ALL ABOUT CHRIST – Part 4 (By Janine Mick Wills)
JESUS’ RELIGIOUS TRAINING
Jesus’ first religious training would have taken place at Mary’s knee. She would have taught Him to chant the Psalms and instructed Him in the rudiments of the Hebrew law and history (Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother). From the preparation of the Passover, He would have been told the story of redemption Read Ex. 12:23-27). The Jew took the religious training of their children seriously (Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Nazareth probably had its own synagogue, if not, there surely must have been a place Jesus and His family worshiped. Joseph would have attended and taken His part in the worship, as a man of Israel. The children sat and listened with their mothers and the other women. Certainly, Jesus knew the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (The Psalms were the hymnbook and prayer book of the Jewish people). He quoted from them or alluded to them on numerous occasions, and discussed them, when called upon to do so, with familiarity that surpassed the scribes of His day.
“The religious training of children began early, with all of the children taking part in the Sabbath and Passover festivals. Boys would attend the synagogues and schools regularly. Josephus, the Jewish historian is the first to mention schools for children. According to the Talmud, the first school for children was established about 00 B.C. By the time of Christ, such schools were common. Reading and writing were practiced from early times (Isaiah 8:1; 10:19). As soon as the children could speak distinctly religious training began with great stress being laid on the Torah, or the Law of Moses. The boys in the family were also trained in agriculture or trades. As a boy, Christ learned carpentry (From All the Children of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, D. D. ).
For a possible account of Jesus’ education as a youth, read The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders pages 24, 25 (I highly recommend this book. You can get a used copy from Amazon.com for around $4.00 with S & H.
JESUS AT THE TEMPLE
Verse 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
According to Exodus 23:14-17 this was one of three feasts, which the Israelites were to observe at the Temple at Jerusalem (Passover – Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost – Feast of the Harvest, and Tabernacles – Feast of Ingathering). Of all the feasts of Israel, the Passover most beautifully foreshadowed our redemption in Jesus Christ. As an adult Christ fulfilled the very feast of which He partook of as a young man (He was the true Passover Lamb). Although the term “Passover” refers to the sacrificial animal, “Passover” is also used in the Bible as a synonym for the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover).
Verse 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
When a Jewish boy turned twelve years old, he was supposed to have matured and learned the Law of God. From that point on, the Law demanded He attend the festivals in Jerusalem. When Jesus turned twelve He took His place with the other men of Israel in the religious service. His becoming a “son of the Law” made Jesus responsible for Himself before the Law. Up until that time, Joseph had made the provision for his family through a sacrifice and gifts offered to God each year at the Passover Feast.
Verse 43 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.
The” fulfilled days” numbered eight. One was the Passover, and the other seven were the days of unleavened bread.
Verse 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
“Since it was customary for the youths of the party to travel and sleep together, Joseph and Mary were not concerned at Jesus’ absence.” (The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders).
Verse 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Can you imagine Joseph and Mary’s fear? They must have felt they had violated God’s trust of caring for His Son.
Verse 46 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.
- Day 1 – A day’s journey from Jerusalem and the discovery of Jesus’ absence
- Day 2 – The journey back to Jerusalem
- Day 3 – Discovery of Jesus in the Temple
Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the first place they should have looked – the Temple (In the court of the Temple, for Jesus, not being a Levitical priest, could not enter into the Temple itself). Jesus loved the Temple. The mere eight days He had been in Jerusalem were obviously not enough.
John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
Do we have that kind of love for God’s house?
The Jewish mode of teaching was mainly catechetical (religious teaching through questions and answers), so questioning was permitted. Was this the young Jesus’ first introduction into the traditions of the elders, which He later condemned? (Mark 7:5, 6 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me).
Verse 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
Jesus did not ask questions of which He did not know the answers. Rather His questions revealed His understanding of God and the Scriptures. During the 400 year Intertestament period, the Jewish teachers had become ignorant of God’s Word. Josephus, a Jewish historian born four years after Christ’s crucifixion, said when he was fourteen years of age, the chief priests and the principal men of the city were constantly asked for more accurate instruction in matters relating to the Law.
