When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Up until this time, the little family had stayed in Bethlehem. It was near Jerusalem, where they knew they had to return for the baby’s dedication and the mother’s purification – they would hardly have gone back to Nazareth only to return within a few weeks! But now, they had fulfilled all that was required by the Law – they had come to Bethlehem to fulfill Caesar’s law; they had remained to fulfill the Lord’s law – both are now fulfilled. Not only was the law fulfilled, but the prophets as well, for the two elderly prophets had seen the child and made clear who he really was! Now, the family is free to return to Nazareth, in Galilee. They will journey about 9 days, on foot, to make that journey. (Note: while Matthew speaks of a flight into Egypt during the infancy of Jesus, Luke does not. Neither the flight nor the visit of the Magi are a part of the story as Luke tells it.)
In Nazareth, the child grew and became strong. Jesus was a chubby baby, a mischievous toddler, a curious school-boy – He helped his mother, and learned a trade with his father (Luke does not say here that Joseph was a carpenter). He grew and became strong and filled with wisdom. He likely surpassed the rabbi at the synagogue in the little town of Nazareth, and taught other children. And the favor of God was upon him.
The parallel with the story of John the Baptist says that he also grew, and became strong “in spirit”. But then John went into the wilderness, and Luke told us that we would hear no more of him until his ministry. To the story of Jesus’ childhood, however, Luke adds one more story – we will see tomorrow!
The photo is the hill above Nazareth.