The Childhood of Jesus

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." - Luke 2:40

The New Testament - A Brief Overview

Brief History of the Childhood of Jesus
Scriptures and Topics Covered:
Joseph and Mary's Flight into Egypt (Mat 2:13-23).
Herod's Slaughtering of the Infants (Mat 2:16-18).
Joseph and Mary's Return to Israel (Mat 2:19-21).
Archelaus Ruling in Judea (Mat 2:22).
Joseph and Mary Settle in Nazareth (Mat 2:23; Lk 2:39).
Jesus Grows Strong in Spirit (Lk 2:40).
Jesus Visits Jerusalem (Lk 2:41-50).
Jesus Increases in Wisdom (Lk 2:51-52).

Joseph and Mary's Flight Into Egypt

After the Magi had departed the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Jesus and his mother into the land of Egypt until He sent word that it would be safe to return. He warned that Herod would try to find the child to murder him. Joseph obeyed the Lord and took Jesus and his mother by night and departed for the land of Egypt. This event was foretold by the prophets.

Herod's Slaughtering of the Infants in Bethlehem

When Herod learned that he was betrayed by the Magi and that Jesus might have escaped he went into an outrage and ordered the murder of all male children in Bethlehem and along the coast. The coast would have been the most obvious route out of the land. This event was foretold by the prophets.

Coins Mentioning Herod the Great

Herod the Great (73 BC - 4 BC)

Joseph and Mary's Return to Israel

When King Herod the Great had died an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream in Egypt and told him to go back to the land of Israel because all those who sought to kill Jesus were dead. Joseph obeyed the Lord and they began the journey back to Israel.

Archelaus Ruling in Judea

Joseph was apparently contemplating where to bring Jesus, and when he learned that Archelaus was ruling in Judea he decided to go in another direction, after being warned by God in another dream.

Archelaus Coin

Herod Archelaus (27 BC - 18 AD)

Joseph and Mary Settle in Nazareth

The Bible reveals that Joseph took his family to Galilee in northern Israel, to a city called Nazareth. This city would become the home of Jesus throughout His early years growing up. One could stand on a hillside in Nazareth and see many of the historical landmarks, or a major highway of many travelers passing by. Nazareth means "branch" and is reminiscent of Jesus' lineage, a "branch" of king David. Nazareth was a part of the tribe of Zebulun and the prophet Isaiah foretold that the light of the messiah would dawn in this area first.

"at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Isaiah 9:1-2

Map of Nazareth in the Land of Israel

Painting of Nazareth in 1842 by Roberts

Jesus Grows Strong in Spirit

The Bible reveals that Jesus grew up full of the Spirit of God and wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. It is important to understand that Jesus had to grow as a physical man in stature, and also had to grow up and learn the world around Him as any other man, but He was full of the Holy Spirit and learned wisdom in everything directly from God.

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." - Luke 2:40

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." - Luke 2:52

Theological Insight

Even though Jesus was God, when He came He set aside the attributes of Deity (all-knowing, all-powerful, etc.) yet He was still almighty God by nature. The Father was "greater" than Him while He was on earth, but it never says the Father was "better" than Him, because by nature Jesus was Jehovah (Yahweh), the eternal God. This is the mystery of the incarnation. You can read Paul's definition in Philippians 2:5-11.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:5-11

The Boy Jesus Comes to the Temple in Jerusalem

During the time of the Passover in Israel, it was important for Jews to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover feast and make a sacrifice at the Temple. The Bible reveals that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the Passover every year, and this time Jesus was 12 years old. The journey to Jerusalem was a very long and difficult journey and many families traveled in a caravan. Once the Passover festivals were over and their time in Jerusalem came to an end Joseph and Mary made their journey back to Nazareth, and on their way they could not find Jesus for a whole day. When they realized that they would not find him they went back to Jerusalem, and they found him in the Temple at the place of the discussions with the doctors of the law. Everyone was astonished at the knowledge of the young boy.

"And when they 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 said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Lk 2:48-49

Painting of an Ancient Caravan

The Dwelling Place of God

The Temple in Jerusalem was an architectural wonder, having been built by Herod the Great, one of the greatest architects of the ancient world. The Jews referred to it as the "Second Temple" because the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in 586 BC. The location of the Temple was very significant, the holy of holies rested upon the exact place where David bought the threshing floor of Auranah. Throughout Jewish history the High-priest would enter the holy of holies once per year on Yom Kippur and sprinkle the sacrificial blood between the cherubim upon the mercy seat, which was the lid on the Ark of the Covenant, and inside of it was the law of God. The presence of the Lord was called the "Shekinah" and the glory would fill the Temple. The Lord referred to the Temple as His "dwelling place".

Herod's Temple

See Herod's Temple for a more detailed description

The Temple in Jerusalem was eventually destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD as foretold by Jesus. Now the dwelling place of God is in the body of every believer, which He calls "The Temple of the Holy Spirit."