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| Historical Background of Christ's time on earth | The Lord's Fellowship with Abraham and Jacob | Jehovah, God of the Single Mother | The Son of God and Mary's Heart | The Power of a Quiet Heart Submitted to the LORD | Our Gracious Lord as a Child | God's calls all Men to Serve Him | The Temptation of Christ | Jesus,  our Compassionate High Priest | Jesus, Friend of Sinners | Jesus meets Nicodemus | Jesus Meets a Blind Man | Paul, an Imperfect Man, Used by God | Power of Gospel and Friendships | Jesus Affirms Faith | What to Expect When Jesus Touches a Life

Our Gracious Lord as a Child.

Joseph's Family setting.

The home of Joseph was a godly home.  Mary, a very young mother, was well versed in the scriptures - quite an intelligent mother.  Jesus' education began in the home - Mary must have shared her most private thoughts with Jesus as a child.  We have two occasions where the scriptures recorded that  Mary treasured or kept special events surrounding Jesus in her heart - one found in Luke 2:19 and the other in 2:51.  The first one was when Jesus was very young - under 2 years old and the other when Jesus was 12.  Mary was, of course, the ideal mother - likely sharing the Lord's wisdom as the virtuous woman as revealed in Proverb 31:26.

Jesus was "man a very man" and was in His humanity a genius - quite precocious as a child and would have quickly picked up on Mary's sharing her thoughts with Him.   She would have certainly shared in the customary training of the scriptures, especially those that were brought to light by Simeon.  Mary would have made the connection with Simeon's remarkable  reference to Jesus being a "light unto the Gentiles" and Isaiah 42:6 & 7.  These scriptures along with many others would have been shared by Mary with Jesus - mom and Son.  Mary would, of course, have shared the wonderful heavenly appearance of the angelic hosts to the shepherds of the  Watch Tower of Migdal Eder.  The rabbinical belief of the announcement of the Messiah being proclaimed from the Tower of the Flock would not been lost in her conversation with her Son.   All of these precious moments between Mary and Jesus were the building blocks that would lead up to the next remarkable glimpse that we have into Jesus' young life.

Jesus' educational background. 

Shepard sheds a little light into the elementary education that Jesus would experienced:  "The Jewish child's education began in his home.  In every Jewish household the child was taught a sort of elementary catechism, the Shema (Deut. 6:4, 9; Num 11:13-21; 15:37-41), by his mother as soon as he could speak.  The rule of minute religious instruction in a Jewish home was well organized, constituting a vital element in the the child's education.  The Mezusah attached to the doorpost, with the name of the Most High on the outside of the little folded parchment, which was reverently touched by everyone who entered or went out followed by kissing the fingers which had touched the name, was considered a divine guard over the home.  The private and united prayers and domestic rites were impressive; the festive illumination of the house during a week in mid-winter, in commemoration of the Dedication of the Temple by Judas the Maccabee; the feast of Purim in celebration of the deliverance through Esther; the Feast of the Passover setting forth the visit of the Death Angel and Israel's going out from Egypt; followed by the Fast of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles with its strange leafy booth; all were calculated to impress the childish mind in a most extraordinary fashion."[1]

Jesus' Maturing Process.

Luke 2:40  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Jesus grew up just as any young Jewish male child.  Our passage indicates that He matured toward man-hood as a little child (Gk, paidon).  This would meant that Jesus became increasingly mature in the physical sense - there were no physical handicaps, no physical marrs that would have hindered Him in His normal responsibilities as a young boy growing up into the job as His father's heir to his business.  The reference to being strong in spirit could refer to His personality but especially referred to His spiritual  and mental perspicacity.  This was later revealed with His capacity to know the hearts of men.  Many construe this to be a breakthrough of the Divine nature Jesus in His Hypostatic union, but He clearly understood the wickedness of the hearts of men as a young man who was sinless, Himself, but witness the sinful nature of those around Him.  The term "...and the grace of God was upon him..."  should not bring up visions of legitimacy of some of the fanciful childhood accounts of Jesus' miraculous acts during His childhood as found in the apocryphal writings.  We will see this grace in a few moments as we view the remarkable account of Jesus in the Temple at the age of 12.  The LORD was certainly with Him - all that He did prospered as it did with other young men whose life was completely dedicated to the Lord.  Joseph, son of Jacob comes to mind.  Joseph was in some ways typical of the life of Jesus and because of his trust in the Lord, everything he did prospered in his hand.  This was recognized by the Egyptian ruler and eventually placed him in a position second only to the Pharaoh, himself.  I think this is the flavor of this phrase.  Jesus, being a wholly dedicated young man to the LORD was blessed in a special way by the LORD and it was quite evident to others around Him.

