Did Baby Jesus live in Nazareth? Part 2
To read the first half of this blog, click here. This is the second half of this 2-part blog.
Matthew or Luke?
In part 1, we laid out the argument that Luke and Matthew seem to contradict each other regarding when Jesus went to Nazareth after his birth. Luke seems to say Jesus went there after the dedication in the Temple. He would have been 40 days old. Matthew tells us the family left Bethlehem for Egypt and stayed there until Herod died, before returning to Nazareth. Jesus would have been at least two-years-old. So which is right?
The answer, to me, is pretty obvious. Matthew gives us too much detail to think he hasn’t recorded an accurate history of Jesus’ birth. He gives us an understanding of Jesus’ age. He tells us the name of the ruler who reigned and died during this time. He tells us the name of the new ruler at the time of their return. These things are identifiable events, especially at the time of Matthew’s writing.
So if we understand Matthew to be correct, then what do we make of Luke 2:39? I think reading Luke 2:40 helps here:
Luke 2:39-40 – When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
What has Luke just done? He has summarized the life of Jesus in two verses. He wants to take us from the dedication of the infant Jesus in the Temple to the teaching of the near-adult Jesus in the Temple. How does he do this? He abridges Jesus’ life into these two verses.
Hence, we can understand from Luke 2:39-40 that Jesus went back to Nazareth, grew up, became strong, grew wise then ended up at the Temple again as a 12-year-old. There is no indication of time in Luke’s statement regarding Jesus’ arrival in Nazareth. He simply lets us know that he did not arrive until all of the necessary rituals prescribed by the law were fulfilled.
We Need to be Careful
Those of us who teach must take care to know we are teaching truth by doing at least the minimum research necessary. We are seeing many Bible teachers doing less than the minimum needed before they begin to teach, resulting in some terrible teachings in the Christian community. Just as sad, there are many other Bible teachers doing the bare minimum of study needed before they begin to teach.
What the Christian community needs today are Bible teachers who are taking the time to fully examine their topic before they teach it publicly. In my upcoming book, I explore 23 popular teachings that have been poorly researched by the majority of Christian teachers of our time, resulting in some terrible theology, which ends in weak faith.
If you are a teacher of the Bible, I pray you will take this as a call to research deeply everything you teach before sharing it with your disciples. If you are not a Bible teacher, I pray you will question your teacher and ensure you are learning from someone who has taken the Truth seriously.
The above Bible teaching is an obvious example of misunderstanding a text by not researching other areas of the Bible. If we are not reading our Bibles, we may never know when someone teaches us something wrong. Read the Bible every day. This ensures you can attain the knowledge needed so you can know when a teacher says something that doesn’t quite fit.
Were there any surprises in the post above? Anything you didn’t know or hadn’t heard before? Leave a comment below. God bless…