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Bible Gem 759 - A Snap Shot of Jesus' Childhood (Luke 2:39-52)

May 7, 2019


When Jesus' parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 

There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on Him. 

Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 

When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 

After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn't miss Him at first, 

because they assumed He was among the other travelers. But when He didn't show up that evening, they started looking for Him among their relatives and friends. 

When they couldn't find Him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for Him there. 

Three days later they finally discovered Him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 

All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 

His parents didn't know what to think. "Son," His mother said to Him, "why have You done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for You everywhere." 

"But why did you need to search?" He asked. "Didn't you know that I must be in My Father's house?" 

But they didn't understand what He meant. 

Then He returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And His mother stored all these things in her heart. 

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. (Luke 2:39-52)



It is remarkable that this is all that is recorded of the infancy or teenage years of Jesus. The short account that follows of his going to Jerusalem, is all that we know of him at the beginning of his teens and for the duration of the thirty years of his life. We would like to know about Jesus' childhood. We would like to know what he was like when he was a little boy, a teenager etc. 


There are a collection popular fables and miracle stories which captivated the minds of the Middle Ages and have come down to us as the official "Infancy Gospels". These stories are fantasy stories in which Jesus is always the "super-boy" who is full of magical tricks. Jesus slides down a sunbeam or hangs his water pitcher on a sunbeam, and when the other boys try it with disastrous results, Jesus instantly and magically mends the damage; when Joseph the carpenter has a hard time fitting pieces of wood together, Jesus simply blesses them into place; when a local bully jostles Jesus in the street or breaks his sand castles with a stick, the offender is at a word from Jesus withered upon the spot; when the other kids will not play with Jesus, he turns them into goats etc.  The ProtoEvangelium of James tells how Jesus, when he was eight, walked with his family from Jericho to the Jordan, that is, right through the heart of the "Dead Sea Scrolls Country" at the very time when the communities were going full blast. On the way, we are told, young Jesus turned aside to inspect a cave where a lioness had a pair of cubs. The rest of the company were terrified, but the lioness and her cubs first trotted along down to the Jordan and then on out into the desert. The Pseudo-Matthew has Jesus approaching a cave of dragons, who instantly obey him, while all the animals of the desert then accompany the family on their journey. 


You may wonder why I included the above Pseudepigrapha readings 

(False Writings). I know of them; they are not new but they are false. They have been known about for centuries but in these days they seem to be making a comeback. It seems popular to refer to such stories. But they are false writings that were written by someone other than who were claimed to have written them. All have some kind of "strange" factor,  mystical, magical and FICTITIOUS.  


The purpose of the Gospel writers was to give an account of Jesus' “public ministry” not his private life. Hence, they say little of Him in regard to His first years. The focus of Jesus' time on earth was the reason for which he was born. Jesus was not a proto form of Harry Potter or Super Boy or a trainee worker of magic. He was and He is the Saviour of the World who came to seek and to save the lost.  


The truth about Jesus

He was wise, pure, pleasing to God and to people around. That is a skill and ability in itself. Jesus was deeply skilled in the knowledge of the divine law. He grew in that wisdom and in spirituality. (Literally: and in the Spirit)  Some interpret that to mean in gifts of the Spirit, but that is reading into the text something that was not intended. What is clear is that Jesus excelled in wisdom from an early age - exhibiting an extraordinary understanding, and “wise” interpretation of the Law of God. The text also adds "and in the grace of God". Did Jesus need “grace”, God's unmerited favor like other sinners? No, here it means no more than favour. God was pleased with him and blessed him.


At the age of 12 we are told that Jesus was taken to attend the Festival in Jerusalem. At this age every Jewish boy was soon to become skilled in handling the law in preparation for his bar mitzpah “a son of the commandments”.  A girl at the age of twelve years, and a boy at the age of thirteen years were required to memorize the whole of the Torah.  Though they were not obliged to fast on the day of atonement, until they were 12 or 13, still they were made to get used to it two or three year's before.  At the age of nine or ten, they had to train to fast; gradually increasing the hours. On the day a boy turned twelve, he was expected to fast the whole day.  The parents did not  leave their little children behind, but instead brought them to the synagogues, so that they might be "ready in the commandments". Accordingly at this age Jesus was taken up for the first time to Jerusalem, at the passover season, the most important of the three annual festivals. I wonder what His  feelings were when He first went into the temple.  He no doubt loved being in God’s house, the place where He was meant to dwell. ( viz Ps 26:8).  Of His feelings or actions during all the eight days of the feast not a word is said. 


We are left to ponder these early years on our own. Just be careful not to get too fanciful about it, or look into false and deceptive sources.



Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate. Sidney Mohede



If you're the smartest in your group, it's time to find a new one!


Two great ways to learn: reading + association with smarter people. Enlarge your world view! Rick Godwin








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