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Luke 2:49

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

How is it … - “Why” have ye sought me with so much anxiety? “Mary” should have known that the Son of God was safe; that his heavenly Father would take care of him, and that he could do nothing amiss.

Wist ye not - “Know ye not.” You had reason to know. You knew my design in coming into the world, and that design was “superior” to the duty of obeying earthly parents, and they should be willing always to give me up to the proper business for which I live.

My Father‘s business - Some think that this should be translated “in my Father‘s house” - that is, in the temple. Jesus reminded them here that he came down from heaven; that he had a higher Father than an earthly parent; and that, even in early life, it was proper that he should be engaged in the work for which he came. He did not enter, indeed, upon his public work for eighteen years after this; yet still the work of God was “his” work, and always, even in childhood, it was proper for him to be engaged in the great business for which he came down from heaven.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It is for the honour of Christ that children should attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must turn back again. Those that would recover their lost acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and calling.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

How is it that ye sought me? - Is not this intended as a gentle reproof? Why had ye me to seek? Ye should not have left my company, when ye knew I am constantly employed in performing the will of the Most High.

My Father's business? - Εν τοις του πατρος μου, My Father's concerns. Some think that these words should be translated, In my Father's house; which was a reason that they should have sought him in the temple only. As if he had said, Where should a child be found, but in his father's house? This translation is defended by Grotius, Pearce, and others; and is the reading of the Syriac, later Persic, and Armenian versions. Our Lord took this opportunity to instruct Joseph and Mary concerning his Divine nature and mission. My Father's concerns. This saying, one would think, could not have been easily misunderstood. It shows at once that he came down from heaven. Joseph had no concerns in the temple; and yet we find they did not fully comprehend it. How slow of heart is man to credit any thing that comes from God!

Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 155.3

Jesus was our example in all things, and He was an earnest and constant worker. He commenced His life of usefulness in childhood. At the age of twelve He was “about his Father's business.” Between the ages of twelve and thirty, before entering upon His public ministry, He led a life of active industry. In His ministry Jesus was never idle. Said He, “I must work the works of him that sent me....” The suffering who came to Him were not turned away unrelieved. He was acquainted with each heart and knew how to minister to its needs. Loving words fell from His lips to comfort, encourage, and bless, and the great principles of the kingdom of heaven were set before the multitudes in words so simple as to be understood by all. TMK 155.3

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 28.1

Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? Luke 2:49. TMK 28.1

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 128.2

God stands toward His people in the relation of a father, and He has a father's claim to our faithful service. Consider the life of Christ. Standing at the head of humanity, serving His Father, He is an example of what every son should and may be. The obedience that Christ rendered, God requires from human beings today. He served His Father in love, with willingness and freedom. “I delight to do thy will, O my God,” He declared: “yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Christ counted no sacrifice too great, no toil too hard, in order to accomplish the work which He came to do. At the age of twelve He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” (Luke 2:49). He had heard the call, and had taken up the work. “My meat,” He said, “is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). HP 128.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 75-83

This chapter is based on Luke 2:41-51.

Among the Jews the twelfth year was the dividing line between childhood and youth. On completing this year a Hebrew boy was called a son of the law, and also a son of God. He was given special opportunities for religious instruction, and was expected to participate in the sacred feasts and observances. It was in accordance with this custom that Jesus in His boyhood made the Passover visit to Jerusalem. Like all devout Israelites, Joseph and Mary went up every year to attend the Passover; and when Jesus had reached the required age, they took Him with them. DA 75.1

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