Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Youth of Jesus

            In regard to the youth years of our Lord we cannot find any specific, direct and detailed information in the New Testament.
            From history and also by looking as to how the society is arranged in our own times we know that in the period of their youth the people are usually studying and they are becoming fully equipped, in order to be able to find good jobs later on and live their lives successfully.
            This is why certain philosophers have suggested that Jesus might have travelled to India in his youth and early adulthood, in order to learn mystical practises and magic, which He was to use during His 3 years of public life. Therefore, we Christians, have to find some way to respond to this untrue theory. And it is obviously untrue mainly because Jesus is not just a man, but the God-man (Θεάνθρωπος), and he didn’t need to learn how to preach, or how to perform miracles, as all these were -any way- natural to Him.

            In the Gospel of St. Luke (4, 16-22), we read:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor:  He has sent me to proclaim release for prisoners, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, To-day has this scripture been fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth: and they said, Is he not the son of Joseph?”.
            By reading this passage and if we are to read between the lines, I think, we can identify 3 enlightening elements:
            1.         Jesus was brought up in Nazareth.
            2.         He is God, as –according to the text- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Him”.
            3.         All those in the synagogue, who had heard Him interpreting the text from prophet Isaiah, were very much surprised of the wisdom He had shown. They obviously knew Him as a fellow citizen who was working as an ordinary carpenter and they also knew that He had not been educated in India or indeed elsewhere, otherwise they wouldn’t ask: “Is he not the son of Joseph?”.
In the Gospel of St. John (7, 14-16) we also read the following:
“When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up to the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished: «How is it», they said «that this untrained man has such learning?» Jesus replied, «My teaching is not my own but His who sent me»”.
            Here we can clearly see that his co-patriots know that He was not formally educated, that means He had not been away from Nazareth. Jesus Himself helps them to find an answer to their asking, by telling them that “His teaching is not His own but His who had sent Him. That means Jesus is passing on to the people the divine teaching and the messages from God the Father Himself.
            The above references assures us that Jesus had not been away from Nazareth at all, having spent His youth there, waiting for the right time to start His mission on earth.
Even though Jesus was scholarly, wise and strong, He was still humble and had a servant attitude, putting others first and being kind to everyone.  Jesus experienced all aspects of humanity including all the stages and experiences of childhood and adolescence.  He genuinely feels and understands the needs of people since He walked and lived among us.  He is able to sympathize with us and understand the difficulties we go.  The writer to the Hebrews explained: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).  The writer continues in chapter four, verse 15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
The so-called “silent” years of Jesus’ life were an important time of preparation for the great ministry and great sacrifice of Himself that God had ordained before the foundation of the world.  It took Jesus thirty years to be fully equipped and for the right timing of God.  Jesus followed the agenda of God and was obedient and submissive to the will of God.  He was a great example for us… we must follow God’s timing for everything and we must become equipped for the job He has called us to do and this may take many years.
We know that as a man, Jesus was our perfect example, but also as a child, Jesus was a perfect example for other children and for teens.
I would like to conclude with quoting Hebrews 5:8 and 9:  “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

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