The Gospels record very little about Jesus Christ’s life between his birth and baptism. Matthew states that by the time the Wise Men appear in Bethlehem, following his birth, Jesus is no longer an infant but a child, suggesting that Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived in the town of his birth for sometime, maybe as long a two years: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11, emphasis added). Matthew continues his story as Joseph took Mary and the “young child” to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14). Both Matthew and Luke agree that at some point Joseph, Mary and Jesus eventually moved to Nazareth at an early age (Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39-40). The only hint about the intervening years, until he began his ministry, is a brief story about Jesus Christ’s journey to Jerusalem when he was twelve’s years of age. Luke notes: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feat of the Passover. 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 days’ 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 hat 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, they 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 2:41-52). Luke continues his story by informing us about Jesus Christ’s appearance at the River Jordan, when he was “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). We can only assume that during the period between his birth in Bethlehem and his youth in Nazareth, Jesus lived a rather quiet life as many other Jewish young boys did in similar circumstances.
“From this singular story we may draw a few limited conclusions. Jesus’ childhood is likely to have been in many respects like that of other children of devout Jewish parents-a period of training, growth, development, and learning, especially about the faith. The truly remarkable element in the story is not a revelation that Jesus works miracles, but that Jesus has an extraordinary knowledge of and relationship with God, something that astounded his parents and his teachers. This is an important point, for it is this special and intimate relationship with the Father that comes to light at crisis moments in Jesus; adult life (baptism, transfiguration, the garden of Gethsemane, on the cross). This feather characterized Jesus’ life throughout its all-too-brief span.”
Ben Witherington III is Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminart in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Ben Witherington III, New Testament History: A Narrative Account (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 92.
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.