August 12, 2007

Year-by-Year: 7 AD

Jesus visits Jerusalem 2 months before his Bar-mitzvah. Mary & Joseph lose Jesus for three days, after the Festival. Rome begins direct taxation of Judea. And Tiberius & Germanicus fight the rebellion in Illyricum.

In January of 7 AD, Southern Israel belonged to Rome!

At this point, Quirinius was still Governor of Syria. Rome’s Procurator in Judea was Coponius. The High Priest of Jerusalem was Annas the Sadducee. Up north, the Galileans were still under Herod Antipas, the tetrarch. But Judea was now free from all the Herods, since last year.

The Southern Jews had no other King but Caesar.


In March, Joseph & Mary went to the Passover Festival, as usual. But this year, with Archelaus gone, Joseph finally felt like it was safe to take Jesus along.

So, for the first time since they fled from Bethlehem, Joseph & Mary bring their boy back into Judea. Now, the last time Jesus saw Jerusalem he was an infant. But that was nearly thirteen years ago!

This time, the Lord is twelve years old.


The Feast began on the evening of March 21st. [1]

Most pilgrims had to come in days ahead of time, just to get a place. Like others, Joseph & Mary shared the cost with family and other travelers. But once the room was rented, there wasn’t much to do except wait for the feast. Mostly, people just sat around visiting with relatives.

Now, the city was crowded beyond all description. The streets were not safe for children. But Jesus got at least two good chances to get out of the house. The first was early in their trip, when Joseph had to go buy a perfect, unspotted lamb.[2] And the second chance was when Joseph had to go present that lamb at the Temple, on the morning of the 21st. [3]

Now, we don’t know if Jesus went to the Temple that day, but we do know this:

If Jesus did go, Joseph didn’t get the impression that the young man cared much about being there!

As a matter of fact, Jesus did nothing all week to make his parents think he cared about seeing the Temple. He didn’t seem eager to go see the rituals. He didn’t ask many questions or seem to want to learn more. The Lord didn’t say anything that sounded like he was at all interested in going up to Herod’s Temple! And whenever the subject came up, Jesus just acted like he didn’t care much about the Temple at all!

And how do we know all this? Because during this trip, Joseph & Mary formed a surprising new opinion about Jesus, the child they knew was God’s Son.

They came to believe that the Temple was the last place they’d ever find Jesus, in that city! [4]

Anyway, Joseph went to the Temple on the morning of the Preparation Day. He went there with or without a certain uninterested young Lord. There, in the Temple, thousands of lambs were being slaughtered.[5]

That night at sundown, the Jews in every household ate roasted lamb with bitter herbs & flat bread. For the next seven days, they followed many other Passover traditions as well.

Joseph, Mary & Jesus spent two weeks[6] in Jerusalem. During that time, Jesus’ parents made one other observation about their son. They noticed he spent a lot of time talking with others! In fact, the Lord spent more time with people in the house than he did with Joseph or Mary.

These two observations – that Jesus didn’t seem interested in the Temple, but he was very friendly with other travelers – are very important.

These two things Joseph & Mary noticed explain everything that happens next…


The out-of-towners all left Jerusalem on the morning of March 29th. Joseph & Mary began walking home in a caravan of family & friends. But Jesus was not with his parents.

Still, Joseph & Mary didn’t think that was unusual.

Jesus’ parents just assumed he was somewhere else in the caravan. Mary liked thinking that Jesus had made some new friends. And Joseph expected they’d find him at the end of the day, when everyone was making camp.

Evening came. Camps formed. Joseph & Mary went up and down the roads calling for Jesus. But they couldn’t find anyone who had seen him since early morning.

Joseph & Mary were upset, but they had to sleep. The next morning, they woke up about 20 miles outside of Jerusalem and began walking back. So Jesus’ parents were in Jerusalem again before sundown of the 30th.

They started searching the city that afternoon. Joseph & Mary were frantic, looking everywhere! They looked into the night of that second day, and all day long on the 31st.

