The lost years
Luke’s gospel describes something that happened when Jesus was 12 years old.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
The next thing Luke tells is the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of his public ministry.
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age.
A lot of people have wondered what Jesus was doing in the 18 years between these two events. Here are two of the theories they have come up with.
A theory dating back to the Middle Ages suggests that Jesus of Nazareth traveled to Britain in his youth, settling in Priddy, Somerset, and building the first wattle cabin in Glastonbury.
During the late 12th century, Joseph of Arimathea, the man who donated his own tomb for the burial of Jesus after crucifixion, became connected with the Arthurian cycle – a group of stories centered about King Arthur – appearing in them as the first keeper of the Holy Grail, which he had received from an apparition of Jesus.
Legend has it that Joseph supposedly took Christ under his wing years earlier when his mother Mary was widowed.
Theologian Gordon Strachan believed Jesus may have traveled to Britain to study with the Druids – an ancient order of mysterious Celtic priests.
Easter approaches, and readers of the Huffington Post should know about the accumulation of evidence that Jesus spent part of his life in India — which parts, and how long, or even whether this happened, are much-debated by many scholars and religious leaders. However, after four years of work on the film Jesus in India(Sundance Channel / US – Showtime / Australia) which took me to three continents and to experts from all the major religions, my position is that although a final verdict is not yet in for Jesus in India as a concept and theory and new direction in religious thought, where there is smoke there is often fire — and I’ve been wading through the smoke for years.
There are other theories. One is that he spent the missing years in Egypt and another was that he spent the time among the Essenes.
What all of the theorists overlook is the fact that the Bible does tell us where Jesus spent the “lost” years. The story of his experience at age twelve ends with this sentence: “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” This shows that he went back to Nazareth and grew up just as any other boy his age would. Luke confirms this in his account of Jesus’ visit to Nazareth after he had begun his public ministry.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
The fact that he grew up in Nazareth explains why the people of that town rejected his teaching when so many others accepted it.
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
They had known him all of his life and they knew he had worked as a carpenter and not gone to any rabbinical schools or other centers of learning. This made it hard for them to accept the things he taught. If he hadn’t grown up in Nazareth they would have assumed that he had spent his time learning from other the things he taught them and they would probably have believed him.
Jesus didn’t need human teachers. He was both human and divine and his human nature was without sin. Sin is a barrier to understanding spiritual truth and communicating with God.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
The fact that Jesus increased in wisdom shows that he was born without knowledge, just as any human is. The fact that he was born without sin means that when he was mature enough to know the difference between right and wrong he always chose to do what is right. God always heard his prayers and when he learned to read the scriptures his understanding of them was perfect.