Monday: Jesus’ Childhood
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Had Jesus bypassed childhood, arriving as a full-fledged adult on planet Earth, serious questions might be raised regarding His ability to identify with children. Christ, however, developed as all children must, skipping none of the developmental stages associated with growth and maturity. He understands teenage temptations. He underwent the frailties and insecurities of childhood. Christ encountered those challenges that, in their own sphere, all children face. His experiencing childhood was another crucial way in which our Savior revealed His true humanity.

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Read Luke 2:40-52. What does this teach about Jesus’ childhood?

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

According to the texts, Jesus acquired wisdom. God bestowed grace on Him. From Christ’s boyhood temple encounter during the Passover visit we can see that Jesus had deep scriptural wisdom. Rabbinical teachers were markedly impressed by Jesus’ questions and answers.

God surely used multiple childhood experiences to shape that attractively flawless character. Perhaps the discipline of learning carpentry skills, the attention of devoted parents, regular exposure to Scripture, and His interactions with Nazareth’s townspeople formed the foundation of His early upbringing. In the end, however remarkable a child Jesus was, He had still been—as we all have been—a child.

The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother’s knee.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 70. Dwell on the incredible implications of those words. What do they teach us about the humanity of Christ?

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Monday: Jesus’ Childhood — 17 Comments

  1. This lesson has caused me to think quite a lot about the environment that surrounded Jesus' childhood. It is so easy for us to think of Jesus' divinity and forget His humanity. We often have a tendency to think that He was privileged with special information directly from Heaven that none of us ever have which apparently was not the case. That doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit wasn't with Him but rather that He had to learn the same way we have to.

    Considering that, to me, the most amazing thing to contemplate are His parents, Joseph and Mary. The fact that they had a full set of scrolls (Old Testament) says a lot about them. A set like that would have been very expensive - more like buying a new car today. That was the value they placed on the Scriptures and faith in God. It also says a lot about the value they had in the religious training of their children.

    The other amazing thing is that Mary was able to read and instruct her son in the scriptures. Women back then generally were not given an education except in home economics by their mothers, so where did she learn all of that?

    So, to me it seems that God chose Joseph and Mary as the best parents that could be found to raise Jesus in the very corrupt environment of Nazareth (Jn 1:46).

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  2. I very much doubt that any family in Palestine at the time of Christ would have had a full set of the Old Testament in their home. Scrolls were painstakingly created by hand and were generally considered sacred objects, much more expensive to produce that a car. The most likely place to find a scriptural scroll would be a synagog, and my guess is that only the well appointed synagogs would have had a full set. The other place where scripture scrolls were likely to be found were scholastic communities such as the Essenes, who appeared to have made a religion of copying scripture.

    Having said that though. I suspect that there were quite a few people in Palestine who were at least reading literate. Obviously Jesus could read as it is recorded that he was given the task of reading from scripture when he went to the synagog on Sabbath.

    One should also remember that in those days, verbal story-telling and recitation was the standard way of communicating historical facts and cultural identity. Even today when Jews celebrate the Passover it is a time for the retelling of their escape from Egypt. I am sure that both Mary and Joseph were story tellers of the highest caliber.

    None of this should detract from the role that Mary played in the development of the child Jesus.

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    • Maurice, I think for the vast majority of Jews owning scrolls was indeed too expensive and never considered. The question is, however, about sacrifice and priorities. How much would any of us sacrifice if we knew our son was the Messiah? We also don’t know how much was left over from the gifts of the wise men after they returned from Egypt.

      Even though Nazareth was small, they apparently had a synagogue and it had a set of scrolls according to Lk 4:16-17 but since Jesus never attended the synagogue schools (Jn 7:15) according to Ellen White, (Desire of Ages, p 70.1) how could He have learned what was in it. I suppose it is possible that He could have had access to the scriptures on the Sabbath but to me that is doubtful at best since women and children were normally separated from the male congregation during services and was not directly involved in them. Besides during the first century children below the age of twelve in Jewish society were basically considered below the status of a woman and certainly would not have been allowed to even touch those “sacred objects” without close supervision. That basically leaves oral tradition as the only source and what He heard during the Sabbath services but most likely that would have been general and laced with traditional Jewish interpretation. While Mary could see right from wrong and would have instructed Jesus concerning that when it came to questions of deep theology she was basically like most other Jews in her society. We can certainly see through the Bible that she didn’t understand His mission and many times sided with authority within and outside the family on issues of religious orthodoxy.

      That of course raises a big question concerning Jesus’ visit to the temple at the age of twelve when He stumped and amazed the scribes and Pharisees at His deep understanding and knowledge of Scripture (Lk 2:46-47) to the point that they could not effectively argue against Him. As Ellen White states, “Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word” (Desire of Ages, p 70.2). So how was He able to master such knowledge before the age of twelve without any direct access to the scrolls? From His parents? I doubt that. Certainly they would know key passages that were often recited and rabbinical interpretation but not to the extent that would have stopped scholars at Jerusalem. That would require real study and you can’t do that a minute this day and a minute the next day. He had an “intimate acquaintance” with scripture and intimate means more than a surface skimming. Even though I cannot quote scripture concerning what literature Joseph and Mary had it would be logical to assume that they had at least some. Further, it seems that Ellen White understood that Jesus learned directly from scripture at home or in its vicinity and that would imply ownership of scrolls. Here is a sampling of what she thought:

      From childhood He acted independently of the rabbinical laws. The Scriptures of the Old Testament were His constant study (Desire of Ages, p 84.1)

      Jesus seemed to know the Scriptures from beginning to end, and He presented them in their true import. The rabbis were ashamed to be instructed by a child. (Desire of Ages, p 85.1)