Joseph & Mary spent over 24 hours searching Jerusalem before they even thought to go look at the Temple! They were actually convinced that was the last place they’d ever find Jesus.

But the truth was – they just didn’t understand their son very well.


Back on the morning of the 29th, Jerusalem had changed, ever so slightly.

For two weeks, the Jewish Pilgrims had swarmed all over the Temple. Every Jew acted like a devoted follower, at Passover. But truly, many never gave their God a second thought on other days. Even the local Jerusalemites seemed more devoted during the Festival than after it.

And then, in a flash, the crowds were gone. The Temple courts went back to normal again. The non-stop daily show of customs & rituals was over. Things were a little quieter. Far fewer people visited the Temple courtyard at all.

The crowd in the Temple after Passover was different. People were more likely to have some kind of a real devotion for being there. And then, of those people, some of them actually cared for the Lord!

The day all the Pilgrims quit going into the Temple was the day Jesus went there. [7]

That Tuesday, when Joseph & Mary were leaving Jerusalem, Jesus had slipped away. Still just a child in men’s eyes, the Lord walked up to the Temple Courtyard.

He spent the whole day there, just talking to people.

The second day was Wednesday, March 30th. [8] While Joseph & Mary were on their way back, Jesus was still at the Temple.

By this time, some Rabbis had met Jesus. He listened when they held their study groups. Still a child, he sat extra patiently. But at times, he asked questions. Jesus didn’t try to start teaching, himself. But the Rabbis were amazed at his questions.

By the third day, March 31st, Jesus was surrounded by a whole group of Rabbis. One twelve year old held the full focus of grown, learned men! And still, he was asking them questions. Still, the Lord Jesus was humble. He did not try to act like they needed his teaching.

But he could have. Because they did!

After a while, the Rabbis started asking Jesus questions. And the Lord answered them. Jesus still wasn’t teaching. He was just talking and listening. But the young man revealed great understanding. The old men could see Jesus had deep understanding, about God and his ways.

Overall, people were simply amazed. Actually, that’s our best hint as to why Jesus went there.

Whatever else was true, we know this. Jesus was simply being there, talking with people about God. And it was having a big effect on them. Jesus was challenging them to consider their God in a deeper way.

As a matter of fact, that’s all Jesus ever did, for the rest of his life, as often as he ever got the chance. Talking to people and challenging them to move more towards God.

Those were his two biggest things.


So Joseph & Mary spent over 24 hours searching the city, from March 30th thru the 31st. They looked everywhere, all over Jerusalem. But they did not think Jesus would be in the Temple… until they ran out of other places to look.

After that third day was over, Joseph & Mary finally went to the Temple. Still, they didn’t really expect to find Jesus there, and they were shocked when they did! [9]

Mary pulled Jesus aside and spoke to him alone. She said, “Child, why did you do this to us? Just look at your father and I, we’ve been worried sick, looking for you!”

Then Jesus said, “Why were you even looking for me? Didn’t you know I’d have to be in the things of my Father?”

This didn’t make any sense to Joseph or Mary.[10] They really, truly, deeply did not understand what he was doing there. But they knew it made them lose three days!

Joseph & Mary told Jesus it was time to leave. So the twelve year old Lord got up. He obeyed his earthly parents. And they started walking back to Nazareth.

It took five long days, walking back to Galilee. Since most other Pilgrims were already off the roads, Joseph had to find a place to rent a room every night. It just wasn’t wise for a man, woman and child to sleep along the roadside alone.

Joseph was grumbling the whole time about all the extra time and expense. But Jesus’ mother was still just amazed by what Jesus had done. All the way home, her emotions were totally caught up in what he’d said to her.

Mary didn’t understand anything about it. But she didn’t let it go. Jesus’ mother kept all of it inside her heart.

And thru the years, as Jesus grew older, she began to understand him a little bit better…


Now, this is important: No one in Nazareth knew what Jesus had done in the Temple!

All the other Nazarene Pilgrims were over half-way home before Jesus was done there. And his parents didn’t tell anyone what he’d been doing when they found him. People who knew Mary & Joseph were just glad to know that they’d found him. And nothing else was ever said about those three days… at least, not in Nazareth.

