary.

70. since the world began—or, "from the earliest period."

72. the mercy promised … his holy covenant …

73. the oath … to … Abraham—The whole work and kingdom of Messiah is represented as a mercy pledged on oath to Abraham and his seed, to be realized at an appointed period; and at length, in "the fulness of the time," gloriously made good. Hence, not only "grace," or the thing promised; but "truth," or fidelity to the promise, are said to "come by Jesus Christ" (Joh 1:17).

74, 75. That he would grant us, &c.—How comprehensive is the view here given! (1) The purpose of all redemption—"that we should serve Him"—that is, "the Lord God of Israel" (Lu 1:68). The word signifies religious service distinctively—"the priesthood of the New Testament" [Bengel]. (2) The nature of this service—"in holiness and righteousness before Him" (Lu 1:75)—or, as in His presence (compare Ps 56:13). (3) Its freedom—"being delivered out of the hand of our enemies." (4) Its fearlessness—"might serve Him without fear." (5) Its duration—"all the days of our life."

76-79. Here are the dying echoes of this song; and very beautiful are these closing notes—like the setting sun, shorn indeed of its noontide radiance, but skirting the horizon with a wavy and quivering light—as of molten gold—on which the eye delights to gaze, till it disappears from the view. The song passes not here from Christ to John, but only from Christ direct to Christ as heralded by His forerunner.

thou child—not "my son"—this child's relation to himself being lost in his relation to a Greater than either.

prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before him—that is, "the Highest." As "the Most High" is an epithet in Scripture only of the supreme God, it is inconceivable that inspiration should apply this term, as here undeniably, to Christ, unless He were "God over all blessed for ever" (Ro 9:5).

77. to give knowledge of salvation—To sound the note of a needed and provided "salvation" was the noble office of John, above all that preceded him; as it is that of all subsequent ministers of Christ; but infinitely loftier was it to be the "Salvation" itself (Lu 1:69 and Lu 2:30).

by the remission of … sins—This stamps at once the spiritual nature of the salvation here intended, and explains Lu 1:71, 74.

78. Through the tender mercy of our God—the sole spring, necessarily, of all salvation for sinners.

dayspring from on high—either Christ Himself, as the "Sun of righteousness" (Mal 4:2), arising on a dark world [Beza, Grotius, Calvin, De Wette, Olshausen, &c.], or the light which He sheds. The sense, of course, is one.

79. (Compare Isa 9:2; Mt 4:13-17). "That St. Luke, of all the Evangelists, should have obtained and recorded these inspired utterances of Zacharias and Mary—is in accordance with his character and habits, as indicated in Lu 1:1-4" [Webster and Wilkinson].

80. And the child, &c.—"a concluding paragraph, indicating, in strokes full of grandeur, the bodily and mental development of the Baptist; and bringing his life up to the period of his public appearance" [Olshausen].

in the deserts—probably "the wilderness of Judea" (Mt 3:1), whither he had retired early in life, in the Nazarite spirit, and where, free from rabbinical influences and alone with God, his spirit would be educated, like Moses in the desert, for his future high vocation.

his showing unto Israel—the presentation of himself before his nation, as Messiah's forerunner.

Lu 2:1-7. Birth of Christ.

1. Cæsar Augustus—the first of the Roman emperors.

all the world—so the vast Roman Empire was termed.

taxed—enrolled, or register themselves.

2. first … when Cyrenius, &c.—a very perplexing verse, inasmuch as Cyrenius, or Quirinus, appears not to have been governor of Syria for about ten years after the birth of Christ, and the "taxing" under his administration was what led to the insurrection mentioned in Ac 5:37. That there was a taxing, however, of the whole Roman Empire under Augustus, is now admitted by all; and candid critics, even of skeptical tendency, are ready to allow that there is not likely to be any real inaccuracy in the statement of our Evangelist. Many superior scholars would render the words thus, "This registration was previous to Cyrenius being governor of Syria"—as the word "first" is rendered in Joh 1:15; 15:18. In this case, of course, the difficulty vanishes. But it is perhaps better to suppose, with others, that the registration may have been ordered with a view to the taxation, about the time of our Lord's birth, though the taxing itself—an obnoxious measure in Palestine—was not carried out till the time of Quirinus.

