August 30, 2009

The Nazareth Synagogue - 12

For the sake of argument, let's assume Jesus ("Is this not the carpenter?") only had access to scripture on Saturdays, which happens to be all that we can say for certain. How can that account for the wisdom he displayed in Jerusalem at age 12? And how would that fit into the rest of what we know about his development?

First, do the math. By my calculation, Jesus passed over 500 Sabbaths from the day he saw Nazareth until his Passover visit at age twelve (in March of 7 AD, some months after Archelaus was exiled). Ten years of Sabbaths is enough time for a very small child to grow into a very impressive twelve year old, IF that child paid very close attention because of a deeply held passion for any and every thing that was of God. (Hold that thought briefly.)

What we see in the Lord's age twelve episode is an impressive degree of focus - we might even say fixation - on the "business" of God. As that business seemed to include listening and asking Rabbinical questions about God's Laws, we should expect that twelve year old was very much interested in the ways of the Synagogue. In fact, it becomes plainer and plainer that the only shockingly inconsistent fact here is that he kept all that insight to himself when he went back to Nazareth. (Hold that thought too, for a bit longer.)

The age twelve episode also reveals some awareness of a unique personal Sonship to God as his Father. It doesn't matter how we define this. A young Jewish boy considered God his personal Father in some unique way. That should be enough to convince us that this kid was passionately wrapped up in this whole God thing. His entire self-definition, sense of purpose, direction and identity, was completely summed up by one simple reference to his Father. (It was never about the "business". It was always about the Father.)

It is that focus, that healthy obsession - *(and it was healthy, because it was balanced, because he was able to obey his parents and leave Jerusalem immediately - which we should see as one more gracious provision of God for his Son, during his development)* - that genuine and utter worship of his Father that possessed and inspired Jesus to pay close attention each Sabbath day in the Nazareth Synagogue, focusing on each reading of Law and Prophets acutely in terms of what it had to do with the Father, above anything else. Furthermore, Jesus must have maintained this practice in earnest for many years before he became proficient in communing spiritually, mystically, with the One he already adored.

In that process of worshiping God, Jesus also learned scripture. But how did he learn the scriptures so well, just from Saturday meetings? At the risk of repeating a key point once too often - Jesus must have been paying attention.

To be continued...

Series Update: The Nazareth Synagogue
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

4 comments:

Rick Wadholm Jr. said...

While I in no way can completely corroborate that these claims are accurate, I was fascinated this last year to take a class with a renowned Islamic scholar who informed me of the ability of many of the Fundamentalist leaders within recent Islamic history as having memorized the entire Qur'an by the age of 12 (and this without learning to read it, but only to recite it). So I find your proposal to be highly probable concerning Jesus the Nazarene.

By the way, are you bloggin on the issue of Nazareth as a part of a book or is this really just a passion of yours? I find the reading remarkable, insightful and well-done. If you aren't considering trying to get your work published, may I recommend that you do so?

Bill said...

I'm working on something, Rick. Self-publishing for starters, unless you know somebody who knows somebody. ;-)

Thanks for the great feedback and encouragement here. As we say back home - 'preciate ya. :-)

Rick Wadholm Jr. said...

I would seriously consider not self-publishing (not that there aren't advantages to doing so), but it is possible you could submit a manuscript to a publisher ('Zondervan' for instance) and see what they say. I don't personally have any contacts, but do have several friends who are in the midst of writing books they are currently contracted to write. It is possible you could do something like this with this very topic. Just a thought...

Bill said...

Right now I need time more than I need contracts. Got a spare, fat truckload of cash? ;-)

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