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Monday: The Childhood of Jesus — 12 Comments

  1. Here is what the Bible says about Jesus childhood:

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

    And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

    But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

    And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

    And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

    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.

    And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:42-52 KJV

    What do we learn from this? There are a couple of things worth noting. Jesus came from a family that was literate. He had learned to read and write. (There are other texts that support that). We should not forget that his uncle, John the Baptist's father, was a priest. He impressed people even at age 12. He was subject to his parents.

    There is often a lot of speculation about Jesus' childhood, but I think we have sufficient in scripture to tell us whaat we need to know.

    • Maurice, I believe that what Jesus demonstrated by His adult life tells us the most about His home training, especially since He did not attend the schools of the rabbis. (we should consider Prov 22:6)

      How often is it said of Him that "no one speaks like this man!", or that He spoke with "authority"(confidence, assurance, conviction, etc)? With both Jesus and John the baptist, we can see the possibilities with home-schooling.

  2. Did the common Jews in Jesus time learn the Scriptures from listening to them being read out every Sabbath or did they have the opportunity to read for themselves. Were copies available in the homes? Was memorization of Scriptures common practice?
    I note that Revelation starts by saying:

    Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near Rev 1:3

    We are so blessed to have the Scriptures available at our finger tips, let us read them over and over so that they are engraved in our hearts and minds.

    • For most Jews the only access to the scriptures was at the local synagogue. Ownership of scriptures was limited mainly to Synagogues, given that the rules for copying them were very strict and the process very labour intensive. However there is some evidence to suggest that the Septuagint or passages from it were copied for personal use. The memorisation of scripture was very much part of the Jewish synagogue education system.

      I know that Ellen White states that Jesus did not attend the rabbinical schools but I think she was referring to the "big-name" rabbinical schools which were much more philosophical in their education. He would have at least made use of the local synagogue school. Remember that his Uncle was a priest (cohen) and would have had connections. The surprise of Jesus encounter with one of these schools in the Temple that he could hold his own, even at 12 years of age.

      • If I remember correctly, Jesus did not attend any of the schools at any age, and even refused to go when His parents were urging Him to attend at the demand of the local rabbis.

        At least that is how I remember reading it a number of times.

        Only in this manner could He have avoided the tainted teachings of His day. So, He had to have the scriptures available since it is clear He was very familiar with them.
        His cousin John also did not attend the schools.

    • Per Moses, the LORD instructed Israel:

      Deu 6:4-9 ISV  "Listen, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  (5)  You are to love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  (6)  "Let these words that I'm commanding you today be always on your heart.  (7)  Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up.  (8)  Tie them as reminders on your forearm, bind them on your forehead,  (9)  and write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates."

      After the return from exile Rabbinical Schools were establish to make sure all the boys were given instruction to avoid another exile.

      Because His parents complied with the Law in various stages of His life, and His ability to hold a discussion with the 'teachers' at the age of 12, it is believed that He went through the first two stages but not the third.

      I discovered an interesting research paper titled: "Jesus and Rabbinical Schools : Implications for Adventist Education" by Ikechulwu M Oluikpe

      It appears that all boys went through the 1st two levels but only those who wanted to become a Rabbi (teacher) or Scribe went through the 3rd level.
      Among other things Oluikpe explains the 3 levels of Education for Jewish boys, normally at the synagogue:
      From age 5/6 to 10, a child was enrolled in Beth Sefer (House of the Book) where the focus was reading, writing and memorization of the Torah
      From 10 -12, a child joined the Beth Talmud (House of Learning) where the focus was memorizing and studying oral interpretations of the Torah and the rest of the Jewish Scripture in question & answer sessions.
      After 12/13 gifted students joined the Beth Midrash (House of Study) where the focus was understanding and applying the Torah and oral tradition to daily life in a more intense way. They concentrated on rabbinic interpretations and applications to daily life. Mark 7:3-5 Here the young man became a disciple of a famous rabbi, like Paul learned from Gamaliel, without this level of study a person was not considered formally educated.
      For those that are interested it might be worthwhile to read the whole research paper.