3. went … to his own city—the city of his extraction, according to the Jewish custom, not of his abode, which was the usual Roman method.

4, 5. Not only does Joseph, who was of the royal line, go to Bethlehem (1Sa 16:1), but Mary too—not from choice surely in her condition, but, probably, for personal enrollment, as herself an heiress.

5. espoused wife—now, without doubt, taken home to him, as related in Mt 1:18; 25:6.

6. while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered—Mary had up to this time been living at the wrong place for Messiah's birth. A little longer stay at Nazareth, and the prophecy would have failed. But lo! with no intention certainly on her part, much less of Cæsar Augustus, to fulfil the prophecy, she is brought from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and at that nick of time her period arrives, and her Babe is born (Ps 118:23). "Every creature walks blindfold; only He that dwells in light knows whether they go" [Bishop Hall].

7. first-born—So Mt 1:25; yet the law, in speaking of the first-born, regardeth not whether any were born after or no, but only that none were born before [Lightfoot].

wrapt him … laid him—The mother herself did so. Had she then none to help her? It would seem so (2Co 8:9).

a manger—the manger, the bench to which the horses' heads were tied, on which their food could rest [Webster and Wilkinson].

no room in the inn—a square erection, open inside, where travellers put up, and whose rear parts were used as stables. The ancient tradition, that our Lord was born in a grotto or cave, is quite consistent with this, the country being rocky. In Mary's condition the journey would be a slow one, and ere they arrived, the inn would be fully occupied—affecting anticipation of the reception He was throughout to meet with (Joh 1:11).

Wrapt in His swaddling—bands,

And in His manger laid,

The hope and glory of all lands

Is come to the world's aid.

No peaceful home upon His cradle smiled,

Guests rudely went and came where slept the royal Child.

Keble

But some "guests went and came" not "rudely," but reverently. God sent visitors of His own to pay court to the new-born King.

Lu 2:8-20. Angelic Annunciation to the ShepherdsTheir Visit to the Newborn Babe.

8. abiding in the fields—staying there, probably in huts or tents.

watch … by night—or, night watches, taking their turn of watching. From about passover time in April until autumn, the flocks pastured constantly in the open fields, the shepherds lodging there all that time. (From this it seems plain that the period of the year usually assigned to our Lord's birth is too late). Were these shepherds chosen to have the first sight of the blessed Babe without any respect of their own state of mind? That, at least, is not God's way. "No doubt, like Simeon (Lu 2:25), they were among the waiters for the Consolation of Israel" [Olshausen]; and, if the simplicity of their rustic minds, their quiet occupation, the stillness of the midnight hours, and the amplitude of the deep blue vault above them for the heavenly music which was to fill their ear, pointed them out as fit recipients for the first tidings of an Infant Saviour, the congenial meditations and conversations by which, we may suppose, they would beguile the tedious hours would perfect their preparation for the unexpected visit. Thus was Nathanael engaged, all alone but not unseen, under the fig tree, in unconscious preparation for his first interview with Jesus. (See on Joh 1:48). So was the rapt seer on his lonely rock "in the spirit on the Lord's Day," little thinking that this was his preparation for hearing behind him the trumpet voice of the Son of man (Re 1:10, &c.). But if the shepherds in His immediate neighborhood had the first, the sages from afar had the next sight of the new-born King. Even so still, simplicity first, science next, finds its way to Christ, whom

In quiet ever and in shade

Shepherds and Sage may find—

They, who have bowed untaught to Nature's sway,

And they, who follow Truth along her star-pav'd way.

Keble

9. glory of the Lord—"the brightness or glory which is represented as encompassing all heavenly visions" [Olshausen].

sore afraid—So it ever was (Da 10:7, 8; Lu 1:12; Re 1:17). Men have never felt easy with the invisible world laid suddenly open to their gaze. It was never meant to be permanent; a momentary purpose was all it was intended to serve.

10. to all people—"to the whole people," that is, of Israel; to be by them afterwards opened up to the whole world. (See on Lu 2:14).

