- Matt. 2:1-23
- Luke 2:39-52
Some period of time (probably around 6 months) after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Magi from the east came to visit "the king of the Jews". The Magi were sorcerers, magicians or wizards, from a country in the east (probably Persia). They were familiar with the prophecies of the coming king of the Jews, the Messiah, and they came because they saw a star in the sky, and they came to worship Jesus. Remember that during these days the wise men were very knowledgeable about the stars and constellations, so they recognized when this "new star" showed up. We should note, for accuracy's sake, that the Bible does not reveal how many Magi were present.
The Magi first stopped in Jerusalem where they inquired of Jesus' whereabouts. King Herod heard about the Magi's arrival and the news of a king's birth concerned him—he thought Jesus was a threat to his kingdom. Herod lied and asked the Magi to tell him where this king was, once they found Him, so that Herod could go worship Him. The Magi went to Bethlehem, led by the star, which stopped over the house where Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were staying. The Magi bowed in worship to Jesus and gave Him treasures of gold, incense and myrrh (a spice). The Magi were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they returned home by a different route.
When he realized the Magi had tricked him, Herod had the baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, two years old and younger, killed. However, Joseph was warned by an angel in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt and stay until those searching for Him were dead. Joseph arose immediately and obeyed, leaving for Egypt during the night. They stayed there until Herod died. (Herod died an awful death, which the Jewish historian Josephus wrote about. You can read a summary from Wikipedia.org here.)
Herod's son Archelaus reigned in his place after his death, so Joseph was warned in a dream not to return to Judea, but instead to live in Nazareth of Galilee.
40 And [Jesus] grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
(Luke 2:40 NIV)
From this point, we aren't told anything about Jesus' life until He is 12 years old.
Each year, Joseph and Mary would take their family to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. When Jesus was 12, without their knowledge, Jesus stayed behind after His parents left. They journeyed a day and went to search for Jesus among their relatives, but they couldn't find Him. They returned to Jerusalem and searched and on the third day of searching they found Him in the temple listening and asking questions of the Rabbis (teachers of the Law).
47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:47-52 NIV)
This account gives us a brief snapshot into what Jesus was like as a child. Let's note three observations:
- Jesus knew and understood the Word of GOD. Recall that Jesus is 100% GOD and 100% man, and that in eternity Jesus was "GOD the Word." So it is both astounding and not surprising at the same time that Jesus knew the Law this completely. It is astounding when we think of a 12-year-old boy who had such great knowledge that He was wiser than those much older than He. And it is not at all surprising when we consider that, in eternity, this 12-year-old boy was the very Word He was discussing (John 1). In other words, it isn't hard to "learn" something that you already are. Jesus wasn't learning someone else's thoughts and commands; they were His own!
- Though He was GOD in the flesh, Jesus obeyed His parents. After all, that is what He Himself had commanded children to do.
- Despite being 100% GOD, Jesus still grew in GOD's favor, which means that GOD held Jesus in increasingly high regard. That is amazing and astounding and I do not understand it. But I do accept it. I believe it.
As children, we should strive to be like the boy Jesus just the same as adults need to work hard to be like the man Jesus. So, from these events we can see that we should do three things:
- Study GOD's Word, so that we might be wise and knowledgeable like Jesus was as a boy.
- Obey our parents.
- Ask GOD for wisdom to understand His Word, His will for me personally, and that I might grow in His grace and favor like Jesus did as a boy.