Chapter two is bookended with two well-known stories of Jesus’ early life – his birth in Bethlehem and his visit to the Temple at twelve years old. Unlike Matthew, Luke went into great detail from the human perspective of Jesus’ birth. The 70-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was at the demand of the human emperor. The use of the manger was a result of the flood of people crowding the little village. Although prompted by the angelic announcement, the shepherds’ visit set the stage for Jesus’ association with people of all classes and statuses. (Shepherds were often treated with contempt as low-class workers.)
The rest of chapter two continues the emphasis on the requirements placed on Jesus the human. As a doctor, Luke was interested in the fact that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, according to the law of Moses. Luke alone records that Mary obeyed the law of purification forty days after Jesus’ birth. Tying directly back to the deliverance theme of chapter one, Luke recorded two more people who were blessed to have seen the young Messiah. While in the Temple for Mary’s purification sacrifice, Simeon and Anna approached the young family, pronouncing blessings on them and praise to God for the arrival of Israel’s Deliverer.
Luke concluded the detail of Jesus’ early life showing two more acts of submission. Moses’ law required that all Jewish men visit Jerusalem at specific times of the year. Luke points out that when Jesus was twelve years old, he accompanied his parents to Jerusalem for Passover. If he had already undergone the manhood ritual of the time, Jesus would have been required to attend the feast. Thus, he was obedient to the law from the very beginning. After losing him for three days, his parents were naturally upset that he had not stayed with them, although he had been safe with the rabbis in the Temple. Luke pointed out that Jesus voluntarily submitted himself to his parents’ authority and obediently returned home with them (2:51). The chapter concludes with a statement that Jesus grew physically like any other boy his age, but that he also grew in wisdom and favor with God and people.