Luke 2:51
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(51) Was subject unto them.—There was, therefore, in the years that followed, no premature assumption of authority—nothing but the pattern of a life perfect in all its home-relationships. In such a household as that of the carpenter of Nazareth, this subjection must, in the nature of things, have involved much manual and menial work—a share in the toil alike of the workshop and the house.

His mother kept all these sayings.—The repetition of words like those of Luke 2:19 is significant. The twelve years that had passed had not changed the character of the Virgin Mother. It was still conspicuous, more even than that of Joseph, for the faith which accepted what it could not understand, and waited patiently for the solution of its perplexities.

Luke 2:51. And he went down with them to Nazareth — That he might not seem to encourage disobedience in children, by withdrawing himself in that weak age from under the government of his parents, he very willingly retired with them into the obscure city of Nazareth, where for many years he was, as it were, buried alive. Doubtless he came up to Jerusalem to worship at the feast three times a year: but whether he ever went again into the temple to dispute with the doctors there, we are not told; it is, however, not improbable that he might. But we learn here, what it is more important that all children should know, namely, that he was subject to his parents. Though his parents were poor and mean, though his father, so called, was only his supposed father; yet he was subject to them; though he was strong in spirit and filled with wisdom, nay, though he was in a peculiar and proper sense the Son of God most high, yet he was subject to his human parents: how then will they answer it to God who, though ignorant, foolish, weak, and wretched, yet are disobedient to their parents? But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart — She was deeply impressed with them, and thought much upon them, though she did not perfectly understand them. Doubtless she expected that hereafter they would be explained to her, and she should not only fully comprehend their meaning, but derive important instruction from them.

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.Went down with them - Down from Jerusalem, which was in a high, mountainous region.

Was subject unto them - Performed the duty of a faithful and obedient child, and not improbably was engaged in the trade of Joseph - that of a carpenter. Every Jew was required to learn some trade, and there is every reason to think that our Saviour followed that of his reputed father. And from this we learn:

1. That obedience to parents is a duty. Jesus has set an example in this that all children should follow. Though he was the Son of God, and on proper occasions was engaged in the great work of redemption, yet he was also the "son of Mary," and he loved and obeyed his mother, and was "subject" to her.

2. It is no dishonor to be a mechanic, or to be brought up in an obscure employment. Jesus has conferred honor on virtuous industry, and no man should be ashamed of industrious parents, though poor, or of a condition of life that is far from ease and affluence. Industry is honorable, and virtuous poverty should not be regarded as a matter of reproach. The only thing to be ashamed of, in regard to this matter, is when people are idle, or when children are too proud to hear or speak of the occupation of their parents, or to follow the same occupation.

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 [1541]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. We left him at Nazareth, after Mary’s purification, Luke 2:39; we find him at Nazareth now at twelve years old. We shall now read no more of him till Luke 3:23, when he came to be about thirty years of age. What he did in the mean time is a business of too much curiosity for us to inquire, and of very little significance to us if we knew. Some think he wrought with his father upon his trade. As I cannot tell how to prove it, so I know nothing against it. It is not likely he was sent to any of the schools of their prophets, as he who could argue with the doctors pertinently at twelve years of age, and to whom the Spirit was given not by measure, had no need of their instructions: so their academies were not such as we can reasonably think that Joseph and Mary should seek any education for him in them; and I know no reason why we should think, that he who abhorred not the womb of the virgin, nor a stable, nor a manger, should abhor the works of an honest vocation, and not much more abhor an idle life. But we dispute about these things in vain, being such as to which we can never be satisfied (God having hidden them from our knowledge); what is for our instruction is told us, he was subject unto his parents. This teacheth the greatest and highest mortals to honour their fathers and mothers; which (saith the apostle) is the first commandment with promise. Solomon honoured his mother, and behold a greater than Solomon is here, paying his homage also both to the womb that bare him, and to his (supposed) father that provided for him, and protected him.

But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. Mary was no forgetful hearer, some things she did not yet clearly understand, but she kept them in her heart; and those who do so as to God’s word shall in time understand them.

And he went down with them,.... From the temple, and from Jerusalem, which were on high ground:

and came to Nazareth; where he, and his parents, had lived ever since their return from Egypt:

and was subject unto them; for though he thought fit to let them know, or, at least, put them in mind, that he had a Father in heaven, whose business he came about, and must do, and therefore did not judge it necessary to ask their leave to stay at Jerusalem on that account; yet, as man, and willing to set an example of filial subjection to parents, he went along with them, and showed all dutiful respect unto them, yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to their commands, living with them, and working under them, and for them: and so he continued till he was about thirty years of age:

but his mother kept all these sayings, or things; for this relates not only to the words of Christ, but to the whole history of his staying behind them at Jerusalem, of his sitting among the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions, to the astonishment of all. These things she treasured up, and preserved,

in her heart; that is, in her memory; so the word is used in Jewish writings. It is reported of R. Meir (f), that "he went to intercalate the year in Asia, and there was no Megilla (the book of Esther) there, and he wrote it, "out of his heart", (i.e. out of his memory,) and read it.

(f) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 18. 2.

{9} And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

(9) Christ, very man, is made like us in every way except sin.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 2:51. κατέβη, He went down with them, gentle, affectionate, habitually obedient (ὑποτασσόμενος), yet tar away in thought, and solitary.—διετήρει: she did not forget, though she did not understand.

