Jesus’s “Lost” Years?

When [Jesus] was twelve years old, [Jesus, Mary, and Joseph] went up to the festival [in Jerusalem], according to the custom. After the festival was over, while they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but [Mary and Joseph] were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  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.”

Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.   And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.  (Luke 2:41-52)


Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.  (Luke 3:23)

 

Much has been made about Jesus’s supposed “lost” years.  (What happened to him when he was a teenager?  What happened to him when he was a young adult?  What happened to him during those years?)

That said, much has been speculated about what happened to him during those supposed  “lost” years (at times, people have suggested that he traveled to Egypt and India, lived with the Essenes, traveled to Persia and Atlantis, etc.).

In order to answer this question, we need to consider how the ancients defined what we would call a “biography”.

(n.b., our modern word “biography” is derived from two Greek terms:  bios, meaning “life”, and graphia, meaning “to write”.  It goes without saying that a biography is a written account of a person’s life.)

Getting back to what the ancients regarded as a biography, they had a completely different concept of it than we do today.  Most of us today tend to define a biography as a written, sequential listing of the events of a person’s life (“This event happened … after that, this event, this event, this event, and this event happened, followed by this event”).

The ancients, on the other hand, were much more interested in the character of a person (What did they believe?  How did they live?  What did they teach, if anything?  What made them tick?).

This is why the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) have long stood as biographies of Christ, even though none of them agree with each other (Christ names Peter the head of the church in the gospel of Matthew, but not in Mark, Luke, or John.  Christ re-instates Peter as the head of the church — this after Peter denied knowing Christ three times prior to his crucifixion — in the gospel of John, but not in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Matthew and Luke contain nativity narratives — both of which differ significantly — while Mark and John do not.  All of the gospels contain wildly differing accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.)

The short answer to the question that I posed above (What happened during Jesus’s “lost” years?) is thus:  nothing that the ancients would’ve found particularly interesting.  In all likelihood, he grew up living the typical life of a Jewish boy of that era, working alongside his father Joseph and going to the synagogue, where he learned the Hebrew scriptures that he himself — as a grown man in his early thirties — would someday preach.

 

“Love is Patient … ” — What Paul REALLY Meant

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

More than a few couples have tied the knot to these words that were penned by the Apostle Paul.

One could easily conclude that Paul intended this to be a meditation on love … a paean to wedded bliss.

Contrary to what one might see inscribed on the decorative plaques staring back at you from the shelves at your local Christian gift store, that was NOT Paul’s intention at all.

Consider Paul’s audience:  the Corinthians.  Back in Paul’s day, Corinth was Sin City.  If there was a rule, the people of Corinth broke it.  If there was a sin, the people of Corinth committed it.  (Drunkenness?  Check.  Incest?  Check.  Idol worship?  Check.  Sexual immorality?  Check.  Jealousy, Quarreling, and Infighting?  Check, Check, and Check.  The list goes on … )

Earlier in 1 Corinthians 3:2-3, Paul vents his frustration with the church in Corinth:

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.

If 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 should be read as anything, it should be read more in the manner of an exasperated teacher having to correct a group of wayward schoolchildren than as an ode to romance.

Paul is REALLY having to get down to basics here (“A is for Apple, B is for Banana, C is for Cat … “).  Anything more advanced would completely go over the heads of the sinning, stubborn, recalcitrant church in Corinth.

Something to consider the next time you hear this scripture passage recited at a wedding ceremony.

New Cloth For Old

nativity

[Jesus said], “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

Luke 5:36

 

When Christ said this, he was referring to himself.

Jesus Is the New Cloth.

A little history:  centuries prior to Jesus’s birth, the old House of David was irretrievably broken.  Almost to a man,  the books of 1st and 2nd Kings describe the kings that comprised the Davidic line — Saul, David, Solomon, Ahab, et al. — as having done “evil in the eyes of the Lord”.  (They took pagan wives, worshiped pagan gods, performed pagan rituals. etc.  If there was a commandment, the House of David broke it.)

King David himself had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers (David went so far as to order Uriah killed on a suicide mission).

Prior to Jesus’s birth, the throne of David (and the kingdom of Israel) had long since ceased to exist.  It was now nothing more than an isolated province of the Roman Empire (long after it had been conquered by the likes of Assyria and Babylon).

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:30-33, 35

When the Holy Spirit entered Mary’s womb on that fateful day, God was making a clean break with the past.  Gone was the sin, the evil, and the corruption that had plagued the old Davidic line.  God himself was re-establishing the line that would ultimately produce Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Even though Joseph was descended from the House of David (Luke 1:27), Jesus the Messiah could not be fathered by him (the preceding bloodline was simply too corrupt).

Joseph himself was now nothing more than a humble carpenter — there was absolutely nothing about him that gave any hint of royal lineage.

God — The Holy One Himself — was wiping the slate clean.  He was starting over with a whole new, sacred, pure, and undefiled  piece of cloth (trying to physically attach Jesus to the old bloodline would’ve been impossible; as Jesus himself said in the passage from Luke that I quoted from above, “the patch from the new will not match the old”).

What God for the world on that fateful day, he can do for you as well.  During this holiday season, turn to Him.  During this season of new beginnings, let God give YOU a fresh start (“Behold, I make all things new!” — Revelation 21:5).

Merry Christmas and God Bless.