The Bible provides only a little information about Jesus Christ from the days of His infancy to His appearance for baptism by John the Baptist, when he was thirty years of age. What is known for certain is that, as an infant, Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day, according to the Law (Luke 2:21), and then went to the city of Nazareth where he grew, “and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (2:40).
Because there was not much information about the developing years of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, in the second century AD, speculative writings appeared to fill in the details of the early years of Christ. Each succeeding work was rejected by the early church.
Many of these early manuscripts were simply works of forgery, trying to give credibility to the writing by using an apostle’s name, such as The Infancy of the Gospel of Thomas. The works were found to be frivolous. For example, the story is told in The Infancy of the Gospel of Thomas that Jesus, as a child of five, made sparrows. In the Prologue we read that
“Thomas the Israelite, thought it necessary to make known to all the Gentile brothers (and sisters) all the things done by our Lord Jesus Christ in the village of Nazareth, after he was born in our region of Bethlehem.
This is the beginning:
The child Jesus was five years old. After it rained, he was playing at the ford of a flowing stream.
And stirring up the dirty waters, he gathered them into pools, and he made them clean and excellent, ordering them by word alone – and not ordering them by a deed.
Then, having taken soft clay from the mud, he formed twelve sparrows from it.
But it was the Sabbath when he did these things, and many children were with him.
But a certain Jew saw the child Jesus with the other children doing these things.
He went to Joseph his father and slandered the child Jesus, saying that he made clay on the Sabbath, which isn’t permissible, and formed twelve sparrows.
And Joseph went and rebuked him (Jesus), saying, ‘Why are you doing these things on the Sabbath?’
But Jesus clapped his hands, ordering the birds with a shout in front of all, and said, ‘Go, take flight like living beings!’
And the sparrows, taking flight, went away squawking.
And having seen this, the Pharisee was amazed, and he reported it to all his friends.”
In contrast to The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, there is a biblical narrative that speaks about the formative years of Jesus. The Bible says in Luke 2,
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
When Joseph and Mary performed all things required according to the Law of the Lord they were viewed by God as being righteous. They had fulfilled the terms of the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai and encoded in the Mosaic Law.
Do you want to be righteous in the sight of God? Then keep covenant with Him. God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. Over the centuries, God has made several important covenants. The one that is of paramount importance to us is the New Covenant set forth in the Epistle to the Hebrews in chapter 8.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
Joseph and Mary kept covenant with God under the provisions of the Old Covenant. You and I must keep covenant with God under the provisions of the New Covenant. This means receiving Jesus Christ as personal Savior, and then obeying His commandments as set forth in Scripture.
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Four summary truths are conveyed about Jesus, beginning with the fact that He passed through infancy and childhood, as other children did, yet without sin.
Gospel singer and comedian Mark Loury has some fun questions he says he would like to ask Mary someday such as,
“Did you ever have to tell Jesus to pick up His clothes, and clean up His room?”
“Did you ever tell Jesus to take His brothers and sisters outside to play because you were tired of the rowdy noises they were making?”
“Did you ever remind Jesus to wash His hands, and clean out His ears?”
While Jesus was a normal child in many ways, He was an exceptional child as well for we read how He was animated in spirit.
By the Spirit of God, the human soul of Jesus was endowed with unusual sensitivity to spiritual matters. Any form of transgression was abhorrent to Him. Theologians refer to this as, The Impeccability of Christ. Because of this, Jesus was filled with wisdom.
Much foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but that was not the case with Jesus. By the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Him, what Jesus said and did was wisely said and done. Had the word been known at the time, people would have called Jesus, precocious, meaning, “unusually advanced in development.”
40b And the grace of God was upon Him.
Grace (Gk. charis) is one of the great words of the Bible about which distinct categories can be identified.
There is Common Grace, whereby God bestows favor on all people. In Matthew 5:45, we read how the Father, who is in heaven, makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain to the just and the unjust. Because of Common Grace, individuals have life, reason, and a conscience.
There is Special Grace which is unique to some.
Some are called.
Some will be found among the elect.
