It is not uncommon, when reading biographies of famous people, to learn a good deal about their early, formative years. However, when we study Jesus’ life the majority of His childhood is missing. We learn that His parents were strong in faith, and His birth took place in Bethlehem, where Mary and Joseph took up residence. We learn that within a year (no longer than two), the family becomes refugees in Egypt to escape King Herod’s death squad sent to kill Him. The Bible also tells us that after Herod’s death, the family returned and settled in Nazareth, and the next thing we read about young Jesus, is when He was 12 and went with His family to Jerusalem for Passover. When that short episode is finished the Bible says, “Then he returned to Nazareth with them (His parents) and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” [Luke 2:51-52 NLT]
We know Jesus was the oldest brother of several siblings (see Mark 3:21, Mark 6:3 and Acts 1:14) so they clearly had a busy household. We know that He learned the carpenter trade from His father (Mark 6:3), but that’s about it. I have always wondered what it was like being around young Jesus, and what the family was like. Of course there have been some who made up fanciful stories about Jesus as a child. For example, the Gospel of Thomas, is a book that is NOT in the Bible, which included stories like Jesus breathing life into a clay bird, and Jesus cursing and killing a playmate, but these stories have never had credibility.
What stands out to me is that, the absence of information, indicates that Jesus lived like a “normal” child and His development into an adult was “normal” as well. There was nothing out of the ordinary until around the age of 30 when He left the carpenter trade, and began His public ministry. Where the Bible is silent, we need to resist the urge to manufacture data, like the author of the Gospel of Thomas. Jesus was sent to Earth to live like us, so He has been there, and understands our challenges, fears, struggles and insecurities. We can take heart that He really knows what families, children, teens and young adults face and have to deal with. “[He} understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)