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3.3 Jesus Early Years

It would seem obvious that Jesus spent his boyhood in Nazareth. Unfortunately the Gospels are rather silent on this period of his life. This would explain why some historians say that he went to Britain, India and other countries. According to Matthew the family, after leaving Egypt, went to live in Nazareth, Galilee. The next time Matthew mentions Jesus, he is eighteen years older.

On the other hand Luke mentions two incidents during Jesus boyhood. First of all he confirms that Jesus grew in Nazareth, that he became strong and wise, and that the Grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:39,40). All the male Jews were obliged to spend the Passover in Jerusalem and Jesus went there with his mother and father when he was twelve, since that was the age when a Jewish boy came of age. The Passover, commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, was on the fourteenth day of the sacred month called Nisan. This would be in March or April of our calendar, depending of the date of the full moon required for the feast. The story of the original Passover is well described in the Torah (meaning “Teaching” or “Law”), the five books of Moses called “Pentateuch”. At this occasion Jesus met Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who will play an important part in his life and death. Luke tells us that on the way back to Nazareth Mary and Joseph noticed, after one full day walk, that Jesus was not in the caravan. They had to go back to Jerusalem where they found Jesus sitting in the Temple with the Teachers, listening and asking questions. One of the present was Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man and a member of the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin. He was amused to hear that Jesus wanted to become a rabbi. Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin, was also present. He was a Pharisee, the most important Jewish sect. Both of them were most impressed by Jesus knowledge. Finally His father and mother arrived and Mary reproved him. To this Jesus answered: “Why were you looking for me. Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Jesus went back to home to Nazareth with his parents. But how did it happen that they didn’t miss Jesus for one day? Did they think he was with friends in the caravan? This does not seem a good enough reason as they knew that he was the son of God. More probably they thought that he was in good hands.

The Bible does not tell us the name of Joseph. We only know that he was a descendant from David. Matthew says that his father could be Jacob and Luke calls him Eli or Heli. Mary had a sister and a near relative, Elisabeth, married to the priest Zachariah. They had a son in their old age, Jesus’ cousin, who became John the Baptist. Joseph of Arimathea was also probably a relative of Jesus, as well as Nicodemus, but we have not been told the exact relationship. A legend says that Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus’ uncle. That would mean that he was the brother of Joseph or Mary. It is unlikely that two brothers would be called Joseph so Joseph of Arimathea must be Mary’s brother. We are told that he was a tin merchant. At that time the principal source of this product was England. If this legend is true, then it is quite possible that Jesus went to England with his uncle. This could also explain why Jesus’ parents did not worry not seeing him for one day on their way back from Jerusalem to Nazareth, they probably knew he was with his uncle. (30)