      As a little child He was daily at His mother’s knee taught from the scrolls of the prophets. In His youth the early morning and the evening twilight often found Him alone on the mountainside or among the trees of the forest, spending a quiet hour in prayer and the study of God’s word. (Education, p 185.1)

      “the hour of study at His mother’s side, with the open scroll of Scripture” (The Ministry of Healing, p 365.3; read the context)

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      • Tyler I do not think we need to assert that Jesus family owned a set of OT scrolls to achieve his scriptural knowledge and literacy. The Jews had a tradition of learning the scriptures and reciting them orally. Even today orthodox Jews still commit passages of scripture to memory (maybe they are not allowed to use a search engine on the Internet). Jews were encouraged to write scripture over their doors and on the walls of their houses. But ownership of a set of scrolls of the OT is a completely different ball game. They would cost much more than a car and were considered to be community treasures. Even if they had the money the existence of a privately owned set of OT scrolls would have been a highly notable event in Nazareth.

        I am sure that Jesus had access to the scrolls in his community synagog. Scripture shows that Jesus was respected enough to be asked to read from his local synagog scrolls. That in itself indicates that he was known there. I do not think that he would have had to belong to a rabbinical school to have access.

        None of this detracts from the effort that Mary and Joseph went to to educate their son. She was active in encouraging him to grow and develop.

        Like(1)
      • I truly appreciate this discussion and the provided references, for this May surely arise in my class discussion. I would like to suggest this thought. Nothing is to hard for our Heavenly Father to provide for His Children whenever we go to Him in prayer. He will supply our every need. We see that in the gifts of the Wise men. In my experience, my Heavenly Father provided me with a Christian education based on His leading and trusting in Him. He provided for Jesus and his scriptural training, also.

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  3. Tyler so do i dwell on divinity than humanity, am always like he was the son of God, he has been their fron the begining and he knows it all,etc. but then it comes to mind that just like i he was surrounded by an unclean/sinful environment, he grew in stature and was prone to death(matthew 2) that makes him more human than God, so he as a child followed the laws of God that his mother taught him, maybe now we have already lost the chance to be like christ as a child but lets help the next generation to live like christ as a child

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  4. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    From the reading I realised that in all things one has to be humble. In luke 2 : 49-52, though he asked his parrent why they were seaching for him because he was safe in his fathers house and doing his work, he did not disobey them. He followed them on the journey. We should be foucs in worshipping our God and at the same time we should be obey and respect others.

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  5. I have a hard time w/this, Jesus not telling his parents, where he was going to go. My child would of been grounded for not telling us what he was doing, and have'n made us travel a whole day w/out him. To me this was being disobedient. Mary even scolded him for his behavior. I'd like to hear more discussion on this, there could be a whole sermon on this topic.

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  6. William, I have to differ here w/U, if U read Luke 2:41-50 it tells the story, it was time to leave and he didn't get w/his family's company (group) to go, instead he went to the temple, and his parents thought he was the family group, after traveling for a days journey, they discovered he wasn't w/them, so they returned & looked for him 3 days. His parents didn't try to make it look like it was his fault, it was his fault he wasn't w/the family, he went to the temple on purpose, rather than getting w/the family to go home. w/out telling them what he was going to do. Please read the story again. When he told them, he was about his fathers business, they didn't understand his statement even. Mary scolded him for his action, so obviously she thought he needed recommended. So had he been disobedient?

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  7. Evie, they all went to the temple not just Jesus. When they left they left without Him as He tarried or stayed behind. It was the parents responsibility to get Him and take them with Him but they did not. You say "He went to the temple on purpose." They all went to the temple on together but did not all leave the temple together. That was the parent's fault for not getting Him and making sure He was with them when they left. If you read, "The Passover Visit" in Desire of Ages it will make things more clear.

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    • [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

      William you are right Desire Of Ages -pg 81" And when their anxiety was relieved, they had not censured themselves, but had cast the blame upon Him" - we must be wary not to always lay the blame on the children as sometimes we parents are to blame. Look at pg 83 "If Joseph and Mary had stayed their minds upon God by meditation and prayer, they would have realized the sarcedness of their trust, and would not have lost sight of Jesus. By one day's neglect they lost the Saviour; but it cost them 3 days of anxious search to find Him" We cannot afford to lose sight of our children and the youth in the church is the lesson i get from this section.

      Like(2)
  8. Evie, William;
    I believe the issue seems to be over whether Jesus was disobedient or not. I don't believe He was disobedient because that would infer that He was given some sort of explicit instructions by His parents. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of this, so therefore, both parties were confused... He stating He was doing His father's business, and His parents being concerned/upset at His not joining the group upon leaving the city. If you look further into the story you will see that Mary's admonition made an impression on Him.(see Luke 2: 51-52). Hope this helps.

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  9. Thanx for this conversation William, I went to the DA and read the whole story about Jesus & the temple scene. It says in DA 83.4 we are to let our imagination grasp the scene. So here is mine. After they found Jesus, Mary reproofed him, she was being very human. As any mother would/should do. As they got home & are carrying on the normal life again, they sat down as a family & discussed their time at the Passover, and Jesus explained to the family, what had taken place. And they understood better what was happening there. I imagine Mary probably listened to Jesus, and said to him, Oh, I get it, you weren't disobeying, but w/my human mind I thought you were.
    I have enjoyed this conversation very much, it has brought much light to my understanding also.

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  10. Tyler Cluthe, thank you so much for the dissection on the subject of Jesus parents owing a scroll. I like the way you defend your position, by having reference and not "here what we say". I will encourage other members to brings reference in there discussion and not just what they think. unless it is a testimony. God bless you Tyler, and thank you so much for the enlightenment on the this subject.

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