11. unto you is born—you shepherds, Israel, mankind [Bengel]. Compare Isa 9:6, "Unto us a Child is born." It is a birth—"The Word is made flesh" (Joh 1:14). When? "This day." Where? "In the city of David"—in the right line and at the right "spot"; where prophecy bade us look for Him, and faith accordingly expected Him. How dear to us should be these historic moorings of our faith! With the loss of them, all substantial Christianity is lost. By means of them how many have been kept from making shipwreck, and attained to a certain external admiration of Him, ere yet they have fully "beheld His glory."

a Saviour—not One who shall be a Saviour, but "born a Saviour."

Christ the Lord—"magnificent appellation!" [Bengel]. "This is the only place where these words come together; and I see no way of understanding this "Lord" but as corresponding to the Hebrew Jehovah" [Alford].

12. a sign—"the sign."

the babe—"a Babe."

a manger—"the manger." The sign was to consist, it seems, solely in the overpowering contrast between the things just said of Him and the lowly condition in which they would find Him—Him whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, "ye shall find a Babe"; whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, "wrapt in swaddling bands"; the "Saviour, Christ the Lord," lying in a manger! Thus early were these amazing contrasts, which are His chosen style, held forth. (See 2Co 8:9.)

13. suddenly—as if only waiting till their fellow had done.

with the angel—who retires not, but is joined by others, come to seal and to celebrate the tidings he has brought.

heavenly host—or "army," an army celebrating peace! [Bengel] "transferring the occupation of their exalted station to this poor earth, which so seldom resounds with the pure praise of God" [Olshausen]; to let it be known how this event is regarded in heaven and should be regarded on earth.

14. Glory, &c.—brief but transporting hymn—not only in articulate human speech, for our benefit, but in tunable measure, in the form of a Hebrew parallelism of two complete clauses, and a third one only amplifying the second, and so without a connecting "and." The "glory to God," which the new-born "Saviour" was to bring, is the first note of this sublime hymn: to this answers, in the second clause, the "peace on earth," of which He was to be "the Prince" (Isa 9:6)—probably sung responsively by the celestial choir; while quickly follows the glad echo of this note, probably by a third detachment of the angelic choristers—"good will to men." "They say not, glory to God in heaven, where angels are, but, using a rare expression, "in the highest [heavens]," whither angels aspire not," (Heb 1:3, 4) [Bengel]. "Peace" with God is the grand necessity of a fallen world. To bring in this, and all other peace in its train, was the prime errand of the Saviour to this earth, and, along with it, Heaven's whole "good will to men"—the divine complacency on a new footing—descends to rest upon men, as upon the Son Himself, in whom God is "well-pleased." (Mt 3:17, the same word as here.)

15. Let us go, &c.—lovely simplicity of devoutness and faith this! They are not taken up with the angels, the glory that invested them, and the lofty strains with which they filled the air. Nor do they say, Let us go and see if this be true—they have no misgivings. But "Let us go and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." Does not this confirm the view given on Lu 2:8 of the spirit of these humble men?

16. with haste—Compare Lu 1:39; Mt 28:8 ("did run"); Joh 4:28 ("left her water-pot," as they do their flocks, in a transport).

found Mary, &c.—"mysteriously guided by the Spirit to the right place through the obscurity of the night" [Olshausen].

a manger—"the manger," as before.

17. made known abroad—before their return (Lu 2:20), and thus were the first evangelists [Bengel].

20. glorifying and praising God, &c.—The latter word, used of the song of the angels (Lu 2:13), and in Lu 19:37, and Lu 24:53, leads us to suppose that theirs was a song too, probably some canticle from the Psalter—meet vehicle for the swelling emotions of their simple hearts at what "they had heard and seen."

Lu 2:21. Circumcision of Christ.

Here only recorded, and even here merely alluded to, for the sake of the name then given to the holy Babe, "Jesus," or Saviour (Mt 1:21; Ac 13:23). Yet in this naming of Him "Saviour," in the act of circumcising Him, which was a symbolical and bloody removal of the body of sin, we have a tacit intimation that they "had need"—as John said of His Baptism—rather to be circumcised by Him "with the circumcision made without hands, in the putting off of the body [of the sins] of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11), and that He only "suffered it to be so, because thus it became Him to fulfil all righteousness" (Mt 3:15). Still the circumcision of Christ had a profound bearing on His own work—by few rightly apprehended. For since "he that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law" (Ga 5:3), Jesus thus bore about with Him in His very flesh the seal of a voluntary obligation to do the whole law—by Him only possible in the flesh since the fall. And as He was "made under the law" for no ends of His own, but only "to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Ga 4:4, 5), the obedience to which His circumcision pledged Him was a redeeming obedience—that of a "Saviour." And, finally, as "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law" by "being made a curse for us" (Ga 3:13), we must regard Him, in His circumcision, as brought under a palpable pledge to be "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Php 2:8).