51. with them] We may infer from the subsequent omission of Joseph’s name, and from the traditional belief of his age, that he died shortly after this event, as the Apocryphal Gospels assert.

to Nazareth] In many respects there was a divine fitness in this spot for the human growth of Jesus—“as a tender plant and a root out of the dry ground.” Apart from the obscurity and evil fame of Nazareth which were meant to teach lessons similar to those of which we have just spoken, we may notice (i) its seclusion. It lies in a narrow cleft in the limestone hills which form the boundary of Zabulon entirely out of the ordinary roads of commerce, so that none could say that our Lord had learnt either from Gentiles or from Rabbis. (ii) Its beauty and peacefulness. The flowers of Nazareth are famous, and the appearance of its inhabitants shews its healthiness. It was a home of humble peace and plenty. The fields of its green valley are fruitful, and the view from the hill which overshadows it is one of the loveliest and most historically striking in all Palestine.

was subject unto them] “He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant,” Php 2:7; Isaiah 53:2. With the exception of these two verses, the Gospels preserve but one single word to throw light on the Life of our Lord, between His infancy and His baptism. That word is “the carpenter” in Mark 6:3, altered in some MSS. out of irreverent and mistaken reverence into “the son of the carpenter.” They shew that (i) our Lord’s life was spent in poverty but not in pauperism; (ii) that He sanctified labour as a pure and noble thing; (iii) that God looks on the heart, and that the dignity or humility, the fame or obscurity, of the outer lot is of no moment in His eyes. Romans 14:17-18.

Luke 2:51. [Εἰς Ναζαρὲτ, to Nazareth) In that place, wherein men were supposing that nothing good resided, He who was the only good man was now staying.—V. g.]—ὑποτασσόμενος, subject) of His own free will. Marvellous was the subjection of Him, to whom all things are subject. Even previously He had been subject to them; but this is expressly mentioned now, when it might seem that He could have by this time exempted Himself from their control. There was not even vouchsafed to the angels such an honour as was vouchsafed to the parents of Jesus.—αὐτοῖς, unto them) After this passage there is no mention of Joseph; so that it is probable that Joseph died a short while after, and that Jesus experienced the trials to which orphans are subjected. See Mark 6:2; John 2:12. The Theol. du Cæur, Part i. pp. 9, 10, has marvellous things respecting S. Joseph.—διετήρει) So the LXX. Genesis 37:11, διετήρησε τὸ ῥῆμα.

Verse 51. - And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth. The question of Mary, and the quiet grave answer of the Child Jesus, were all that seems to have taken place. It served, no doubt, to bring back to Mary's mind what had long passed, and the memory of which for her was beginning somewhat to fade. This was, no doubt, one of the uses of the temple scene, but it had other and deeper purposes to serve. It was then, perhaps, as we have already reverently surmised, in the gradual development and growth of the Redeemer, that consciousness who he really was first dawned upon "the Child Jesus." And was subject unto them. This recital of the temple scene, the meeting with the great rabbis there, the few words of surprise addressed by the Boy to Mary and Joseph when they sought him "sorrowing" - "as if it were possible," to use Stier's expression, for "him to be in wrong or in danger" - this recital alone breaks the deep silence which shrouds the first thirty years of "the Life." For some eighteen years after that visit to Jerusalem Jesus appears to have lived and toiled as a carpenter at Nazareth, with Joseph and Mary while they both lived, with Mary and his halfsisters and brothers when Joseph was dead. Justin Martyr, living a century and a half later, speaks of the ploughs and yokes the Master's own hands had fashioned during float long quiet pause in his life. Why, it is often asked, were not these years spent in Jerusalem and in the temple neighborhood, in the center of busy life and active Jewish thought? Godet suggests an answer which, if not exhaustive, is at least satisfactory: "If the spiritual atmosphere of Nazareth was heavy, it was at least calm; and the labors of the workshop, in the retirement of this peaceful valley, under the eye of the Father, was a more favorable sphere for the development of Jesus than the ritualism of the temple and the rabbinical discussions of Jerusalem." Joseph is never again mentioned in the gospel story; the probability is that he died some time in that period of eighteen years. But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. As twelve years before, Mary - pondering in her heart - had treasured up the rough adoration of the shepherds and their strange story of what the angels said to them about her Child (ver. 19), as doubtless she had done too when the Magi laid their costly gifts before the Babe at Bethlehem, and when Simeon and Anna in the temple spoke their prophetic utterances over the Infant; so now the mother, in quiet humble faith, stored up again her Son's sayings in her heart, waiting with brave and constant patience for the hour when her God should grant her to see face to face the mysterious things she had hitherto seen only "in a glass darkly." Luke 2:51Was subject (ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος)

The participle and finite verb, denoting habitual, continuous subjection. "Even before, he had been subject to them; but this is mentioned now, when it might seem that he could by this time have exempted himself. Not even to the angels fell such an honor as to the parents of Jesus" (Bengel). Compare Hebrews 1:4-8.

Kept (διετήρει)

Only here and Acts 15:29. The preposition διά, through, indicates close, faithful, persistent keeping, through all the circumstances which might have weakened the impression of the events. Compare Genesis 37:11.

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