The lost years of Jesus
When Jesus was 12 years old Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When they returned home he stayed behind but they didn’t notice at first because they thought he was somewhere among the group they have traveled with. It took them three days to discover he was gone and then return to Jerusalem to find 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. (Luke 2:46,47)
The next recorded incident in the life of Jesus was his baptism by John the Baptist, which took place when he was 30 years old. What was he doing during the 18 years between these two events? There has been a lot of speculation about this. One theory, held by many, is that he spent the time in India or Tibet studying Buddhism. Another is that he traveled to Britain and learned from the Druids. A third is that he spent the time among the Essenes near the Dead Sea. The one thing all these theories have in common is that they claim Jesus was acquiring the knowledge he would display when he began to teach publicly.
Even though it doesn’t speak of these years directly, the Bible does tell us what he was doing. Here is what happened when he returned to Nazareth.
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. (Mark 6:1-3)
The citizens of Nazareth didn’t know him as someone who was just returning after leaving at the age of 12. Their remarks show he had grown up in their town, learned carpentry from Joseph, and worked as a carpenter. Apparently he had never had any kind of formal theological training, which made them wonder about the source of his knowledge.
So how did he acquire the knowledge he later displayed? The learning process began before he reached the age of 12. “And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Jesus grew up among the people to whom God had revealed truth through the scriptures. Jesus didn’t need to travel to a distant country to find the truth. Any truths found among the Buddhists, Druids, and Essenes are found unmixed with error in the Word of God.