Lu 2:22-40. Purification of the VirginPresentation of the Babe in the Temple-Scene There with Simeon and Anna.

22, 24. her purification—Though the most and best copies read "their," it was the mother only who needed purifying from the legal uncleanness of childbearing. "The days" of this purification for a male child were forty in all (Le 12:2, 4), on the expiry of which the mother was required to offer a lamb for a burnt offering, and a turtle dove or a young pigeon for a sin offering. If she could not afford a lamb, the mother had to bring another turtle dove or young pigeon; and, if even this was beyond her means, then a portion of fine flour, but without the usual fragrant accompaniments of oil and frankincense, as it represented a sin offering (Le 12:6-8; 5:7-11). From the intermediate offering of "a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons," we gather that Joseph and the Virgin were in poor circumstances (2Co 8:9), though not in abject poverty. Being a first-born male, they "bring him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord." All such had been claimed as "holy to the Lord," or set apart to sacred uses, in memory of the deliverance of the first-born of Israel from destruction in Egypt, through the sprinkling of blood (Ex 13:2). In lieu of these, however, one whole tribe, that of Levi, was accepted, and set apart to occupations exclusively sacred (Nu 3:11-38); and whereas there were two hundred seventy-three fewer Levites than first-born of all Israel on the first reckoning, each of these first-born was to be redeemed by the payment of five shekels, yet not without being "presented (or brought) unto the Lord," in token of His rightful claim to them and their service (Nu 3:44-47; 18:15, 16). It was in obedience to this "law of Moses," that the Virgin presented her babe unto the Lord, "in the east gate of the court called Nicanor's Gate, where she herself would be sprinkled by the priest with the blood of her sacrifice" [Lightfoot]. By that Babe, in due time, we were to be redeemed, "not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ" (1Pe 1:18, 19), and the consuming of the mother's burnt offering, and the sprinkling of her with the blood of her sin offering, were to find their abiding realization in the "living sacrifice" of the Christian mother herself, in the fulness of a "heart sprinkled from an evil conscience," by "the blood which cleanseth from all sin."

25. just—upright in his moral character.

devout—of a religious frame of spirit.

waiting for the consolation of Israel—a beautiful title of the coming Messiah, here intended.

the Holy Ghost was—supernaturally.

upon him—Thus was the Spirit, after a dreary absence of nearly four hundred years, returning to the Church, to quicken expectation, and prepare for coming events.

26. revealed by the Holy Ghost—implying, beyond all doubt, the personality of the Spirit.

should see not death till he had seen—"sweet antithesis!" [Bengel]. How would the one sight gild the gloom of the other! He was, probably, by this time, advanced in years.

27, 28. The Spirit guided him to the temple at the very moment when the Virgin was about to present Him to the Lord.

28. took him up in his arms—immediately recognizing in the child, with unhesitating certainty, the promised Messiah, without needing Mary to inform him of what had happened to her. [Olshausen]. The remarkable act of taking the babe in his arms must not be overlooked. It was as if he said, "This is all my salvation and all my desire" (2Sa 23:5).

29. Lord—"Master," a word rarely used in the New Testament, and selected here with peculiar propriety, when the aged saint, feeling that his last object in wishing to live had now been attained, only awaited his Master's word of command to "depart."

now lettest, &c.—more clearly, "now Thou art releasing Thy servant"; a patient yet reverential mode of expressing a desire to depart.

30. seen thy salvation—Many saw this child, nay, the full-grown "man, Christ Jesus," who never saw in Him "God's Salvation." This estimate of an object of sight, an unconscious, helpless babe, was pure faith. He "beheld His glory" (Joh 1:14). In another view it was prior faith rewarded by present sight.

