Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 3, 1963
NUMBER 22, PAGE 3,10c-11a

"And The Child Grew...."

Brooks C. Webb

The biography of Jesus of Nazareth does not follow the usual method of writing a biography. This is particularly noted in the fact that so very little is said of the childhood of Jesus. The inspired historians pass over so very much that would be such a great challenge to the modern biographer. Today when one sets out to tell the life story of another, he gives attention to the minute details of his ancestry, his birth and the varied surroundings of his childhood. But strangely enough these things were all passed over with a minimum of notice as though the Holy Spirit were hastening to get into the details of his ministry. And so we have only brief references to his early years, and these given to us as though "precious, fragrant flowers tossed from the garden of his walled in youth."

Though but little is recorded for us of the childhood of Christ, we can glean from the inspired accounts some splendid lessons and recognize a trail blazed for us. Let us look at his.

Place Of Abode

The dwelling place of Jesus was lovely. "Nazareth is situated in lower Galilee five and one half miles west of Mt. Tabor. It lies 1300 feet above the sea. It was a small walled town situated in a beautiful cup-like valley open to the south overlooking the great Esdraelon Valley, the garden of Palestine and the scene of so much of the history of Israel. Travelers tell us that the view from the place where Jesus grew up is one of the most beautiful on the face of the earth. Its white houses, with vines clinging to their walls, are embowered amidst gardens and groves of olive, fig, orange and pomegranate trees." Thus, while Jesus was not born in the mansions of the wealthy, nor was he to live amidst the rich, nevertheless he was surrounded with that which is truly lovely — the mansions of nature provided by the Divine wisdom and power of Jehovah.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that man's life "consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth," nor in the fineness of his dwelling place. In order to really amount to something in the sight of God one need not have the mansion on the hill, nor all the status symbols of the day.

His Domestic Life

Nothing is more important to the development than the proper surroundings and teachings during the formative years of youth. While Joseph and Mary were not people of wealth, they were people of industry, being gainfully employed in carpentry work. While giving attention to the providing for the material welfare of their sons, they did not neglect providing for their spiritual welfare. With unfeigned faith they taught the children the Holy Scriptures as did all faithful Hebrews. It can be rightfully suggested that the boundless energies that characterize all healthy boys were used in that which was profitable and honest. Never was heartbreak brought home to his dear mother by the knock on the door by the Juvenile Officer. It cannot be imagined that Jesus would be found in malicious vandalism, the breaking of windows, the destruction of the property of others, the tearing up of the synagogue schools and theft as we read of in our daily paper of certain youngsters — and too frequently of those who are supposed to be Christians. Neither would one come to the house of Joseph at late evening and find the children there alone while Mary and Joseph were "doing the town." The mother of Jesus never spent a sleepless night, her anxiety growing by the minute, or crying herself to sleep, sobbing, "where is my wandering boy tonight?" Young men, as much as in you lieth, you should follow this example. Not only for your own benefit, but for the sake of that dear mother who loves you so much.

His Associates

Certainly the boy was spared the hustle and bustle of our present day society. But at the same time he would of necessity come into contact with other children, and in a community of much population would be thrown into at least limited association with all sorts of characters. It is noteworthy that he was not isolated, and did not live the life of one in a monastery as a "fugitive from society." With Milton, "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue....that never sallies out and sees her adversaries, but slinks out of the race where the immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat." But even though Jesus would of necessity come into contact with those that feared not Jehovah, he did not seek their constant companionship. Paul gives that instruction which is so evidently true on the very face of it, "evil communications corrupt good manners." (1 Cor. 15:33) Mary was never heard to encourage her sons to "live it up! Remember, you are only young once." Mothers who cannot understand why their children have turned out as they have ought to stop and reconsider the fact that those who "sow their wild oats" reap the devil's harvest.

His Work

We realize that the scriptures do not tell us of the amount of work Jesus did in his boyhood, but it can certainly be inferred that he assisted Joseph, along with his other brothers. It was required of the Hebrews that the children be taught a trade. They were convinced that to fail to teach a boy a trade is to teach him to steal. And this would certainly be a partial remedy today for our increasingly troublesome and costly juvenile delinquency problem. Put those idle boys to work on the multitude of chores around the house, or elsewhere. And while this is being done, they must be made to realize that their work must be performed in a manner that will reflect credit upon themselves and their rearing. We have a friend on the West Coast who is to us a very special example of this. He is an appliance repairman. He can enter one's house, work on their appliances, and after he has completed his job, his work is done in such a manner that he can (and often does) conscientiously invite that person to attend worship with him. Being an honest and faithful worker, people still like to hear him pray after his work is done. Can this be said of you?

His Worship

The one reference to the life of Christ during boyhood is his trip to Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Wise parents do not fall to take their children to worship. It will be noted that Mary and Joseph did not send Jesus to Jerusalem with friends or relatives. They took him there themselves.

This assembly with the other Hebrews provided many blessings, as do the assemblies of saints today. In these assemblies he could obtain new impulses, deeper understanding of the law, and a revival of common interests.

Bible readers are familiar with the incident of the parents returning home without Jesus. When they missed him, they returned to Jerusalem to find him in the temple asking questions. When confronted by his mother with the question, "Why hest thou thus dealt with us?" Jesus uttered the keynote of his life, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (From this point forward he acknowledges no one else as father.) This concern for his Father's work and will never subsided. As we see him at the end of life he prays in the Gethsemane scene, "Not my will, but thine be done."

It must also be noted that Jesus was at home in the assembly. It is pathetic when children who have reached their teens are completely out of place in a religious assembly. Such is a sad commentary on their parents who should hang their heads in shame! Jesus learned early in life complete devotion and dedication to God. He learned the importance of learning and discussing the word of God.

His Development

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man," according to the testimony of the historian. (Luke 2:52) He developed physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. Every parent alive to the needs of his child should be concerned with his total development. Our age is a period in which most parents are aware of the needs of the youngsters in mental and physical development. And certainly mothers are intensely concerned that the children (especially the girls!) increase in favor with men - that is socially. But that spiritual development which is of paramount importance is sadly neglected.

The Result

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him." (Luke 2:40) By studying the life of Christ, parents can become better parents. Children should be taught to study the life of Christ in order that they can imitate him as nearly as possible. Remember always that Jesus passed through the same temptations as boys today, yet without sin. And remember, too, that he did not succumb to the pressures of society, even though "everybody was doing it." We, too, can advance as did Jesus in spite of all tribulations and difficulties before us, and, as did Jesus, have the grace of God upon us.

— 1102 N. Mound, Nacogdoches, Texas