Jesus' Step-father, Joseph, a man of God.

Joseph was, according to Matthew, a just man[2] - just - not in the sight of rabbinical legalism, but in the sight of the Lord.  The angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph several times.  The first occasion was when Joseph was trying to figure out a compassionate way to handle Mary's pregnancy.  The next appearance was to warn Joseph to flee to Egypt in order to escape Herod's murderous hands and finally, the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph to tell him to return to the land of Israel.   Quite a remarkable blessing for Joseph to be the recipient of angelic visitation not just once but three times.  Consider these angelic visits in the light of over 400 years of silence from the Lord to Israel.  Training the young Messiah would not have been just left up to Mary.  Joseph would have played an active role with his Son, especially after Jesus had been dedicated to the LORD at the age of twelve at the Temple.   The Jews prided themselves that "...the Jews were from their swaddling clothes . . . trained to recognize God as their Father and as the Maker of the world;' having been taught the knowledge (of the laws) from the earliest youth.  They bore in their souls the image of the commandments; that  'from their earliest consciousness they learned the laws, so as to have them, as it were, engraven upon the soul'"[3] After His dedication, the majority of Jesus' training would have been from Joseph as he took his Son under his wing and began to train the young "man" in the trade of being an architect / house framer.  While learning His trade, Jesus would have been like any curious intelligent son and asked that question that all young sons:  "why this"  "why that"  Joseph would have certainly shared the important event of why his family had to spend some time in Egypt - including the reference found in Matthew 2:15 "And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." Which was a clear double reference from Hosea 11:1 - an identification of Jesus, the Son of God being identified with His people who were freed from Egyptian bondage.

Young Jesus at the age of 12, visiting Jerusalem at the feast of Passover.

Luke 2:49  "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" , NIV

The trip to Jerusalem was an exciting one for the Jewish family.  Much was happening when they arrived.  Joseph's family participated in this feast in a special way for the Lamb of God was there for the first time as a child about to become a "son of the Law."  This was an important event in Jesus' life as He was about to move on from childhood to being the heir of His father's business, learning Joseph's trade as an architect / contractor / builder of Jewish homes.  More than this - Jesus was conscious of His Father's business - that of fulfilling the Father's plan for the redemption of mankind as  the Pascal Lamb - the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.  Joseph's family traveled with other families from Nazareth - one reason for this was for security because they had to travel through areas infested with thieves and robbers.  It was not unusual that Jesus would have moved from family to family because of His friendly, gracious manner.

Upon their arrival excitement was everywhere.  Perhaps as many as a million people crowded into the city.  There was an increased fervor of nationalism in Jerusalem - excitement was everywhere an easy distraction for a young boy.  It was natural that Jesus would find Himself at the Temple.  It was traditional for the doctors of the Law to be at the Temple Terrace, where they would hold sessions of discussing the Law with the initiates who had become the sons of the Law and, of course, rabbinical tradition.  It was not unusual for young men, having become sons of the Law to be indoctrinated by these doctors in the fine points of the Law.  It was in this setting that we find Jesus asking questions and responding to the questions of the doctors - this was a normal function.  What was unusual was the conduct of this young boy.

