Summary: A sermon for Christmas
“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
I will state the obvious and say that people by nature need to know what radio personality, Paul Harvey, used to label ‘the rest of the story’. He would cite some commonly known event of history, then relate some obscure facts that either led up to that event or resulted from it, and end by saying ‘and now you know the rest of the story’.
In the case of Jesus of Nazareth the rest of the story is really the beginning of the story. The almost complete silence of the Bible concerning His youth and early adult years so tantalizes the curious that every once in a while someone writes an article or a book speculating about what the Bible does not say.
US News and World Report recently issued what they labeled a collector’s edition of their periodical, the theme of which was titled, “Secrets of the Bible”. If you’ve seen publications like this on the news stands and the racks next to the checkout counters at supermarkets, you will have an idea what type of articles are advertised on the cover for the purpose of piquing the shopper’s interest so they will purchase the magazine.
This one offered the titles, “How to Read the Bible”, “Searching for Eden”, “Legends of the Lost Ark”, “Why Angels Matter”, and “Jesus’ Early Years”.
Someone gave this magazine to my neighbor and when he had perused through its pages he passed it on to me.
I read the titles of the articles and looked at the many Renaissance paintings that were copied and sprinkled throughout, of chubby women and foppish men; sad-faced angels and naked grieving or suffering people [apparently the artists of the Renaissance thought that in ancient times if you were grieving or suffering you had to be naked]; but the only article I actually read was the one that presented the implied promise to answer the mysteries of the boyhood years of Jesus.
And yes, this article included what appeared to be a detail of some anonymous Renaissance painter’s depiction of Jesus as the painter imagined Him to be at around age 12-14. You might be interested to know that Jesus as a boy had shoulder length hair that He meticulously curled at the ends, (not just flipped up but spiraled), apparently plucked His eyebrows to make them thin and straight, had rosy red cheeks, and, well, if the picture wasn’t in an article about Jesus I would have thought I was looking at a painting of a young girl getting ready for her first prom.
Ok. Enough time wasted there. But in fact, my time reading the article was wasted also. The article was actually an excerpt from a book wherein the word ‘speculation’ or some form of it was used profusely, and the farther I read the clearer it became to me that the author neither believed in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, nor the veracity of the Gospel writers. He had Jesus being taught by the Pharisees who had taken him under their wings after His father, Joseph, died in a construction accident, and they never harassed or turned against Him. According to this article, the debates the Jews had with Jesus during His ministry were actually a compliment, as their questions indicated they respected Him as a well-educated Rabbi, and it was the Gospel writers who later on twisted these discussions into confrontations with evil intent.
So I stopped reading. Back to my point though; people would love to have those blanks filled in, but in reality it just isn’t going to happen. We are believers in the Bible and we believe that if God had wanted us to know this information He would have included it in the pages of Scripture. He did not, therefore, we do not need it.
On the other hand, the very few mentions of the early years of Jesus of Nazareth that we are given, and one or two prophetic statements that were made in the Old Testament about the coming One, tell us quite a bit about what kind of Man Jesus was and how He was perceived by the people all around Him. That’s what we’ll focus on today, staying with the Bible and ignoring all speculations, especially from unbelievers with their own agenda.
HE WAS LOOKED FOR
First, let’s go back in time prior to the birth of Jesus and see that He was looked for. This is not new information of course, we know that ever since God promised in the Garden of Eden to send a Redeemer to crush the serpent’s head, believers in the one true God have eagerly awaited His coming.
Then the nation of Israel was born when God promised and delivered a son to Abraham, through whom God said all the nations would be blessed, and from Abraham on down through the corridors of time and the generations he fathered, God’s people have known that the Messiah would come from the Jews.