Jesus matured (Lk 2:52-2:52)

“Jesus increased

In wisdom

And maturity.

He increased

In grace

Before God

And men.”

 

Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις.

 

Luke said that Jesus increased or progressed (Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν) in wisdom (ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ) and maturity (καὶ ἡλικίᾳ).  He also increased in grace or favor before God and men (καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις).  In other words, Jesus matured as a human person, just as he done earlier in verse 40, and John had done in chapter 1:80.  This also had happened to the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:26.  Matthew, in his infancy story, chapters 1-2, never mentioned any growth or increase on the part of the infant child.  Jesus truly was divine and human at the same time.  In both his divine and human nature, Jesus grew or matured.

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Mary ponders this (Lk 2:19-2:19)

“But Mary

Treasured

All these words.

She pondered them

In her heart.”

 

ἡ δὲ Μαρία πάντα συνετήρει τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα συνβάλλουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς.

 

Luke said that Mary (ἡ δὲ Μαρία) treasured all these words or matters about Jesus (συνετήρει τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα).  She pondered (συνβάλλουσα) them in her heart (ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς).  Mary was very self-reflective on what was going on around her.  How would Luke know this?  Apparently, this infancy story was around before the time of Luke’s writing.  There is no question that this infancy story is written from the perspective of Mary.

 

Zechariah the priest (Lk 1:5-1:5)

“In the days

Of King Herod

Of Judea,

There was a priest

Named Zechariah.

He belonged to

The priestly order

Of Abijah.

His wife was

A descendant

Of Aaron.

Her name

Was Elizabeth.”

 

Ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἱερεύς τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας ἐξ ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά, καὶ γυνὴ αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων Ἀαρών, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Ἐλεισάβετ.

 

The first person that Luke introduced was Zechariah.  None of the other gospel writers mentioned Zechariah.  However, Luke placed him within a historical context.  This all this took place during the reign of King Herod of Judea (Ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡρῴδου βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας).  Matthew, chapter 2:1-12, had mentioned King Herod and the intriguing story of the Magi.  King Herod the Great (74 BCE-1 CE) was the Roman client king of Judea.  In fact, the Roman Senate named him King of the Jews in 40 BCE.  He built many things during his reign, including expanding the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  At his death, his kingdom was divided among his children.  There was a prophet and book of Zechariah, chapter 1:1, who lived around 520 BCE.  However, this Zechariah here (τις ὀνόματι Ζαχαρίας) was a priest (ἱερεύς), probably in Jerusalem.  He belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (ἐξ ἐφημερίας Ἀβιά), which was the 8th of the 24 divisions of priests that served in the Temple as laid out in 1 Chronicles, chapter 24:7-19.  His wife was also a daughter or descendant of Aaron (καὶ γυνὴ αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν θυγατέρων Ἀαρών), a Levite or part of the priestly class.  She was called Elizabeth (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτῆς Ἐλεισάβετ).  Thus, the action of his gospel begins with the unique story of the Jerusalem Temple priest Zachariah and his Levite wife Elizabeth.  Some biblical scholars think that this infancy story, like the infancy story of Matthew, chapter 1:18-2:23, are later additions.  They are here, so I will deal with it.

The unique perspective of Joseph

The Gospel of Matthew presented the infancy story of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, unlike the Gospel of Luke that presented the same story from the perspective of Mary. What do they have in common and what is unique. Mary and the child Jesus play a secondary role in this narration, since it was all about Joseph, the son of Jacob, the father of the child. There were certain things in common with the Luke story. Both Joseph and Mary were troubled by this pregnancy. Both had an angel come and explain that the child was from the Holy Spirit. Both were told that the name of the child would be Jesus. In both stories, the child is born in Bethlehem. Beyond that, there were some unique things to the story of Joseph in Matthew. He almost divorced Mary. He had a number of angelic dreams. He was told to go to Egypt, which he did. He then returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth in Galilee. In between, there was the strange story of King Herod and the magi. Matthew used 5 different Old Testament Hebrew prophecies to show that Jesus was truly within the Jewish prophetic tradition. Clearly, in these two opening chapters, Matthew was a Jewish scripture scholar with his use of 1 Chronicles in the genealogy and the various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Judges. Whatever sources he used for this unique perspective on the birth of Jesus, they were clearly Jewish based. Joseph was a righteous Jewish man. After this presentation, Joseph seemed to drift off the center stage in the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.