christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

luke 2, the birth of Jesus of nazareth

Read Luke 2 at the Bible Gateway.

These are the chiastic structures I have found in this chapter:

Luk 2:1-39
1a) Luk 2:1-5, Joseph’s departure from Nazareth:
— 1) Luk 2:1-3, The decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered;
–2) Luk 2:4-5, Joseph went up from Galilee, with Mary his betrothed wife, out of Nazareth to Bethlehem the city of David;
1b) Luk 2:6-20, The birth of Jesus:
— 1) Luk 2:6-7, When her days for delivery were completed, she brought forth her firstborn Son;
–2) Luk 2:8-20, The testimony of two witnesses: the announcement of the angels and the testimony of the shepherds;
central axis) Luk 2:21, “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb;”
2b) Luk 2:22-38, The dedication of Jesus:
— 1) Luk 2:22-24, When her days for purification were completed, they brought her firstborn Son to the Temple;
— 2) Luk 2:25-38, The testimony of two witnesses: the blessing of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess;
2a) Luk 2:39, Joseph’s return to Nazareth:
— 1) Luk 2:39a, So when they had performed all things according to the Law;
— 2) Luk 2:39b, They returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.

Luk 2:40-52
1a) Luk 2:40, And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him;
1b) Luk 2:41-42, When He was twelve years old, they went to up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover;
central axis) Luk 2:43-50, Jesus in the Temple about His Father’s business;
2b) Luk 2:51, He went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject to them;
2a) Luk 2:52, Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Luk 1 and 2 are parallels of each other. The birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus of Nazareth are both announced by angels. Their mothers are women who should not be able to conceive in the natural. Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, Elizabeth was barren and advanced in age. Mary was a virgin who had not known a man. Both sets of parents were told by the angel what name to name the boys at their circumcision. Both sets of parents complied. Prophetic words and blessings accompanied the boys’ start in life. Both children grew strong in the Lord with His favor and grace resting on them.

That is the pattern that Scripture sets. But then, Scripture breaks the pattern, when Jesus goes to the Temple at twelve years of age. This section is so important, that what happens at the Temple is the central axis of a chiastic structure:

His parents sought Him in Jerusalem, and Jesus responded to them, “Why did you seek Me?”

All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding, and His parents did not understand the saying He spoke to them.

Mary told Him His father (Joseph) and she had been anxiously seeking Him, and He replied that He must be about His Father (God’s) business.

They found Him after three days. Three is a sign of Messiah in Scripture. He was hidden from sight for three days, then when He was found alive, He astonished the teachers of the Law with His wisdom, understanding, and answers — what the Son called, being about His Father’s business. Likewise, Messiah was hidden in the tomb for three days, and when He was found alive (raised from the dead), it became apparent to all that He was the Son of God.

In other words, the central axis is establishing the identity of Jesus beyond the identity of John the Baptist. They both had miraculous births, but John was a prophet — and while unique among the prophets of Israel, still one of their number. Jesus was the Son of the Living God, the Promised Seed of the Woman Israel, who even at twelve years of age, knew not only who His Father was and what His business, purpose, and destiny was, and was acting on it, but the twelve- year- old Living Word had a greater and deeper grasp of the Scriptures than the most ancient and learned Torah teachers, rabbis, and elders in Israel.

And finally, the twelve- year- old Jesus, who had greater understanding and wisdom than His earthly parents, who knew His Father’s business and was ready to be about it, also showed His true nature and identity in His obedience and honoring of His parents, in returning with them and subjecting Himself to them, as is commanded in Torah.

God does not set Himself above His Word, but He Himself is subject to His Word and obeys His own Word. His humility and submission to truth, then, is a defining divine characteristic.

I suppose, if someone were to ask, if God can do anything, then can He violate His Word, the answer would be no. God does not violate His Word because His Word is spoken from His heart and His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and to violate it, He would have to violate His own character and nature. He will not do it.

That God cannot do something evil, such as commit unfaithfulness or a violate truth, is not an admission of weakness, however; but a declaration of strength, majesty, and greatness. It is evidence that He is God, not proof that He is not. :)


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