And then, two months after that Passover, Jesus turned thirteen! By Jewish custom, the Lord was now a man. So naturally, the whole town expected him to join the synagogue.

On Saturday, June 4th (the first Sabbath after the Lord’s Bar-mitzvah) Jesus obeyed his parents and went to the Synagogue. The young man sat on the main floor, near the other men. But women and children had to sit in the balcony area.

Near the end of the service, the Rabbi called Jesus by name. So the Lord stood to be recognized.

Mary & Joseph braced themselves. They were waiting to see if Jesus was going to make as big a scene now, in Nazareth, as he’d done after Passover, in Jerusalem. But nothing happened.

The Rabbi called Jesus’ name, mentioned his birthday, and welcomed him into the adult community. Then Jesus sat down. And that was pretty much the last time anyone noticed him there for another twenty-two years! [11]

To obey his parents, Jesus kept attending the Synagogue. But he never spoke up there. Most people in the Synagogue didn’t even know who he was, except as a part of his family. And Jesus mostly left them alone, too.

For some reason, Jesus didn’t feel like he needed to “do his Father’s things” there in Nazareth.


From 7 AD on, the Lord lived very quietly in Nazareth.

Jesus acted respectfully as a young man of the community, but he never did or said much that was noteworthy. As a matter of fact, he grew up without much reputation at all! He did nothing and said nothing that drew others to notice or admire him.

Not in his teens or his twenties. Not in Nazareth.

Jesus knew his time had not yet come. He also knew nobody ever listened to a hometown boy speaking prophecies. So the Lord was content to live and grow quietly in Nazareth for another two decades, plus some!

But of course, Jesus was far from alone. By 7 AD, Jesus had learned how to share everything with his Father, by the Spirit inside of him.[12]

Jesus hadn’t amazed the Jews in the Temple on his own. The Lord, by age twelve, had learned to hear God speaking inside him. The understanding and insight he showed in Jerusalem came from that experience – from knowing his Father in spirit.

And that experience kept going on, after 7 AD…


Jesus wasn’t exactly your typical teenager!

Six days a week, Jesus worked with Joseph in his carpenter’s workshop. Every day, whatever Jesus was cutting, molding or joining, he shared that experience with his Father.

One day, when Jesus went to cut down a tree, the Father told him to look at the tree. And Jesus remembered being with his Father before Creation. In that moment, Jesus remembered when his Father and He had made the first Tree!

Another day, Jesus was with his mother. And Mary was feeling sentimental and told him, “The Mighty One did a great thing when he brought you to me.” And Jesus remembered the Love his Father had for this woman, when He chose her to bear Him.

Most Saturdays, Jesus obeyed his parents and went to the Synagogue. The Synagogue Ruler would always read from Scripture. But Jesus wasn’t listening to him.

Jesus was listening to his Father.

If the Synagogue Ruler read Isaiah, Jesus would turn inside himself and hear his Father, speaking that scripture to Him. Or sometimes, Jesus would remember the day He and his Father had written that scripture, by speaking to their prophets, back in those days.

And every time anyone stood up to read scripture in the Synagogue, Jesus had blinding wisdom and stunning insight he could have shared about it. But he didn’t share any of it there, in the Synagogue!

For the next 22 years, Jesus kept it all to himself.

That is, he shared it all with his Dad.

Jesus had amazed the Rabbis of Jerusalem. But he laid low in Nazareth. Now, we may never know all the reasons he did that, but that’s what he did! Jesus Christ was not doing anything special in Galilee… and there’s only one decent guess as to why.

He did it that way simply because it pleased the Father.

By this age, already, Jesus didn’t know any other reason to do anything.


Year by year, Jesus kept on growing up.

He spent his teen years getting taller, stronger, and better at doing things in the world. He worked quietly with his hands, in his town. He learned how to earn men’s good graces. But Jesus’ name was never well known, in Nazareth.

Nobody paid much attention to Jesus of Nazareth, during his teens and his twenties.

