August 30, 2009

The Nazareth Synagogue - 14

It seems appropriate to end this series with the Nazarenes' geographical question from Jesus' second homecoming, in Matthew 13 & Mark 6. Where did he get this wisdom? By now we have formed an answer.

He got it in Nazareth. We know this because he had it by age twelve. Luke and Matthew together inform us that during the decade between leaving Egypt and attending his first Jerusalem Passover, Jesus' parents attended the spring festival every single year. That means Jesus was living there. If he had not traveled elsewhere before age twelve, and he had such wisdom from paying attention in something like 500 Sabbath meetings, then no one should think Jesus had to travel anywhere else for the next 1100 Sabbath meetings, or so, before his baptism by John.

John tells us that Jesus said he got all his teaching from the Father. Before that became directly mystical, it happened on Saturdays in the Synagogue. It happened because of a focus and an obsession that, evidently, he managed to keep totally private from the rest of the Jewish community in Nazareth. (That thought, again, needs to be held onto for some future post. For now we have merely accepted it, without attempting to explain it.)

This can probably all be accounted for by recalling the one scripture Jesus most certainly learned early in life, and the one he most certainly heard more often than all others. Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God is One. You should Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. An historical view of Jesus at age twelve, filtered through all that we can possibly reconstruct about the Nazareth Synagogue, tells us Jesus must have taken this scripture greatly to heart when he was still very young.

In our modern age of leisure, some kids give their entire self to a TV show, or to a baseball team, or to a friend, or to a famous musician. In first century Nazareth, ever since Jesus was a boy, He must have genuinely cared about his Father, God, more than he cared about anything else. He was not trying hard not to sin. He was simply, sincerely, in all of his ways, worshiping Him.

I'll say it again. The historical explanation of Jesus' life before age twelve must be that this common Jew cared about God to an uncommon degree.

Everything after age twelve until age thirty-four is a question for another series.

Maybe. :-)

The End (for now)

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


DaveG said...

You may have covered this elsewhere, but I think there was probably a more than significant contribution to Jesus early spiritual training by his (possibly self-educated) mother whose world revolved, initially anyway, around her precious child.

This is mostly conjecture, but a young girl visited in her mid-teens by angels and told she would bear the Messiah could have committed her life to and been greatly involved in his early education. Even to the point of becoming a worthy sounding board and debating partner for a clearly precocious child.

I do understand the potential concern his parents may have had about modifying God's plan for His son. But, do believe they would have been very interested in challenging him and supporting his investigation into who he was.

Just some thoughts--which would clearly be difficult to support with facts.

Am I projecting too many modern/western parents' motivations onto his parents?

Bill Heroman said...

Hey, Dave. It sounds like you read my response to your comment on post #9. I absolutely love imagining things, but I do try very hard to stick to what we can support by the scriptures and other evidence.

I do think you're probably projecting the economic values of upper middle class westerners, a bit. But that alone doesn't mean that you're wrong. ;-)

Let me turn it around. If you suppose Joseph & Mary did want his education maximized, why take him away from Jerusalem at age 12?

DaveG said...

Thanks. As you've been very clear about in many other places, Jesus parents would have been primarily concerned with his safety. As you have also most fascinatingly and graphically described, Jerusalem at that time was a hotbed of Herodian in-fighting, Roman battles with revolutionaries, revolts and uprisings that would/should have greatly concerned Joseph and Mary.

It is my belief that they vastly preferred the 'backwater' town of Nasareth, where there was also extended family to look after Jesus-regardless of the educational limitations it presented. His trip to Jerusalem, unexpected disappearance and the 'outing' of his depth of understanding to the temple leaders would have cemented their resolve to keep him far from Jerusalem and hidden from the public eye until God commanded otherwise.

...Just my perspective. Love what you're going with this. Wish there was more we could do to help!

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