31, 32. all people—all the peoples, mankind at large.

a light to the Gentiles—then in thick darkness.

glory of thy people Israel—already Thine, and now, in the believing portion of it, to be so more gloriously than ever. It will be observed that this "swan-like song, bidding an eternal farewell to this terrestrial life" [Olshausen], takes a more comprehensive view of the kingdom of Christ than that of Zacharias, though the kingdom they sing of is one.

34, 35. set—appointed.

fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against—Perhaps the former of these phrases expresses the two stages of temporary "fall of many in Israel" through unbelief, during our Lord's earthly career, and the subsequent "rising again" of the same persons after the effusion of the Spirit at pentecost threw a new light to them on the whole subject; while the latter clause describes the determined enemies of the Lord Jesus. Such opposite views of Christ are taken from age to age.

35. Yea, &c.—"Blessed as thou art among women, thou shalt have thine own deep share of the struggles and sufferings which this Babe is to occasion"—pointing not only to the continued obloquy and rejection of this Child of hers, those agonies of His which she was to witness at the cross, and her desolate condition thereafter, but to dreadful alternations of faith and unbelief, of hope and fear regarding Him, which she would have to pass through.

that the thoughts, &c.—Men's views and decisions regarding Christ are a mirror in which the very "thoughts of their hearts" are seen.

36. Anna—or, Hannah.

a prophetess—another evidence that "the last times" in which God was to "pour out His Spirit upon all flesh" were at hand.

of the tribe of Aser—one of the ten tribes, of whom many were not carried captive, and not a few reunited themselves to Judah after the return from Babylon. The distinction of tribes, though practically destroyed by the captivity, was well enough known up to their final dispersion (Ro 11:1; Heb 7:14); nor is it now entirely lost.

lived, &c.—she had lived seven years with her husband (Lu 2:36), and been a widow eighty-four years; so that if she married at the earliest marriageable age, twelve years, she could not at this time be less than a hundred three years old.

37. departed not from the temple—was found there at all stated hours of the day, and even during the night services of the temple watchmen (Ps 134:1, 2), "serving God with fastings and prayer." (See 1Ti 5:5, suggested by this.)

38. coming in—"presenting herself." She had been there already but now is found "standing by," as Simeon's testimony to the blessed Babe died away, ready to take it up "in turn" (as the word rendered "likewise" here means).

to all them, &c.—the sense is, "to all them in Jerusalem that were looking for redemption"—saying in effect, In that Babe are wrapt up all your expectations. If this was at the hour of prayer, when numbers flocked to the temple, it would account for her having such an audience as the words imply [Alford].

39. Nothing is more difficult than to fix the precise order in which the visit of the Magi, with the flight into and return from Egypt (Mt 2:13-23), are to be taken, in relation to the circumcision and presentation of Christ in the temple, here recorded. It is perhaps best to leave this in the obscurity in which we find it, as the result of two independent, though if we knew all, easily reconcilable narratives.

40. His mental development kept pace with His bodily, and "the grace of God," the divine favor, rested manifestly and increasingly upon Him. See Lu 2:52.

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].

42. went up—"were wont to go." Though males only were required to go up to Jerusalem at the three annual festivals (Ex 23:14-17), devout women, when family duties permitted, went also, as did Hannah (1Sa 1:7), and, as we here see, the mother of Jesus.

when twelve years old—At this age every Jewish boy was styled "a son of the law," being put under a course of instruction and trained to fasting and attendance on public worship, besides being set to learn a trade. At this age accordingly our Lord is taken up for the first time to Jerusalem, at the passover season, the chief of the three annual festivals. But oh, with what thoughts and feelings must this Youth have gone up! Long ere He beheld it, He had doubtless "loved the habitation of God's house and the place where His honor dwelt" (Ps 26:8), a love nourished, we may be sure, by that "word hid in His heart," with which in afterlife He showed so perfect a familiarity. As the time for His first visit approached, could one's ear have caught the breathings of His young soul, he might have heard Him whispering, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem!" (Ps 42:1; 87:2; 122:1, 2). On catching the first view of "the city of their solemnities," and high above all in it, "the place of God's rest," we hear Him saying to Himself, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King: Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God doth shine" (Ps 48:2; 50:2). Of His feelings or actions during all the eight days of the feast not a word is said. As a devout child, in company with its parents, He would go through the services, keeping His thoughts to Himself. But methinks I hear Him, after the sublime services of that feast, saying to Himself, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (So 2:3, 4).