But Jesus was growing in more ways than one. More than anything else, Jesus was seeking his Father. Every day, Jesus talked and listened and loved being with his Father, in their Spirit.

For the next twenty-two years, Jesus is going to live like God intended the first Man and Woman to live, on the Earth! Jesus thrived on every moment he got with his Father. He worshiped his Father. His Life was spent purely in service to Him. Just to Him. All to Him.

All this time, the Father kept growing prouder and prouder of Jesus. Truly, God became more and more pleased with his Son in each passing year.

In other words, Jesus was growing in favor with God.


That’s all we have to say about the Lord’s life on earth, before 28 AD. Read it again and again, because that’s how he lived it. But you’ll have to come back to this Year Book, to read it.

The next twenty Year Books (sadly) are mostly just world events. Feel free to skim them, or skip them, or not. But at least know this much…

Time kept on ticking, while Jesus grew up.


One big “non-event” happened in Israel, in 7 AD.

Early this summer, after Passover & Pentecost, Rome took its first direct tax of South Israel. The non-event was… there were absolutely no problems whatsoever.

The Roman takeover, from last year, proved to be secure.

Speaking of last year, the Proconsul Quirinius stayed for a very short term as Governor of Syria. (He leaves either this year or next.)[13] And after Quirinius leaves, the whole region – Syria & Palestine – is going to keep stable for about twenty years![14]

There are no more big problems to speak of in Israel, for the rest of the reign of Augustus.

But plenty was happening elsewhere!


This year, 7 AD, was the second year of the revolt in Illyricum.

The Roman General Tiberius (Augustus’ heir) held seven Legions blocking the roads into Italy, all winter long. But Augustus & the Senate decided seven Legions wasn’t enough!

In the Spring of 7 AD, Plautius Silvanus brought Legions V & VII from Galatia. Silvanus came near Moesia and joined Caecina Severus who brough Legion IV. The Thracian King Rhoemetalces also added his army to their forces. And Tiberius sent two of his own Legions East (around enemy territory) to help bring these new forces back through Pannonia.[15]

These Five Legions marched West, together with the Thracians. They survived one major attack by the Illyrian Rebels and made it safely to Tiberius, at Siscia, by Summer.

Augustus had also ordered Germany’s Legions to send extra troops to Illyricum.[16] The Emperor even sent his grand-nephew Germanicus (2nd in line for the Empire). Caesar raised new cohorts of freedmen from Italy and sent them up to the war with Germanicus.

Now, all of these forces came together under Tiberius & Germanicus. By mid-year, the Romans had about a hundred thousand troops in the Province. All the soldiers were very encouraged by their new strength in numbers. But a few days after the last reinforcements got there, the General split them all up again!

Tiberius didn’t try attacking any Illyrian rebels this year. He knew their fields were still bare (see 6 AD), but that Rome kept on sending fresh grain for the Legions. With this huge advantage, the 47 year old General kept his main strategy going, from last year. He waited!

The Legions were sent to make winter camps almost before Autumn.

But Germanicus made his own plans![17]


At age 21, the son of Drusus Germanicus was eager to follow in his father’s conquering footsteps. So the young man took advantage of the special status Augustus gave him in the war.

Germanicus took a large group of cohorts down into Dalmatia and harassed some southern rebels there. Then he made it back to Tiberius before winter.

The young Commander gained experience in skirmishes and light action. But Germanicus fought no major battles… at least, not this year.


Meanwhile, the United Illyrian Rebels were starting to break apart at the seams.
The famine was the main problem. There was so little food, one of the largest tribes, the Mazaei, left the Mountain Base and went home! (The Mazaei are the southern tribe Germanicus attacked.)

The Rebels’ other problem was their leaders. Bato the Breucian and the southern Bato were not getting along! After less than a year of working together, the two Batos couldn’t agree anymore! So now, aside from no food, and a shrinking Army, there was no plan of action for most of the year.

Except for the springtime attack on Silvanus & Severus, the Batos did almost nothing, in 7 AD. This was a big change from last year, when Bato drove his Dalmatian forces with such strength and vision.

