Sunday, January 2, 2011

Jesus As A Little Boy

Luke describes Mary and Joseph as godly and conservatively religious people. They were careful to do everything that God’s Law commanded. Through their godliness Jesus, even as an infant, was protected from ever transgressing the Law. He was raised to respect and love God’s word, though His family was poor, and obedience to God came out of personal sacrifice.

Since Luke does not ever mention Mary’s or Joseph’s parents, it’s possible relations with extended family were strained. Perhaps the birth of Jesus was just too “outside the box” for their conservative and religious community. Only Elizabeth and Zechariah, with their own remarkable experiences, were able to readily believe Mary’s and Joseph’s story of angels, shepherds and magi, and understood the significance of Jesus’ birth.

I imagine, in the early years, Mary and Joseph staying with Elizabeth and Zechariah when they went to Jerusalem for the Feasts. Elizabeth and Zechariah lived in a town just outside of Jerusalem, in the hill country of Judea. John and Jesus, cousins only about a year apart in age, would have become friends, seeing each other three times a year. John, having the Spirit since before birth had always known Who Jesus was. And Jesus, having the Spirit knew John, too.

Both boys would have attended the Torah school for boys, learning from Zechariah all his great store of knowledge and wisdom. Think of Zechariah taking these two boys into the temple with him. John, a young Levite, was to become a priest himself one day. Jesus, also descended from Levi, would have been warmly welcomed as well.

Together these two deeply spiritual and intelligent boys, hungry for the things of God, must have delighted the teachers and scribes with their eagerness to learn. It is easy to imagine them, after months apart, greeting each other with hugs and kisses in the Mediterranean way. Think of them running together to the surrounding hills, the high desert landscape of Judea, talking about all the new insights they’d been inspired by, in their yeshivas, learning Torah.

Think of their sense of anticipation as they prepared for their visit to the temple, purifying themselves in the courtyard’s special pool, “living water” continuously pouring into it through a spout, and running out through a channel underneath the floor.

Freshly washed and dressed in clean clothes, they would have made their way with the elderly Zechariah, dancing in their hearts, but respectfully keeping pace with the aged priest. Perhaps young John would begin the song of ascent, Psalm 122, with “I was glad when they said to me” and Jesus would chime in with excited laughter "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"

At the temple their eyes would have sparkled at the great majesty of Solomon’s Colonnade, the familiar beauty of God’s golden house. Did they sing David’s song, “O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells,” and “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple”? (Psalm 26:8 and 27:4)

They must have loved being in God’s house, they must have loved inquiring about God’s word in His temple, and they must have longed to stay there forever, often dragging their feet at the end of the day when it was time to go back to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s warm home, tucked away on the outskirts of town, in the hill country.

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