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.

44. sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances—On these sacred journeys, whole villages and districts travelled in groups together, partly for protection, partly for company; and as the well-disposed would beguile the tediousness of the way by good discourse, to which the child Jesus would be no silent listener, they expect to find Him in such a group.

45, 46. After three sorrowing days, they find Him still in Jerusalem, not gazing on its architecture, or surveying its forms of busy life, but in the temple—not the "sanctuary" (as in Lu 1:9), to which only the priests had access, but in some one of the enclosures around it, where the rabbins, or "doctors," taught their scholars.

46. hearing … asking—The method of question and answer was the customary form of rabbinical teaching; teacher and learner becoming by turns questioner and answerer, as may be seen from their extant works. This would give full scope for all that "astonished them in His understanding and answers." Not that He assumed the office of teaching—"His hour" for that "was not yet come," and His equipment for that was not complete; for He had yet to "increase in wisdom" as well as "stature" (Lu 2:52). In fact, the beauty of Christ's example lies very much in His never at one stage of His life anticipating the duties of another. All would be in the style and manner of a learner, "opening His mouth and panting." "His soul breaking for the longing that it had unto God's judgments at all times" (Ps 119:20), and now more than ever before, when finding Himself for the first time in His Father's house. Still there would be in His questions far more than in their answers; and if we may take the frivolous interrogatories with which they afterwards plied Him, about the woman that had seven husbands and such like, as a specimen of their present drivelling questions, perhaps we shall not greatly err, if we suppose that "the questions" which He now "asked them" in return were just the germs of those pregnant questions with which He astonished and silenced them in after years: "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? If David call Him Lord, how is He then his Son?" "Which is the first and great commandment?" "Who is my neighbour?"

49. about my Father's business—literally, "in" or "at My Fathers," that is, either "about My Father's affairs," or "in My Father's courts"—where He dwells and is to be found—about His hand, so to speak. This latter shade of meaning, which includes the former, is perhaps the true one, Here He felt Himself at home, breathing His own proper air. His words convey a gentle rebuke of their obtuseness in requiring Him to explain this. "Once here, thought ye I should so readily hasten away? Let ordinary worshippers be content to keep the feast and be gone; but is this all ye have learnt of Me?" Methinks we are here let into the holy privacies of Nazareth; for what He says they should have known, He must have given them ground to know. She tells Him of the sorrow with which His father and she had sought Him. He speaks of no Father but one, saying, in effect, My Father has not been seeking Me; I have been with Him all this time; "the King hath brought me into His chambers … His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me" (So 1:4; 2:6). How is it that ye do not understand? (Mr 8:21).

50, 51. understood not—probably He had never expressly said as much, and so confounded them, though it was but the true interpretation of many things which they had seen and heard from Him at home. (See on Joh 14:4.) But lest it should be thought that now He threw off the filial yoke, and became His own Master henceforth, and theirs too, it is purposely added, "And He went down with them, and was subject unto them." The marvel of this condescension lies in its coming after such a scene, and such an assertion of His higher Sonship; and the words are evidently meant to convey this. "From this time we have no more mention of Joseph. The next we hear is of his "mother and brethren" (Joh 2:12); whence it is inferred, that between this time and the commencement of our Lord's public life, Joseph died" [Alford], having now served the double end of being the protector of our Lord's Virgin—mother, and affording Himself the opportunity of presenting a matchless pattern of subjection to both parents.

52. See on Lu 2:40.

stature—or better, perhaps, as in the Margin, "age," which implies the other. This is all the record we have of the next eighteen years of that wondrous life. What seasons of tranquil meditation over the lively oracles, and holy fellowship with His Father; what inlettings, on the one hand, of light, and love, and power from on high, and outgoings of filial supplication, freedom, love, and joy on the other, would these eighteen years contain! And would they not seem "but a few days" if they were so passed, however ardently He might long to be more directly "about His Father's business?"




Advertisements