Bit by bit, the southern Bato began to despise his more small minded namesake, the Breucian.
The United Rebels are going to stay on their Mountain Base all year, and into the winter. But next year, in 8 AD, some decisions are going to be made.


That’s all for Illyricum. Now for a quick stop in Germany.

In January, Gaius Sentius Saturninus was still in charge of the Rhine Legions. But in July, the Upper German Province welcomed a new Governor… one with a semi famous name.

The stage of History is now pleased to welcome back: the Proconsul Publius Quinctillius Varus!

Oddly, Varus replaces Saturninus as Provincial Governor in Germany, just like Varus replaced Saturninus in Syria (in 6 BC). And just like last time, the new Governor is going to spend three years in his province. But the challenge Varus has to face in Germany is going to make his war in Israel (4 BC) look like a sneeze!

An enormous disaster is on the way for Varus… and for Rome.

In two years, this disaster will change the course of Western History.


For the moment, Rome had enough trouble just getting thru 7 AD!

The Emperor stayed worried about the war in Illyricum. Plus now, Caesar was starting to feel paranoid that Tiberius kept sitting on a hundred thousand troops, doing nothing! This year, Augustus began to think seriously about pulling his adopted son out of the war.

Meanwhile, the famine came back. And voices spoke out against the Emperor when he officially banished his grandson (Posthumous Agrippa) to the island of Planasia.[18] And of course, Augustus was still dealing with his many unsolved problems from last year.

The Emperor of the Civilized World turned 69 years old, before Winter.

For Caesar, these years just seemed to be getting worse and worse…

Next Year Book: 8 AD

Begin Footnotes:

[1] Passover Night always starts at sundown after the 13th day of Nissan, since sundown begins the next day.

[2] The family would keep the lamb alive during their stay, until the time of its sacrifice. Before that day, the children got to hold the lamb and pet it and help keep it clean. But after their new pet was sacrificed for them, they would help eat it!

[3] That day was called the Preparation Day. All Jewish men had to visit the Temple before sundown. At age 12, Jesus was not yet considered a man, but Joseph would naturally have invited him to come along, as a way of including him with the men. At the very least, it was a chance to get out!
[4] If you don’t already know the story, keep reading. This fact will become evident after the festival ends.

[5] It doesn’t matter if Jesus did or didn’t go – Joseph still formed the distinct impression that he wasn’t that into it. But just imagine if Jesus at least walked thru the Temple Courtyard with Joseph on that Preparation Day! Here’s the Lamb of God, at twelve years old, watching hundreds of lambs be slain for Israel’s sins, and yet none of their blood was a permanent sacrifice before God. Imagine, if Jesus saw this, what his Father must have been saying to him, inside of him, as Joseph took him through it all. And now, just imagine what might have been on Jesus’ face, to give Joseph the impression his boy didn’t like being there! But whatever else happened that day, Jesus also wasn’t interested in the outward ritual of the Jewish sacrifices. Whatever else we know, we know for sure that Jesus was paying more attention to the Father inside of him, than he was to the religion around him. (Events later in this Year Book show that Jesus was already hearing his Father’s voice within.)

[6] The days of unleavened bread lasted for a week – the second week of the pilgrims’ stay in Jerusalem.
[7] Yes, as an adult visiting the Festival, there will be a couple of times when Jesus seeks out the crowds full of pilgrims, but there will still be many quieter times, like this one. So it seems the Lord had different goals at various times. Anyway, this year he’s only twelve. And this time, he avoided the large crowds of pilgrims!
[8] We don’t know where he slept, or what he ate! Apparently, he wasn’t worried about those things… at age 12, he already knows that His Father will take care of him. So what did he do? Maybe he slept in the Temple courtyard. We know Anna the Prophetess was doing that, back when he was born. So some people were allowed to sleep on the ground there. (It wasn’t’ paved yet.) And what did he eat? Maybe he fasted. Or maybe kind people brought him food. Or maybe he went to the market each day, if Joseph had given him any money to hold. Whatever he did, he relied on his Father. But each day, he was at the Temple…
[9] Luke’s used two different Greek words to tell how the people were amazed, but Mary & Joseph were astonished (or vice versa, depending on your translation.) In Greek, both words can mean ‘amazed’ or ‘driven from ones senses’. But the word for Mary & Joseph’s amazement literally means ‘struck senseless by a sudden shock’. By the way, the other word that describes the people’s feeling, literally, means to ‘displace’, ‘change’, or ‘alter utterly’. So Jesus was affecting the people. But his parents were simply dumbstruck! Also, Luke doesn’t say the crowds were what shocked them. He said, “and seeing him, they were shocked.”

