Good morning, it is supposed to be around thirty degrees today. Can you say "Heat Wave?" Well, don't worry tomorrow is to be cold again. So, let's heat things up a bit this morning with our Bible study. Yesterday, we looked at the baptism of Jesus according to Luke, and we discovered that in Luke's gospel Jesus prays and the Holy Spirit comes upon him. (This is unique. Only Luke tells us this information.)
"Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry." (Luke 3:23a) I want to pause here for a moment. Only Luke gives us any detail as to the age of Jesus. Of course, he only says that Jesus was "about thirty." Therefore, we are not certain if he was thirty, or just looked thirty. I have seen some folks who looked sixty, but were in their thirties and I have seen some folks who look thirty, but are in their sixties. Of course, I look to be in my thirties, but....LOL!
Tradition holds that Jesus died around the age of thirty-three. This is based upon Luke's information above, plus information found in John's gospel. Luke tells us that Jesus began his ministry at age thirty. (or about thirty) Information found in John's gospel tells us that Jesus' earthly ministry lasted around three years. (based upon him making three annual trips to Jerusalem.) Therefore, we assume that he was thirty-three when he died. However, we can not say for certain that we know how old Jesus was. The problem lies in the fact that we are not given a specific age of Jesus to begin with. Another problem is information found in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) While Jesus makes three annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem in John, he only makes one in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Therefore, what we know is that Jesus' earthly ministry only lasted from one to three years.
Is it important that we know the age of Jesus? Well, not really, but...What we need to realize is that if Jesus did not appear at the River to be baptized, therefore beginning his ministry until he was thirty, he spent his entire life (with exception of 1-3 years) living in Nazareth. Yes, Jesus worked in the carpenter's shop all that time. (At least we are not told anything differently) While some believe that Jesus actually did miraculous things before baptism I do not. I don't believe he did anything until after his baptism and temptation. (It was at his baptism that God claimed Jesus as his Son)
There is something else interesting about knowing the age of Jesus. It has been discovered that the average life expectancy for a male Jew living in Jesus' time was twenty-seven. This is due to high infant death rates and other factors. Yes, there were those who did live many years. So, consider this; Jesus lived longer than the life expectancy of males. Oh, I hear it all the time; "Jesus was born to die!" I had a preacher friend who always said; "Most babies were born to live, this baby (Jesus) was born to die." Well, yes Jesus did die eventually, but he lived a full life before he did. Why do we never hear anyone proclaim; "Jesus lived for us?"
Now, for the second half of the verse: "He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph." (Luke 3:23b) Yep, people were talking. I can just hear them: "You know that boy that Joseph says is his? Well, I have been hearing that..." I can hear another: "Do you see any resemblance between that boy and Joseph?" Hmm, are you ready for something interesting? I hope so. Here we go! I have mentioned that Mark's Gospel was the first gospel written. In Mark, we discover no mention whatsoever of the birth narrative. In John's gospel there is no mention of the birth narrative. Early Christian preaching (the Book of Acts and the Letters of Paul) begin with, and are centered around, the death and resurrection of Jesus. For the early church there was no emphasis on Jesus' birth. However, Matthew and Luke (written much later than Mark) both give us a birth account. Why? I would suggest that it had to do with three reasons. One, human curiosity: Where did he come from? Who are his parents? When was he born? Two, There was the question as to the legitimacy of the child. Three, the stories hoped to counter the teaching of Gnostics who denied that Jesus was fully human.
Well, how can we know that there was a question about the legitimacy of the child? The evidence is hidden within scripture itself. We have already discovered that in Matthew Joseph claimed the child as his very own. (We said that paternity was legal and not biological) Now skipping ahead a little to John's Gospel we discover the Pharisees asking Jesus: "Where is your father?" (John 8:19) This, I believe, insinuates that Jesus' father is unknown at this particular time. Then the exchange of dialogue gets even more interesting: "Abraham is our father," they answer. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would..." (John 8:39) So, there is a back and forth session here in what could be titled: "Who's Your Daddy?" Then they respond to Jesus by saying: "We are not illegitimate children." (John 8:4b) Could their implication be: "We are not illegitimate like you?" Then there is yet one more piece of evidence. It is found back in Mark's gospel. (Remember I told you that we would return to those places we skipped over) In the sixth chapter of Mark Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching and asked: "Where did this man get these things? Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him." (Mark 6:2-3) Notice, here he is known as the son of Mary. Now, it is believed that Joseph died long before Jesus died on the cross. According to what we discover in Luke Joseph had to have lived at least until Jesus was twelve. So, was the statement above simply referring to the fact that Jesus' father was no longer alive? Well, I don't think so. Yesterday as I was walking into Kroger's (the first time around) I overheard two folks talking. (I wasn't ease dropping, they were just talking loudly) I heard the man say, "Yeah, I knew him, he was John's son." (I heard enough to assume that whoever John was he was dead) So, the person they were talking about they referred to as the son of the father who was deceased. Even today if I go back home there are those who still refer to me as Ronnie Swearengin's son. So, I don't believe this is what this is about. No, instead it is something else. To refer to a child as "Mary's son" (or whatever the mother's name was) was another way of saying that the father is...unknown. (in Jesus' culture)
Well, that is enough excitement for today. Tomorrow we will pick up right where we left off. Have a great day! -Pastor Rick