The first twenty verses of Luke chapter 2 is one of the most beloved passages of Scripture. Our family memorised it together, and we still recite it together every Christmas morning. Who does not love the story of Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, no room in the inn, the Baby in the manger, the shepherds and the angels?
But of course, the story doesn’t stop when “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” The story goes on to the Cross, to an empty tomb, to a return in power and might, a great white Throne, and to an eternity, whether in the Lake of Fire or in the New Heavens and New Earth.
In light of where we now know that the story goes, the remainder of Luke’s second chapter has an interesting sub-theme. Each of the events recorded is important in its own right, of course, but there’s an important sub-theme connecting them all. Note the following excerpts from Luke 2:
22 …according to the law of Moses….
23 As it is written in the law of the Lord….
24 …according to that which is said in the law of the Lord….
27 …after the custom of the law….
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord….
42 …they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
I have written before about the way Luke uses repetition to emphasise a point (Luke’s Early Chapters — Key Concepts). It is obvious he’s doing the same again here, with perhaps the focus particularly on verse 39, which I put in bold.
There’s really no mistaking it — the Holy Spirit is telling us that when the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, He sent Him into a family that was very, very serious about keeping the Law. In fact, they went beyond the simple requirements of the Law, for there was no requirement for Mary to attend at the feasts, and the practice of the Jews was that the males began to come at the age of 13 — yet Luke tells us Jesus was at Jerusalem for the Passover at the age of 12.
(I’m doing this one in two parts, more to come….)