Verse 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed (from the Greek word ekplesso, ek-place’-so “to strike with astonishment”) and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
The anxiety of Jesus’ disappearance caused Mary to utter probably her first words of reproof to her son. She obviously did not know at this time (verse 50) only the cross could “harm” Him.
Verse 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
Jesus seemed disappointed that His earthly parents did not understand His actions. He implied they should have been less astonished at His remaining behind, then for Him to be surprised at their search for Him.
Compare “thy father” (verse 48) to “my Father” (verse 49). With this comparison Jesus disavowed any human relationship with Joseph.
Jesus did not apologize to His earthly parents for the grief He had caused them. Rather He gently but decisively admonished Mary. He was there to do God’s will and not hers. He revealed to Joseph and Mary He had a unique relationship with God and had come to earth because of Him.
Verse 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
Joseph and Mary still did not fully understand Jesus’ “mission” on earth. (Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.) Remember when Simeon told Mary in the Temple, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”?
JESUS’ SUBMISSION/OBEDIENCE TO HIS EARTHLY PARENTS
Verse 51 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.
Jesus’ acknowledgement of God as His Father could have changed His relationship with Joseph and Mary, but it did not. Instead, He chose to submit to them as any child should. From that time when He acknowledged God as His Father until the approximate age of 30, when He began His earthly ministry, Jesus performed the occupation of his foster father, Joseph: that of a carpenter (See the next section “Jesus the Carpenter”).
Jesus’ life was characterized by obedience. From His earliest years, He was obedient to His earthly parents. He was obedient to the Law. He was obedient to government (i.e. paying taxes from the money Peter retrieved from a fish’s mouth – Matthew 17:24-27). He was also obedient to His heavenly Father and even unto death.
Verse 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom (intelligence) and stature (physically), and in favour with God (spiritually) and man (socially) – all areas that we should strive to grow in.
What was he doing all that time,
From twelve years old to manly prime?
Was He then idle, or the less
About His Father’s business?
JESUS THE CARPENTER
The word carpenter is a contraction of the word “cartpenter,” or one who made carts. In Bible times the trade of a carpenter was an honorable one from which many rose to become rabbis.
Between the ages of twelve to thirty, we know nothing about Christ’s life except that He followed in Joseph’s footprints and became a carpenter (“Is not this the carpenter…? Mark 6:3a). As in the case of other Jewish boys of Nazareth, Jesus learned a trade. Since Jesus submitted to Joseph as His earthly son, Jesus learned to be a carpenter under the tutelage of Joseph. Is it not ironic that Jesus learned to create with the wood He originally created? (Hebrews 11:3) The One Who fixed broken furniture would one day “fix” man’s broken soul.
Think how in the sacred story
Jesus took a humble grade,
and the Lord of life and glory
Worked with Joseph at this trade.
(From the Hymn “Sons of Labor, Dear to Jesus” by Samuel Reynolds Hole)
Christ as God – created wood
Christ as man – learned to work with wood
Christ as the God-man – died upon wood
NOTE: Some examples of Jesus’ references to woodworking and stone-working (Matthew 7:13, 24; 16:18; 21:33; Luke 14:28; 20:17).
The yokes Jesus crafted would have been superior for both the buyer and for the beasts who wore them (Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel). The “yoke” He has asked Christians to bear is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-20 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light).
As it is assumed Jesus worked for approximately eighteen years as a carpenter, His job afforded Him ample opportunity to also build the physical attributes needed for the next rigorous three-and-a-half years ahead of Him.
As J. Oswald Sanders recorded in “The Incomparable Christ”:
Jesus’ recorded journeys – and there is no reason to believe that all His journeys are included – two thousand five hundred miles
traveled on foot. He was also usually thronged with people, and always reaching, teaching, and healing.