© Original content written by James R. Carlson
We celebrate Christmas as the season of remembering the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We relish the image of a baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. But we spend little time thinking about Jesus as a little boy growing up under the care of his mother and father. Apart from myth, there is little in the Bible that tells us of how he was raised. However, we do have a glimpse into how His Heavenly Father, God, trained him while Jesus was young.
We find a brief account of Jesus as a young boy in the New Testament book of Luke that gives us insight into his upbringing.
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.
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.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking 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.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
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.
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?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
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.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
[Luke 2:41-52 KJV]
Jesus, as a boy, recognized his duty to be subject to Mary and Joseph but at the age of 12; but he also recognized that he was the Son of God and had a duty to His Heavenly Father. This led him to answer his earthly parents saying that he was about his Father’s business. Obedience to his Father in Heaven was first on his mind. As the 5th commandment tells us, Jesus was subject to his earthly parents (although Joseph was only a step-father) and this was in fulfillment of the Law of Moses.
Reading and understanding the Word of God was a part of the Father’s business with Jesus. He was learning and discussing what he learned with those who had a ‘learned’ position within Judaism in the city of Jerusalem. He was able to convey his understanding and reach out to understand more. The idea that Jesus as a pre-teen would seek Biblical knowledge and wisdom speaks of the training he received from his Heavenly Father.
It is no stretch of the imagination to understand that Jesus’ Father would use the book that He wrote, the Hebrew Bible, to teach His Son with. Jesus had many lessons to learn from this textbook of the Bible before entering into his earthly ministry and fulfill his Father’s Will. Just as we have lessons to learn that prepare us for the purpose God has in our life and ministry, Jesus had to learn these lessons as well. Any loving Father will train and discipline their children so that they may grow to their full potential.
Take for example the story of Sampson and Delila in the Bible. If Jesus were to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, he would find his eyes blinded and led to serve at satan’s mill for an eternity. If like Esau, Jesus took hold of the pleasures of the flesh instead of the inheritance God gave him, he would lose the position he had with God and His Kingdom although he would bitterly seek it all his life. And like Adam, if Jesus disobeyed the Will of God and took hold of the carnal knowledge of good and evil, Jesus would be rejected out of paradise and left to suffer the thorns of labor all his days.
There are so many stories that can be counted as lessons from the Father God to His Son. All of them are stories of God’s love for His Son that prepared him for his ministry and ultimately for the Cross. While these lessons not only applied to Jesus but to ourselves as well, let us look into the greatest challenge Jesus would ever face – the crucifixion.
Jesus was led by the Father to a water baptism with John the Baptist before the Holy Spirit came upon him. Then, led by the Spirit, Jesus raised several people from the dead during his earthly ministry. Jesus even raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb 4 days. Jesus foretold of his death and that he would raise from the dead after 3 days. The experience the Son gained from obedience to the Father, led by the Holy Spirit, helped Jesus understand that his death on the Cross would not be his end. This all led to Jesus being able to trust the Father and obey His Will to suffer the death of the Cross.
We can draw from the lesson book that God gave to Jesus, the Bible, many lessons that apply to us as well. The truth of God’s Word is timeless and endures to all generations. Looking into the curriculum that Jesus had from his Heavenly Father gives us a glimpse into Jesus the man who was also God, prepared to take on the sins of mankind so we could be forgiven by the Father.
There is more to this story than meets the eye. Trusting God, being led by the Holy Spirit, obedience to the Father by faith in His Son Jesus Christ, are only the beginning of a life well lived. Truly, we are children of God the Father by trusting in the Cross of Jesus Christ. How wonderful it is for us that Jesus was an obedient Son, obedient even to the point of death.
Pray this prayer to become a child of God.
God of heaven, I believe in Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for me. I believe that he paid for the penalty of my sin, which I admit I have done. I ask for your forgiveness of my sin and thank you for your love. Please bring me closer to you so that I may know you. By your Holy Spirit, please make in me a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and a right mind that I may do those things that are pleasing to you. Thank you God, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now my Father in Heaven. Amen!