Luke 2:46-47 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. [47] Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. NIV

Jesus had become so pre-occupied with this wonderful process of hearing from the learned doctors, who certainly knew the scriptures, especially those referring to the Feast of the Passover that He had lost all track of time.  As time passed, He became to focal point of this dialogue between the "sons of the Law" initiates and the doctors.  The Rabbinical system of thought required intense, convoluted thought processes, making connections between one passage of the scriptures with others.  A firm grasp of the Law was required - the doctors were quite amazed by this young boy's grasp of the Law and His ability to answer their, sometimes, complicated questions.   We have here a small glimpse of the person of Jesus as the gracious, precocious, very insightful young boy who was destined to become a master of the law.  It was no surprise that later all of Israel recognized Him readily as a master of the Law (or Rabbi).  The tragedy was that most of these same doctors would reject Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Father's Son who was sent into the world to become the very means of salvation from Israel's sins.

Luke 2:51-52 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. [52] And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. . NIV

Jesus, the gracious young man.

Mary's gentle chiding with Jesus reveals a special moment between mom and Son.[4] This was more a moment of relief on Mary's part and a moment of surprise by Jesus.  For both of them it was a moment of tenderness as we look at a very special relationship between a parent of a very intelligent but obedient child and a child who had become caught up in the pursuit of His pre-occupation of a love for the word of God.  Jesus was certainly in His Kenosis - the emptying of Himself - the deliberate limiting of His divine attributes - the surprise was genuine on Jesus' part that His parents should have known where to look for Him - this was where new initiates of "the sons of the Law" would have been and certainly Jesus' parents should have known to look for Him there - simply put, Joseph and Mary had pre-supposed that Jesus was with their friends and relatives  but rather, He was where He was supposed to be - at His Father's House.  No. This was not a child who was unmindful of His obligations to His parents - it was just that He was thrilled and pre-occupied to be learning more of His Father's business, in spite of the fact that the doctors were also steeped in rabbinical myths.  Nevertheless, He left off His pre-occupation at the feet of the most learned in the Law and returned to Nazareth with His parents.

The rest of the 18 years before the inauguration into His ministry was spent as a good Son of the family of Joseph and we learn that Jesus became quite popular with both God and man.  Quite a contrast with what was to follow in the coming years as He presented Himself as the Messiah to His people.

The Tragedy of Rejection later on during Jesus' Messianic Ministry.

God had favored these learned doctors of the Law.  After 400 years of silence with no prophet, these doctors were hearing the Prophet of prophets, indeed, as a child saying "Thus saith the LORD.[5]  This was a moment that should have been prized by these doctors - just as it was by Simeon and Anna.  But no.  They were so steeped in their apostacy that only a few[6] realized Who they were seeing.  It is interesting that as long as Jesus did not represent a threat to their apostate religion and political system of rule Jesus was favored in their sight.  The moment He became the Way, the Truth and the Light - He was rejected by them.  The lesson is clear to us today.  Are we viewing Jesus as the Pop-Christ - a worldy view where He is the Son of God but has no claim on our lives or are we viewing Him as the LORD and Master of our lives.  My prayer is that our relationship with Him is the latter not the former.

1.  The Christ of the Gospels, an Exegetical Study, by J. W. Shepard, pg. 49.  See also The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Edersheim, pgs. 158-160.  The Mezusah or Mesusah was a parchment that Contained Deut. 6:4, 9; Num 11:13-21; 15:37-41 and was rolled up or folded and had the name of the Most High on the outside.  Just one of the visual aids that impressed the young Jewish mind of the importance of learning God's word. Especially emphasizing Jehovah's deliverance of Israel and His oneness.

2. Matthew 1:19  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

3. Edersheim, pg. 159.

4. Luke 2:48-50 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." [49] "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" [50] But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

5.  Read Psalm 8, especially verse 2.  Truly Jesus, as a young boy, fulfilled this passage.  Some of the doctors, knowing the scriptures as they did, would have made the connection with this Child.

6. John 3:1-2  Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. [2] He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."   Nicodemus was such a doctor of the law and was refering to the Bath Qal the voice from heaven which validated a true rabbi sent from God.  He was one of the few of these doctors of the Law who knew that Jesus was from God.  He just didn't understand spiritual matters.  Later, he did accept Jesus as Messiah - I think.