What did Jesus do from the time he was old enough to read, write and talk intelligently? The Bible does not tell us much. We do know of one incident when he was forgotten by his parents in Jerusalem after celebrating Passover. Somehow Joseph and Mary didn't realize their twelve year old son was missing for more than a day. They returned to Jerusalem and went to all their friends and relatives homes looking for him. After three days they finally found him in the temple. Luke 2:46b-49 says:
"Sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.
And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
And when they (Joseph and Mary) saw him they were amazed; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold , thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
And he (Jesus) said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist (knew) ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
And they understood not this saying which he spake unto them."
The phrase "about my Father's business" could perhaps better be translated "in my Father's house". That is where Jesus logically would have been considering who he was and what his destiny involved. After this, they went to Nazareth and verse 51 says that Jesus was "subject unto them" as an obedient and dutiful child. Mary kept these sayings in her heart, pondering them for what turned out to be 18 years. All we know about Jesus from the time he was 12 until when he was 30 years old is recorded in one verse. Luke 2:52 summarizes 18 years of Jesus life:
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
For 18 years Jesus grew in both soul and body becoming the perfect "man". Biblically, a male was not considered a "man" until he was 30 years old. Unlike today, a 21 year old was not considered an adult in Biblical culture. A person was looked upon as a child until they were 12, and then for the next 18 years they were to grow up physically and mentally. Finally, when they became 30, they were granted all the privileges of adulthood. Thus, Jesus could not start his "ministry" until he was 30 years old. He, along with everyone else, had to first "grow up" before being allowed the responsibility of teaching and serving others.
Not only did Jesus grow up physically and mentally during those 18 years, but he grew in favor with God and man. He carried out his duties, whatever they were, perfectly during all those years. He was godly, benevolent, kind, humble, obedient and diligent. Both God and man regarded him with increasing favor. We can only assume that Jesus spent hours upon hours reading the scrolls of the Old Testament. He spent many hours at the feet of the elders learning the meaning of the words he read. He had to have spent hours and hours meditating upon what he had read and heard.
We also know that Jesus had to have spent many hours per day in prayer, for that was the culture of the time. We know that Jesus worked as a carpenter in his physical father's business. He was the "good kid" all the other parents wished their child was like. He did as he was told by both his Heavenly Father as well as his earthly parents. He grew and became more mature each year until he was finally old enough to accept the responsibility of leading others.
So many of the problems we encounter in our society are brought on by children being in a rush to "grow up". We consider someone who is 18, old enough to be granted almost every privilege of adulthood (except drinking hard liquor). By the time a person is 21 they are considered an adult and expected to be married, buy a house, work at a profession etc. The biggest difference between the Biblical culture and the current one is education. In Bible times, there was no public education that kids attended for 12 years. There were "colleges", but they were only for the wealthy and elite.
Kids were taught by their parents, grandparents and religious leaders. They became apprentices at their family business where they worked and learned not only a profession but gained insight into life from their mentors. Biblically, most kids got married when teenagers and continued to live with their parents for many years. Biblical culture did not revolve around what made the kids happy or whatever the newest and "coolest" fad was. Biblical culture was focused on what was practical, and what was best for the family.
Jesus led, by today's standards, the most boring and lonely life of anyone on earth. He lived with his parents until he was 30. He never got married nor did he have any children. He worked as a carpenter until he was thirty years old. He was mainly interested in studying the scrolls of the Torah and learning from his elders what they meant. His "free time" was spent in prayer, study and meditation. Most nights, he probably went to bed soon after sunset and got up to go pray before the sun came up.
If teenagers were subject to this kind of lifestyle today they would scream "child abuse". If twenty-something young adults were expected to live this kind of disciplined quiet lifestyle, they would revolt and flat out refuse. If newly married couples lived with their parents for years after they were married today; the parents would rebel and leave. If unmarried children lived at home until they were 30; they would be looked upon as "freeloaders".
What was then was for then and what is now will not be changed. Cultures have changed, and what the western culture has become cannot be reversed. But, in our rush to educate and then force young people on to the fast track for financial prosperity before they have matured; we have, as a society, created a generation of leaders who are too immature to really lead. We have promoted countless young people into levels of management, and the related stress, that their lack of experience and maturity cannot handle.
Throw into this mix the drive to be number one in everything, and the total devotion to business success that motivates many under the age of 30, and what you end up with are people "burned out" before they turn 40. So much of life's energy is spent receiving education for 16-20 years and then running the first few years after graduation like a 100 yard dash, that when people realize it is a marathon; they do not have the stamina to stay in the race. Because of these things, the phenomenon of people wanting to "retire" when they are 50 years old or less has evolved.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing for a 3 ½ year ministry. He never went to "seminary" to learn how to be the world's greatest teacher, counselor, evangelist, prophet or leader. He never attended a day of "school" in his life. There is no record of Jesus making a fortune in his years as a carpenter apprentice. He was content to spend 18 years of his life learning and growing so he would be ready when his ministry began.
When Jesus "graduated" at his 30th birthday, he immediately left home and began a lifestyle that by everyone's standards was considered impoverished. He never bought a home, or even had a home for that matter. He never worked a job, started a company or lived off of Joseph's inheritance. Jesus himself said that foxes had holes and birds had nests, but the Son of man had nowhere to lay his head.
Jesus Christ, the son of God, was by today's standards-HOMELESS AND UNEMPLOYED. There is no other way to put it. Thus, Jesus spent 30 years of his life preparing to live the rest of his life in the most deplorable state men judge other men to ever end up in-the state of having no home, no job, no wife or children and no future. By the world's standards, Jesus was the perfect example of FAILURE.
