I was watching a documentary about the missing years of Jesus. 12 to 30. For real. That is a long time to go missing. Or not written about. To get 3 intense years in the scriptures, and 18 that are just nowhere to be found. It leaves the mind to wonder… this report was great. It really was. So many great scholars. From universities, mainly protestant and mainline. Weighing in on the topic. One thing that came up was the tight knit communities. How during Jesus time, the town of Nazareth was small town. I am talking real small town. Ya know the small towns that know everything about their neighbors business, along with a few thoughts of their own? Well, think an even tighter community, and even more talking. This is Jewish, family, traditions, close knit, and lots of relationships happening between everyone. They relied on each other. The estimate is Jesus was born into a town of 500. So… we assume, everyone knew their business. Close. Tight.
There is an interesting story there. When Jesus comes back at 30 in his ministry. Everyone knows him. One gospel refers to him as the carpenter. When you grow up knowing him for assumingly 20 or 25 years as that, its hard to see him as anyone else. The Christ? The savior? Gosh, there is an understanding of why it was so hard for them to believe Jesus was the messiah, and the king they were waiting for through the prophets. He was just the guy they used a few years ago to fix their roof. Or add an additional room. This guy, running around town claiming to be the Son of God? It could be hard. Breaking those experiences.
What is unique is the story in the gospel about Jesus coming back to the town after travelling around at 30 with his pose, those disciples. Jesus was getting some attention, and being noticed. Growing in celebrity status from village to village. But what is unique is a text in the scriptures about how they respond to this in his hometown. In their Jewish culture, they were supposed to identify with their father's household. It was their custom. My wife would be considered… Jayne the daughter of Jeff. And I would be the son of David, and so on. The household would bring the association through the man. Well, what the teaching brings out is that Jesus is not identified this way. He is considered "the son of Mary."
There is a bit of an argument of why those words. But one common belief is because the town knew something was up with Jesus. And Joseph. The husband of Mary. And the father of many other children, was not the father of Jesus. We know that the Holy spirit revealed itself, and through an angel to Mary, and to Joseph about the baby, being conceived through the Holy Spirit. But God didn't tell the town. Or anyone else. We just kinda assume people knew this, for what Jesus becomes. But they don't. and they don't even get it years later, when he is walking around town and going into other villages claiming to be the Son of God. In one account in the gospel, it speaks "isn't this the carpenter?" They know him well. But for other reasons. Not his Messiah complex. But his earthly living. He is just a worker. Named for what he did for those missing 18 years.
I have been wondering a lot about how we learn to deeply know the Father in heaven. And one thing that hit me through this is that Jesus at some level, was born under incredible controversy in the town. Imagine the gossip. The women talking, and sharing their tales of what might have happened. Maybe they thought Mary had a rendezvous with another man. Or even, just to have gotten a little close, before their wedding night. Whatever came, you can bet the town carried that gossip better than US Weekly, and the paparazzi. This is small town living. Imagine all the housewives at the time, walking around town sharing the news of how Jesus was born before 9 months of Jacob and Josephs marriage. And all those weird fights and confusion they had about that time. Don't think the town wasn't wondering, and talking behind their back.
Here is the amazing part of the story. And the part we forget. Kinda like as we think back to World War II, we already know the outcome. America invades at Normandy, and it goes well. They move in, and we know we will win. But they didn't at the time. And there were many questions, many fears that the war could be lost. Much was up in the air. But that's hard to understand now, knowing all the facts. But they simply did not have that information. And that really changes everything.
It's the same with Jesus. They had a different perspective at the time. When he is born, and what the time doesn't reveal yet, is that Jesus is the Son of God. We don't really know what that would have really been like. To be born the town controversy. To have all these unknown and mysterious labels surrounding your birth. To be the talk, like a Jerry Spring episode of a paternity battle. Who's son is this? Know one really knows. And I bet, the person who was even a bit confused, and had to live with this was Jesus. Imagine him at 5. 9 years old playing with friends. Fishing down at the Sea of Galilee. He must have heard the news. Some kid just straight up asking… our parents wonder who your father is… We heard it wasn't Joseph. When did the Spirit reveal this to him? When did his mother? Joseph? The scriptures aren't very clear. And I wonder about that. Was that what really made Jesus know the Father. Really seek out, and explore who he was. He was the one man faced with more questions about his family. And who he was. More than any other person. Where did that search take him? That longing to understand… almost like that is what God had him bear. Seek out at the temples, and as he read the Torah, and the Holy Scriptures. It was all there. Who he really was. But it had to be revealed to him, over time. I bet God wanted him feel the weight of it, for so long. God wanted him to seek it, explore, and really deeply long to interact, and know who he really was. Until one day… after all his study, his prayers, and growing in wisdom and stature. He began walking in this. Deeply. Abiding. Resting. And living out this identity as the Son.
He was perfect and sinless. So he was pure at a young age. But he was still a boy. A boy who deeply longed to know his Father. And that came. It probably was a process. Growing into it. And understanding what his role was, as God's son. The sacrifice that he would be called on to make.
It makes more sense when you hear of the story of being near his hometown, when he is teaching the people. His mother Mary, and all his brothers and sisters arrive. The whole town is like… Hey Jesus, your family is here, do you want to go talk to them. Shut this down, to be with them? And Jesus says, who are my brothers and sisters? He is saying, those who know God, who abide and do the will of the Father, those are my family. He had to find that out the hard way. By truly searching that out. He finally understand that those around him, gathered, were his true family.
I love this, because truly, if there was ever a man who felt orphaned, abandoned, or had a father wound… who really needed to know His Father, Jesus went through it. It is everyone's deepest longing. To know their father. To be loved by their father, to be delighted in, and enjoyed. It's the story of the Prodigal Son. We need that so deeply. And of all the people, it was Jesus that had to take that journey.
And although we look at it with passing, as if Jesus knew all along. But I think its why the baptism really was so impactful to Jesus heart. For a man who spent his life as a boy, surrounded in controversy. With confusion, and fear of the town not knowing who this boy was, and whose father and house he was born… "son of Mary." That day when he arose from the river, the words, and the longing of his heart was spoken, not just in a dream to his parents. But out loud, and to all those around who witnessed it. Audibly. And clear. "This is my son, with whom I am well pleased." I can't imagine what those words did to Jesus. His father has spoken. Named him. His own. And his delight in him. The whispers of controversy, were silenced by the voice of the one who finally could reveal to the world, who this fatherless child… really was. His own.
And Jesus didn't just kinda act confused. Or pass it off like did anyone here that? Or brush it aside, because it was too much to take in. He received it. Because after all he had been through, he knew. And yet this was the confirmation he needed, that every man needs to hear. It is true. You are a son. Adopted into the family of God. He lived in that identity. As Gods chosen son. The one true son. And the most beautiful part of the gospel, is that his sacrifice gives us that right. That heir. To be called sons of God.