  3. Jesus’ childhood is a wonderful testimony to God’s loving care extended to all who love Him. God carefully set the physical stage for the acceptance of the Savior - His Son embodied by Jesus, even before He was born - therewith making sure that His earthly parents knew of their place in this last chapter of the unfolding plan of mankind’s Salvation. He employed his Heavenly agents to bring His message of the yet to be born Savior to the chosen parents to prepare them to provide the earthly care for him – Luke1:46-55.

    The teaching and learning of spiritually discerned Truth is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. The charge to prepare the physical environment conducive to the child Jesus’ 'spiritual learning' was given into the hands of his parents; it was based on their Love of their God.
    As adults, we encounter this same ‘classroom environment’ – the Spirit teaches the spiritually receptive student as he seeks the presence of the Lord in the setting of this physical environment; ultimately maintaining this environment by his/her love for his/her God.
    The child Jesus was placed in the most secure environment God could possibly approve of – a loving couple dedicated, submitted and supported by doing the Will of God.

    They were willing to submit their own lifes' interests to the need of the child when they were given directives to secure Jesus’ safety and maintain it with their prolonged sojourn in Egypt; all prompted by the real, life-threatening dangers to the child due to King Herod’s quest to protect his earthly reign.

    Already the child Jesus could express the real reason why He was with us – He was here to be about the Father’s business – Luke2:49. His parents, aware about His calling to be the Messiah, the from heaven sent King for spiritual Israel, might not have fully understood the spiritual implications of this designation.
    Ellen White: “He did not seek the schools of the rabbis. He needed not the education to be obtained from such sources; for God was His instructor.”
    Jesus, the physical form of the Son of God sent from Heaven to safe mankind, has given us His, the Father's, Spirit to direct our earthly 'Walk by Faith': 2Cor.1:21,22; 2Cor.5:5; Eph.1:13,14; Eph.1:17-23 –
    Eph.1:22,23 – “…and gave him to be the head over all things to the church; which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

  4. Such a love was demonstrated by our Creator. He became a man like us and felt every type of pain a man could possibly feel! All because of His love for the very creatures who denied Him!

  5. Our granddaughter, KeAna’s response to a question from her academy bible class. (Our daughter shared this with us)

    What specifically can you learn from Jesus’ childhood?

    One thing for me that I learned is that I should be happy to help my parents. I think I complain too much about my chores, so I should be happier with what I have, and be more willing to help my parents. Jesus showed us how to honor our fathers and mothers. I think the crazy thing is that Jesus respected and served His earthly parents, even though they were imperfect beings and probably lost their temper sometimes. It’s kind of funny to think about, Mary or Joseph losing their temper or having a rough day or something, and Jesus just sitting there all calm. I wonder what Jesus would think in those moments, what He would say to them to maybe calm them down or help them find peace.

  6. One day, my three-year-old daughter slipped away from our attention. We lived on my grandfather‘s old dairy farmland surrounded by thick tree lines, and wide open fields of high stands of grass, alfalfa and weeds. We began searching for her and calling out numerous times with no response. We then panicked, doing a sweep around the house with no luck. We called our nearby neighbors to go out into the fields and see if they could find her among the tall growth. After what seemed an eternity of searching and utter distress, there, behind a nearby shed in between some very tall weeds was our little girl playing on a small tricycle. She was missing for perhaps 30 minutes. When I read about Jesus’ parent’s experiencing the same dilemma not knowing his whereabouts in the big city for three days, I don’t have to imagine their panic and desperation at that time. Although we could not scold our blameless daughter because of her young age, my wife and I were presented with a hard lesson-learned associated with the guilt of our apparent neglect. We read in today’s lesson Luke 2:48...behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.“ I hope that losing sight of Jesus would invoke the same “sorrow” described here in this passage and that similarly experienced once in my life.


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