When Jesus was a Teenager and Young Adult

Luke 2: 40 says, “and the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.”

This verse is followed by several other biblical notations and secular history that give us a clue to the early life of Jesus.

When a male reached the age of twelve, he was considered a man. Still, he traveled with his parents each year to Jerusalem. That particular year he stayed behind while his parents joined the procession back to their hometown. For three days he met with the teachers in the temple listening and asking questions. It can probably be assumed rightfully so that this was the time that Jesus began to realize he was the Son of God. The older men in the discussion were amazed at the understanding that young Jesus had.

When Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem, they found him in the temple; he said that he had to be about his Father’s business. No doubt this meant Jesus experienced development further along toward his future life. This is an important feature in Scripture telling us that Jesus became aware of who he actually was. In obedience to them he returned to Nazareth while the Scripture says Mary kept all these things in our heart. Then follows the Bible verse that most people believe began what was called the silent years from his age 12 to age 30. He “increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2: 52)

However, we can draw on our understanding of customs and probabilities and other Scriptures for that time. Each year he went to observe the Passover. Likely, he made the point to have further discussion with the leaders of the temple since he did it already when he was twelve years old. There is no evidence that any form of animal sacrifice was made in his behalf because he was perfect.

Ancient documents that have not been recognized as legitimate Scripture have said that Jesus as a young person performed miracles such as bringing a dead bird back to life. This is easily disputed because at the wedding in Cana he performed his first miracle by changing water into wine. He did this at the request of his mother Mary.

Scriptures tell us that Mary and Joseph did give birth to brothers and sisters after Jesus. His siblings refused to believe that he was the Son of God and the Savior of the world until after his resurrection. Two of his brothers ultimately wrote books that have become part of the New Testament, James and Jude. In Luke 1: 47 Mary refers to God as her Savior meaning that she was not perfect.

While he was physically maturing, his stepfather Joseph taught him the carpenter trade. Jesus knew hard labor and had a well-developed body. Later Joseph disappeared from the family scene before Jesus began his ministry. Joseph was much older than Mary, and probably died leaving Jesus as the head of the house. As such, he was responsible for the family’s wellbeing.

Since Mary and Elisabeth were cousins, they each knew of the babies that would be born as part of God’s plan of salvation. Elisabeth and her husband Zacharias were very old. After their death, their son John went to live with a group of desert recluses. (Luke 1: 80) This means that Jesus did not have a close relationship with John but knew of the sadness that he experienced at losing his parents. We know this because earlier Mary traveled to visit Elisabeth when they first became pregnant. They must not have lived very far apart.

John 17 is a lengthy prayer that Jesus prayed on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion. The reason I mention this Scripture is that it calls forth the relationship that Jesus had with the Heavenly Father and his disciples. His ministry was concluded, and he was on the way to the cross. He lived a responsible full life for eighteen years as a private citizen. Then for three years he ministered while gathering together disciples. He ultimately was resurrected from the dead for our promise of eternal life with him.

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