Therefore, I thought we would pick up where Christmas left off with Christ's birth. The Bible is fairly silent upon Christ's childhood, but we do have a few clues. I thought we would explore those during this post.
When Jesus was 12 years of age he accompanied his parents to Jerusalem for the Passover feast (Lk 2:41-42). He would have been nearly 13 since he was likely born in June and the Passover would have been in March or April. Due to the extra commotion of such a feast with the number of people that would attend, and the likelihood that the women and men may have traveled separately, it was not noticed until three days later that Jesus was not with the crowd that left Jerusalem as they headed back home (Lk 2:43-46). They found him still in the temple both answering and asking questions of the Jewish leaders about the scriptures, and the Jewish leaders were astonished with his answers (Lk 2:46-47). Since Jesus was there for three days, it is unlikely that he was unescorted. To be in the temple for such a long time would imply that someone with temple connections would have been his escort. There are extra Biblical sources that state that Joseph of Arimathea was the great uncle of Jesus and therefore was likely the one serving as his adult escort and mentor.[i] When questioned by his parents, Jesus stated that he “must be about his Father’s business” (Lk 2:49), implying that which God wanted him to do although at the time Mary and Joseph did not understand his meaning (Lk 2:50). Jesus, in obedience to his earthly parents, obeyed them and left with them (Lk 2:51). As Jesus grew he continued to grow in wisdom and in the favor of both God and his fellowman (Lk 2:52).
There is nothing more in scripture about his childhood. However, there are hints that give us some clues. It would seem somewhat odd that if he was so in tune with what God wanted from him at age 12 that he would be so unnoticed until he was close to 30 years of age. After all, as a devout Jewish man, he would be traveling to Jerusalem each year at Passover and perhaps for the other required feasts as well (Pentecost and Shavuot; Dt 16:16-17). Also, it would seem odd that the people in his home town of Nazareth would have had to question who he was that spoke to them from the scriptures so intelligently (Mt 13:53-54) if he had grown up there and had been a part of their synagogue. Therefore, he would not have gone unnoticed by the Jewish leaders at the temple or in his hometown. Yet they knew Jesus’ family members quite well (Mt 13:55-58), so why did they not know Jesus that well? The people referred to Jesus as a carpenter’s son but not as a carpenter himself (Mt 13:55). Although, in Mark’s account the people referred to him as a carpenter (Mk 6:3), yet they were questioning their statement and Jesus’ identity. So, the question is where was he for these 18 years? Collins and others propose that Jesus was with his great uncle Joseph of Arimathea during these 18 years.[ii] Both Mark and Luke state that this Joseph was a “counselor” (Mk 15:43; Lk 23:50) and the Greek word used (bouleutes) could mean either a senator or a member of the Sanhedrin (or perhaps both). The Vulgate translates the term to be “decurio” meaning an official, under Roman authority, who was in charge of metal mining; therefore, Joseph was likely a provincial Roman senator in charge of Rome's overseas mining interests.[iii] That he was able to approach Pilate himself to obtain the body of Jesus (Mk 15:43-45; Lk 23:52) would indicate that he was a very prominent man in the Roman world.[iv] Also, since the bodies of criminals were usually disposed of in common pits unless the body was promptly claimed by a relative would indicate that Joseph of Arimathea was a relative. Also, as Joseph of Arimathea’s job would need him to travel throughout the Roman world, Jesus being with him would also explain many of the traditions and texts that claim Jesus visited
many parts of the world during this period of his life.[v]
[i]Steven M. Collins, Parthia: The Forgotten Ancient Superpower and its Role in Biblical History, (Royal Oak, MI: Bible
Blessings, 2004), 152.
[ii] Ibid., 158.
[iii] John D. Keyser, “The Noble Joseph of Arimathea,” Keith Hunt, http://www.keithhunt.com/Joseph1.html (accessed
[iv] Collins, Parthia,. 159-160.
[v] Ibid., 160-190.
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