[10] No kidding! Aside from what most translations read, the Lord did not say, “I had to be in my Father’s house”. The original scripture does not say the word “house”. No, and besides – if Jesus had said that, he would have made been making sense!!! But Luke clearly says they didn’t understand what he was talking about. (So what was he talking about?) The translations that read, “about my Father’s business” are better, because Joseph & Mary would still be confused as to what “business” he meant. But the scripture’s actual wording is very odd. It says, “Why [is it] that you were seeking me? Didn’t you know that in the [_____] of my Father it is needed for me to be?” Now, the most literal translators fill that blank with the word “things” or “affairs”, which is good, but very strictly, it only says, “Didn’t you know that I had to be in the of my Father?” Talk about not making sense! No wonder they didn’t understand him!!! What is “in the of my Father”? Hmm? Lord Jesus… (!) But the one thing we can say for sure is that Jesus’ focus was purely on his Father. He wasn’t talking about a special building and he wasn’t talking about any particular task. It was just Him and His Father. They were doing their thing(s)!
[11] When Jesus finally speaks in the Nazareth Synagogue, in 29 AD, they all say (basically) “Who is this?” (!)
[12] Jesus didn’t amaze the Jerusalem teachers because he was repeating things he heard at the local Synagogue in Nazareth. The depth of his awareness in the Temple this year proves that, by some point before now, Jesus was actively communicating with his Father in spiritual ways… and had been for some time. But that doesn’t mean God was ready to call him “fully gorwn”. Jesus has another 21 years to practice knowing his Father as a man, before he goes to get baptized by John. How profound is this? Complete awareness of God at age 12, plus another two decades to ripen in that knowledge. Astounding! (Truly, the ways of God are far beyond the ways of man.)
[13] This spring or next, Quirinius sent a Legion against the Itureans in Lebanon. (ILS ___ - see Milar.) But that’s the last real action in Quirinius’ whole career. The Roman Governor leaves Antioch this summer or next, and some other Roman Proconsul takes his place in Syria. But there are no other events to report in Syria, of these years. For the record, the next Governor of Syria we know by name is Creticus Silanus (Gov.11-17 AD). But his term will be uneventful, too!

[14] No significant armed conflict is going to touch Syria or Palestine itself until the 30’s AD.

[15] Velleius says Silvanus & Severus get attacked while encamped with five Legions, but we know they only brought three from the East. So Tiberius must have sent two in support, to help the new three get to Siscia..

[16] We count only ten Legions assigned to the province for this war, but Suetonius says there were fifteen. The only possible solution is that Five additional Legions sent detachments (which also helps a bit in adding up the seventy extra cohorts mentioned by Velleius). Therefore, Tiberius had ten full Legions, but fifteen total Legions were represented in his forces, overall.

[17] Germanicus was Tiberius’ nephew, adopted son, and rival for Augustus’ favor – even though he was still behind Tiberius in line for the Empire. Now, part of the reason Augustus sent Germanicus to Illyricum this year was because he felt paranoid about Tiberius sitting on so many forces at once, especially since the General was taking so long to finish things. The Emperor decided Germanicus would help Tiberius ‘stay honest’ and gave him special autonomy in the war. So, the point is, Germanicus could make his own plans!
[18] Posthumous, remember, had been disowned and sent to Surrentum for misbehaving towards his adopted parents (Augustus & Livia).

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