Some will be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
Not everyone is justified, pardoned, or adopted into the family of God.
We might wish all to be saved.
We could rejoice if the Bible spoke of universal salvation, but it does not.
Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).
Then, there is Sanctifying Grace. Romans 8:30 explains. “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
The grace, or undeserved favor, bestowed by God on elect individuals is irresistible, efficacious, and victorious.
Every facet of the grace of God was upon Jesus, who is called the Elect One (Isaiah 42:1). Even when Jesus hung dying on the cross, He was recognized by His enemies as being the Chosen One of God (Luke 23:35).
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
Each year it was the holy habit of Joseph and Mary to travel no less than 91 miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Passover was one of three mandatory festivals to be kept by the Hebrew people each year. Passover was the first feast in the Jewish calendar year (Ex. 12:1-2). The purpose of Passover was to remind Israel of God’s redemption of His people from slavery in Egypt by the shedding of blood. Israel was redeemed in order to enjoy life, freedom, and abundance in the Promised Land.
For the Christian, Christ is our Passover, sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7). In Christ we have freedom from the tyranny of sin, life that shall never end, and the abundance of our Father’s house.
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. 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.
Because so many people were going to Jerusalem, it was common for families and friends to travel together in caravans to share collective responsibilities, including that of looking after the children.
Mary and Joseph were not concerned about the safety or location of Jesus, until they started to look for him among their families and friends.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Joseph and Mary, like all good parents, became alarmed when they did not find Jesus. There was only one course of action to take. They must return the 20 to 25 miles to Jerusalem and search all the places they had been to find Him. So, Joseph and Mary “turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.”
The idea of people seeking after Jesus is a large theme in Scripture.
The prophets sought for Jesus, in the person of the Messiah.
The wise men sought for Jesus, to find Him that was born King of the Jews.
The Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and told Philip saying, “Sir we would see Jesus” (John 12:20-21).
Of course, there are different ways people have seen Jesus.
The shepherds and the Wise Men saw Jesus as the King of kings.
Herod saw Jesus as a Competitor.
The multitudes saw Jesus as a Provider.
The scribes and Pharisees saw Religious Jesus as a Threat.
Peter saw Jesus as the Christ.
Nicodemus saw Jesus a good man and Teacher sent by God.
The oppressed in Israel under Roman rule saw Jesus as a Deliverer.
The Roman officials saw Jesus as an Insurrectionist.
The sincere seekers of salvation saw Jesus as the Savior.
How do you, personally, see Jesus?
It is good to seek Jesus; it is better to find Him.
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.
On the third day, Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple sitting amid the teachers, hearing them, and asking them questions. It would be interesting to know specifically what questions Jesus asked?
Most people have some questions they would like answered?
“Who am I?”
“Where did I come from?”
“Was I made in the image of God, or a cosmic accident?”
“Where am I going?”
“Is there life beyond the grave?”
Only God can answer these questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
One of the great moments in this narrative is the scene whereby a 12-year-old boy astonishes the learned Rabbis. Jesus was a child prodigy, having mastered so much of the Scriptures, and theology. The Bible says that Jesus confounded the religious teachers in the Temple, both by the questions He posed, and by the answers He gave. Jesus asked questions that went outside the traditional teachings of the Rabbis.
One reason why Jesus enjoyed penetrating insight into Scripture was because the noetic, or intellectual, effects of sin, based on the Fall, did not affect Him. Christ was born outside the slave market of sin so that His mind was not marred in any way. Paul teaches that sin has corrupted our minds. Our thoughts are darkened by the Fall. Sin impairs our ability to think clearly. Individuals no longer consistently think in a holy, or logically way, reflected in the Woke Movement which currently controls Western civilization.
To be Woke means to be virtuous, which translates into contending for a woman’s right to kill her baby. Abortion is a woman’s human right, we are told.
To be Woke means to encourage doctors to arrest normal biological developments in a child.
To be Woke is to embrace the homosexual agenda.
To be Woke is to insult conservative values, such as God, family, and guns.
To be Woke is to silence one’s critics rather than listen to them.
