Christianity 201

May 17, 2017

The Childhood and Adolescent Years of Jesus

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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CEB Luke 2:39 When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. 40 The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him…

…51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. 52 Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.

CEB Matthew 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. 23 He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He [Jesus] will be called a Nazarene.

Following a link I’d bookmarked some time ago, I ended up back at Lightsource, but this time on the page Jesus.org with the title Answering The Mysteries of Jesus Christ. This devotional quoted from a book by Alfred Edersheim which is considered one of the best sources for understanding the world at the time of Jesus.  Click the title below to read at source.

Jesus’ Childhood: The Missing Years?

The gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell us little about the childhood of Jesus. We know only a handful of events: the family’s escape to Egypt (Matthew 2:14) and return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:39); His increasing wisdom (Luke 2:40); and His visit to the Temple in Jerusalem at age 12 and obedience to His parents (Luke 2:41).

It should be noted that further accounts of Christ’s childhood were included in the so-called apocryphal gospels, written much later by those seeking to fill in the “gaps.” However, these “gospels” present a child who is sullen and uses miracles for entertainment rather than doing the will of God. Neither of these attributes fits with the character of Christ.

While the authentic details of Jesus’s childhood are sparse, we can learn a great deal from the country and area of His youth: Israel and Galilee. While Jerusalem emphasized the intricate and convoluted study of the Old Testament and teachings of the rabbis, Galilee’s distance from the city afforded a somewhat milder approach that had little respect for legalism. For this reason and because of dialect differences, the Galileans were often seen as unlearned. “Galilean—Fool!” became a common expression.

We can expect that Jesus grew up in an atmosphere permeated with the teachings and words of the Old Testament. He also likely attended a Jewish school by age six, since these were common even in remote areas.

Beyond this, the content of His parables and teachings may suggest the everyday sights of His youth: shepherds with their sheep, marriage parties in celebration, foxes in their lairs, tax collectors at the door, widows at work looking for lost coins, bakers in the middle of kneading bread, and the poor in the street.

The one aspect we can be sure of is that Jesus’s youth served to fulfill an important part of His ministry. That is, though fully God, He grew up as any human does.

~ Adapted from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (Book II, Chapters IX and X).


So what about all those things attributed to Jesus that are not found in the four canonical gospels (the synoptics plus John)? A quick online search brought us to these two articles:

  • The first deals with The Infancy Gospel of Thomas which is seen as distinct from the Gospel of Thomas itself. Mostly, it describes the content.
  • The second deals with The Gospel of Thomas itself. From the beginning it quotes two verses, describing them as bizarre, which should give you an idea of the writer’s take on its authenticity.

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