10 - Jesus as a Boy
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, in the home of a simple carpenter. Joseph worked to support Him, and Mary took care of Him. She led and encouraged Him as He took His first steps. He learned His first words from her. He listened attentively as she told Him about heaven and about God.Jesus learned from everything He observed around Him. God put wisdom in His heart.
As Jesus grew up, He learned to read and write. In his free time He wandered through Nazareth's narrow streets and in the open fields, where He observed and learned much.
He saw the shepherd go into the field with his flock and observed how deeply the good shepherd loved his sheep. He watched the vinedresser trim and prune vines that were to bear fruit. The wild branches that bore no fruit were cut off and thrown away. The others were purified and trimmed. When they blossomed, they bore heavy clusters of grapes.
Jesus watched as the sower sowed his grain. Some seeds fell on the pathway and were quickly eaten by birds. Some fell among thorns, and had no chance to develop into healthy plants. Other seeds fell on hard soil and were dried by the sun. Some seeds fell in good earth; they grew into plants that bore fruit. Sometimes a single kernel would multiply to become 30, 60, or even 100 kernels.
Jesus was carefree and happy, like any other boy. But He was also different from the others. The greatest difference was not that He was wiser and more sensible. The greatest difference was that He did no evil. He was born holy, and He remained holy all His life. He had become like other people in all things—except sin.
The people of Nazareth did not realize that. They thought they knew Him. "Jesus, the son of Joseph," they said, "the son of the carpenter." They did not know that Joseph was Jesus' foster father.
Mary knew. Did she remember always that Jesus was more than the son of Joseph?
When Jesus was twelve years old, a special day came for Him. He had looked forward to that day for a long time. For the first time, He was allowed to go to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph to celebrate the Passover, the holy festival of deliverance.
The journey was long and very enjoyable. The fields lay green and shining under the spring sun. The grain was already developing, and the vineyards were blossoming on the warm hillsides.
Jesus, Joseph and Mary walked through the Valley of Jezreel with other people from Galilee. They crossed the Jordan and rested the first night in an inn. They traveled farther through the land east of the Jordan. The closer they approached Jerusalem, the busier the roads became. Pious people in festal garments came from all directions to the holy city. Their joyful singing could be heard far and wide across the sunny fields.
The people sang the songs of ascents, and Jesus joined with His holy voice: "I lift up my eyes to the hills; my help comes from the Lord." Indeed, there were mountains in the distance. The mountains behind which Jerusalem lay were on the horizon.
When Jesus and His companions had climbed the last hills, they saw the city before them. They saw thick walls with a set of towers, white houses among green trees, and a brilliant white marble temple with a golden roof. The temple looked like a mountain of snow with a fiery crown. The city was surrounded by hills—faithful watchmen. On one side of the city was the green hill known as the Mount of Olives; on the other side was a bare hill known as Golgotha. "As the mountains surround Jerusalem," sang the people, "so the Lord surrounds His people, both now and forever."
They hurried to reach the city. They entered the city gates rejoicing: "We enter your gates, 0 Jerusalem, city that we love."
A colorful stream of people poured through the streets. A boy in a white linen garment walked happily among them. He was the One for whom they were all waiting, the One of whom they all sang, the One who would make a much better Passover possible someday.
The Passover festival lasted seven days. During that time Jesus stayed close to Mary and Joseph. It was the most glorious event of His entire life. He stood by as the Passover lamb was slaughtered. He watched quietly as the blood drained into a basin— the precious blood that had preserved the people from death while they were in Egypt. He stood with the others by the table where He received the unleavened bread and dipped it in the bitter sauce. He also went to the temple and stood next to Joseph in the outer court. As He raised His eyes toward the blue sky He thought of His Father in heaven and sent up a silent prayer to Him.
Jesus joined the praying and singing. In fact, He participated with greater reverence than anyone else. No one knew better than He how great and holy the heavenly Father was. No one was more at home in the temple than Jesus.