26 Dec. Luke 2:40-43

26 Dec. Jesus grows up in a Jewish family

"The little child [Jesus] grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God's goodness was upon him."

"Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. When he was twelve years old, they went to the feast as they always did."

"After the feast days were over, they started home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it."

          (Luke 2:40-43)


 

As a child, Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, close to God and popular with all those he met.

Every year, his parents followed the Jewish custom of going up to Jerusalem for a religious festival. They lived too far away to visit Jerusalem three times a year, but always managed to get there for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the ‘Passover Festival’) (see Exodus 23:14-17), and Jesus no doubt went with them.

Today, as in Jesus’s day, Jewish boys are traditionally considered to become adults at the age of thirteen – when they become a ‘Bar Mitzvah’ (a son to whom the commandments apply). They become responsible for their own actions, and play a full role in Jewish religious ceremonies. They are usually invited to read publicly from the Jewish scriptures, having been taught Hebrew as a child at their local synagogue.

When he was twelve, in c.7AD, Jesus went up to Jerusalem, as usual, with his family for the Passover festival, and soon became totally engrossed in discussing the Jewish scriptures with the teachers in the Temple courts.

It’s quite possible that Jesus celebrated his thirteenth birthday during the Passover festival because no-one knows precisely when he was born.

Before Christmas Day replaced the Roman mid-winter festival of the ‘Unconquered Sun’ on 25th December, early Christians believed that Jesus was actually born on 25th March.

In Palestine, shepherds would only have kept sheep out of doors overnight during the warmer months from March or April to November. Therefore it’s unlikely that angelic hosts would have appeared to shepherds in the fields in December, and more likely that Jesus was born between March and November.

So it’s quite possible that Jesus was actually born in March or April, just before the Jewish Passover festival, and celebrated his ‘Bar Mitzvah’ in Jerusalem.

It would be quite normal for a Jewish boy like Jesus to be invited to read the scriptures in public on his thirteenth birthday, but the rabbis were amazed and fascinated by the maturity of Jesus’s questions and his understanding of the Jewish law.

This young man - Jesus of Nazareth - was growing up to be someone very special and unique.

The photo shows the southeast corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

You can read more about Jesus's childhood @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/the-bible-journey/3-jesuss-childhood-journeys-b/jesus-grows-up/


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