The Fall is why poor judgments are made so that we say, “To err is human.”
The Fall has led individuals to embrace agnosticism, and atheism.
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).
Charles Darwin had a brilliant mind, but he gave the world the non-sensical concept that humans have evolved from a common ancestor with the animals.
The world had never seen anyone whose mind had not been affected by sin, until they saw Jesus, and heard Him speak. Jesus was a sinless human being, and so was not weakened by the problems that affect all others. His thinking was crystal clear. His acumen was without parallel. As a 12-year-old child, Jesus could think more profoundly, more acutely, and more precisely than the most educated Rabbi. Jesus did not go to the Temple to show off. He went to the Temple to learn.
Touching His humanity, Jesus had to learn as other children had to learn. He was not given a divine brain. Jesus was in all points, true humanity. Anyone who denies this truth is declared to be anti-Christ in Scripture. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).
Jesus was not endowed in His human nature with omniscience. However, His divine nature could communicate to the human nature of Jesus information. When this was done, Jesus astonished people. But the divine nature did not communicate omniscience to the human nature, only information.
48 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.
Mary saw the actions of Jesus as a personal offense to her and Joseph.
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 pointed out that Joseph and Mary should not have been surprised at where He was, or what He was doing. Why did they not know He had to be about His Father’s business? There was a sense of urgency to the life of Christ. With this response, Jesus brought forth the fact there was a problem of spiritual knowledge.
Every person has a mental IQ, and every Christian has a spiritual IQ as well. The spiritual intelligence of Joseph and Mary, on some spiritual matters, needed development. With a gentle rebuke, Jesus told Mary she should have known He could be found doing the work His Father had given Him to do (2:49).
The moment passed.
Jesus was reunited with Joseph and Mary and together they returned to Nazareth. “But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (2:51). By keeping the words of Jesus in her heart, Mary was able to remember.
She remembered the visitation of the angel Gabriel.
Mary remembered being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit so that the “genesis” of a new life, a unique life, was created in her.
On the night of His birth, the baby in the cradle spoke and said to the Father, “A body hast Thou created for Me” (Heb. 10:5).
Mary remembered the night Christ was born.
What a night that was. It was a night filled with blood, and pain. But it was also a holy night.
“O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!”
Mary remembered the flight to Egypt following the birth of her Son, and the slaughter of the innocent that followed.
Mary remembered the return from Egypt to dwell in Nazareth, an obscure village but the place appointed by the Father for Jesus to be identified with. And prophesy was fulfilled.
Mary remembered the visit of the magi, and the presents they brought.
There was gold, fit for a king.
There was frankincense, or incense used in worship reflecting the prayers of the saints, when administered by priests. Jesus was a King and a Priest of the Most High God.
There was myrrh, used in burial ceremonies for the King-Priest was to die in order to live again.
Now, Mary had another memory. Her baby was now a man, at age 12, according to Jewish custom, and was to do a man’s work.
Mary should have known that Jesus had come to do kingdom work. That divine mission required preparation. Jesus was preparing for the work of establishing the kingdom of God.
By referring to His Father’s business, Jesus was acknowledging His own subordination in the Trinity. Theologians talk about the economic distinction within the Trinity, referring to the distinctions that have to do with the work of God.
It is the Father who sends the Son.
It is the Son who executes the will of the Father.
It is the Holy Spirit who sustains what the Father has planned, and the Son has executed.
It is God the Father who has planned salvation.
It is God the Son who has obtained salvation through His obedience, even unto death at the Cross.
It God the Holy Spirit who applies the work of the redemption to the soul.
Truly, salvation is of the Lord.
At an early age, in the days of His humiliation, Jesus had a holy commitment to do what the Father sent Him to do. His meat, and His drink, was to do the will of His Father. Part of the Father’s will was that Jesus honor Joseph and His mother Mary.
51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them…
After returning to Nazareth, Jesus worked alongside Joseph, learning the trade of a carpenter. In Nazareth, Jesus grew to manhood. In Nazareth Jesus found favor with men, for He was loved by God (2:52).