An associate of mine is a medical doctor. Years ago, he closed his practice and devoted his life to taking medical teams of Christians to the most remote parts of Siberia in Russia. They go there to provide free medical care and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every year he takes numerous teams, even some by dog sled, to small villages in the Arctic to administer medical care and share the good news of Jesus Christ. This man is the happiest, most fulfilled and satisfied person I know. He lives off his Social Security and demands nothing more. He is truly content to look at his life and all his training as a gift to others as opposed to a stepping stone to untold riches and fame.
Another associate of mine recently stepped aside from an executive position making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to run a non-profit program for NOTHING. Asked if he felt bad for "squandering" all their years of education and training, he said; "Absolutely not; for all those years were preparation for his life's true calling." This person is happy, blessed and totally at peace with himself. He does not miss the income or the associated stress of his old job one bit.
Life is more than getting an education, securing the "dream job", making tons of money and establishing a name for oneself. Money can buy happiness, but all the wealth of this world cannot purchase true peace or contentment. These things only come with fulfilling the destiny God planned for one's life. True peace and contentment come through the selfless giving of one's life in service to others.
Jesus Christ was the most contented man who ever lived on this earth. Even though he did absolutely nothing, by the world's standards, to ever distinguish himself as a success, he succeeded in doing more for humanity than anyone else who ever lived. When he gave his life as a sacrifice for sin, he succeeded in establishing himself eternally as the Savior of mankind. Through his complete failure to live up to the world's standards of success, he became the greatest person who ever walked on this earth because God gave him THE Name above every name. That is why I want to be like Jesus and find my greatest joy in following His example, even if it means being called by the world a total FAILURE.
Amen! I echo that and being deemed as a failure by the world's standards only means I must be following the Lord, rightly. I can look back 11 years ago when I first got married and know I was still so caught up in the world and the things that were important to me then mean nothing to me today. Praise God! Thanks again for a very insightful blog, keep 'em coming! Blessings! Andrea
I say Amen! too.
Nine years ago I voluntarily left the world of Atlanta law firms and opened a home based business making half the money, but reclaiming my time, my family, my flexibility, my priorities. I told my boss that I was tired of the rat race, because the rats were winning. I was so weary of hearing of parents spending $1000 for their daughter to go to prom, boasting what kind of car they gave to their child for the 16th birthday. One attorney in our office refused to hire a receptionist because she didn't like her hair-do.
Hubby and I live modestly by choice, we try to live debt-free and are trying to send son thru college without any student loan or other debt. Most do not understand what we're about and I have grown accustomed, if not a bit defensive, over our choices.
Great blog. I was going to question your statement that money can buy happiness, but I think I understand. Maybe you mean that it can buy momentary happiness? Like how happy we are when we buy something we really want, and then find the happiness lasts only a day or two?
I sure would love to meet these asssociates of yours! Thanks again for such an insightful and encouraging post.
I just wanted to clear up the point on money purchasing happiness. I am using happiness in respect to it being determined by OUTSIDE circumstances. There is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Joy is an "inside" thing that cannot be bought at any price. Happiness can be bought by getting something that makes you happy for the short time it does. All the money in the world cannot buy one second of peace, joy, love or any other quality that comes only from God.
Thank you for reading!
Great blog blessings ALl the pressure the world puts on the teens to go and be something when to be like Jesus and be considered a "failure" is much more rewarding in the long end.
I want to be a wife, mother , and homemaker, and by the worlds standards they consider it a failure. But I think it is a more rewarding job then going to college for 4+ years, get a high paying, job, that takes a lot of time and wears me out. I would rather follow God's calling then the calling of the world. Thanks for the great blog :)
This is a great thread! Golden is absolutely right! The American culture continues to decline and aside from it turning away from God not having a mother at home running the house is also a enormous reason for this. Having a parent at home to watch the kids instead of a daycare or watching themselves is unmeasurable. God bless!
You stated " True peace and contentment come through the selfless giving of one's life in service to others".
Those who have known and now know persecution for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ might take issue with this statement. True peace and contentment come through being known by and knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect to want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content." Peace and contentment are not 'success' either, nor the prize. The prize is Christ Himself in any and all circumstances.
Romans 8:6 "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace".
Romans: 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness , and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost".
Personally, I am no where near living this way, but seeking...........
I totally agree that true peace and contentment are found in Christ in us. But, from a practical point of view, in relation to our life's calling, purpose and aim; true peace and contentment come through selfless service...
Jesus Christ was the most persecuted man who ever lived, yet as he hung on the cross, he still had peace in his heart because he knew he had fulfilled God's calling in his life and had always done the Father's will. True inner peace and contentment are in no ways dependent upon outward circumstances. They are ours as we stay in fellowship with our Lord and do his will.
God Bless You.
It's a great blog and a great subject. Following Jesus you have to work on a low economy. My mother was reading a book about some seven habits of successful people. Fine and I was thinking about God ten rules that bring success if obeyed. I was thinking about the one about not committing adultery. Well that's a laugh in the world. Married to one wife or one husband all your life seems unimaginable in today's wisdom and life style.
Well thanks for a great subject. Following the Christian lifestyle is like growing pecan trees. It takes a lot of years from seedling to mature tree to see the wisdom, but when pecans are giving thier yeild, it's time for harvest. Yes the the Christian life style is a mystery. The greatest yield is that peace we have with God. Everything seems good, but once you disobey God your party is over. May you be blessed. Amen.