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December 26, 2017

Good morning and Merry Christmas. That's correct! It is now Christmas. The season of Christmas does not actually begin until Christmas Day. You have heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas?" That's because there are twelve days beginning with Christmas Day. The days leading up to Christmas Day are the days of Advent. So Merry Christmas! 


When we were last together we looked at the birth of Jesus. Today, let's look at the childhood of Jesus. "Oh, but there is not much to go on," one might say. That is true, but fortunately the Gospel of Luke gives us more detail than the other three gospels. We are told: "On the eighth day, it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male is to  be consecrated to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two pigeons." (Luke 2: 21-24) In this passage we learn something about Mary and Joseph. According to Leviticus 12:8: "These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. If she cannot afford a lamb; she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons..." Mary and Joseph brought two doves and two young pigeons. Now, according to Leviticus 5:11 if one could not afford two doves or two pigeons then the offering could be what was equivalent of a pancake. (flour mixture) It is here that we discover Mary and Joseph to have not been able to afford a lamb, but were not among the poorest of the poor. 


We know that Jesus and his parents lived in Nazareth. Jesus, therefore, grew up in a small town. Nazareth comes from the Hebrew word "netzer" which means "branch or shoot." The town itself, according to scholars, probably had a population of four hundred or less, and was not a place well thought of. The question was asked: "Can there be anything good come from Nazareth?"  We also know that Joseph was a carpenter, but in that day this may have meant that he was an artisan. What is interesting is that artisans were not at the bottom of the social strata. Those who made up the poor class were tenant farmers, shepherds,and agricultural workers. 


Luke also gives us a glimpse OF Jesus at the age of twelve. "Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom." (Luke 2:41-42) If you are familiar with the story this is where Jesus stayed behind at the temple. Yes, Jesus' parents went off and left Jesus at the temple without realizing it. Did this make them bad parents? Or, did they just do what many parents have threatened to do? Lol! We are told that "Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers." (Luke 2:47) Why this story? Luke has the story of Jesus begin and end at the temple. (We will discover more about this later) The temple and Jerusalem are critical to the story that Luke is telling. This is somewhat ironic because Luke is writing to a Gentile audience. (again, more about this later.) 


So, why are we not told more about the childhood of Jesus? A scholar by the name of Dr. David Instone-Brewer concluded that ancient biographers rarely wrote about the childhood of the people they chronicled. Their custom was to detail the birth of the subject, the adult life, and then their deaths. Unless there was something unusual about the subject's upbringing the author did not mention his/her youth. So, does this mean that there was nothing unusual about the childhood of Jesus? Well, we do know that according to Luke in Chapter two, Jesus did amaze those who were in his company. Also, Luke tells us that Jesus was "sitting among the teachers." (Luke 2:46) Jesus' posture, "sitting," indicated that he assumed the posture of a teacher. But, this is as far as Luke let's us look into Jesus' childhood. Interestingly enough, the Book of Hebrews tells us something that we need to consider in light of what Dr. Instone-Brewer shared: "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy  him who holds the power of death...For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way..." (Hebrews 2:14,17) 


Well, there are other sources that do exist that give some insight to the early years of Jesus. However, they are not found in our scriptures, therefore we will not examine them. They are, however, very interesting readings. 


I want to thank you once again for joining me for these little daily studies. I am going to take a few days off and I will start posting again January 2nd. I hope you have a great week and may you have a Happy and Blessed New Year. -Pastor Rick 












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Madison United Methodist Church is affiliated with the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To learn more about WVAC, please visit www.wvumc.org. 

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