The life of Jesus – before He began His public ministry
Very little is written about Jesus’ growing up. It is summarized in this verse in Luke 2:40, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit.”
He learned obedience
Probably His mother Mary would have told Him who He was, and like all Jewish children, He would have been familiar with what was written in the Holy Scriptures.
As a twelve-year-old He went with His parents to the temple in Jerusalem. When His parents wanted to leave, Jesus was nowhere to be found, but they didn’t worry. They counted on Him being somewhere amongst those whom they were travelling with. But Jesus was still in the temple, so that He could listen to those who taught. He sat “in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46-47.
When His parents finally found Him after three days, Mary said to Him, “Son, why have you done this to us?” Luke 2:48. Until that moment Jesus had not been aware of the anxiety He had caused His parents. He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. That was where He wanted to be. But when He understood that He had caused His parents grief, He immediately gave up His own will. “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.” Luke 2:51.
As a human being, Jesus was not born with a penchant for being unwaveringly obedient. In Hebrews 5:8 it is written about Him that, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Jesus had parents and siblings, and when dealing with them He had to be reminded by the Spirit of God to be willing to serve. In all situations where there was a choice between following the promptings of God or following His own will, He chose to be obedient to God. We can read this in this brief description of him: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52.
A hidden life on the cross
The battle that Jesus fought to be faithful to God’s will was hidden to those He was together with. They just saw Him as an average youth, and later as a grown man. It’s written in a prophecy about Jesus that “He had not form or comeliness.” Isaiah 53:2. Who would believe that this man, who was just one of the crowd, had anything special to give people? Even those He was closest to didn’t understand it. The gospel of Mark tells about the time many people had gathered together around Jesus, because He healed the sick and drove out evil spirits. Jesus didn’t even take the time to eat anything. “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’” Mark 3:21. That was their “judgment;” they were skeptical about what Jesus was doing.
Neither did His disciples know the battle Jesus had stood in before He called them. Internally, in His mind, for His whole life Jesus had a “cross,” which He used when He was tempted to do something that went against God’s will. In His body there was a hidden death “on the cross” to everything that was sin. Jesus later said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24.
Fruit of the life
The fruit of Jesus’ life, as experienced by those closest to Him, is also marked by what James writes in his letter. Many assume that this James was one of Jesus’ brothers. He had seen the result of the impact of the wisdom that Jesus had received from God from close up: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17. After Jesus was baptized by John, a voice was heard from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. So Jesus’ life thus far had given God joy.
Before Jesus began to teach, God first allowed Him to be tempted by the devil. Satan tested Him with his wiles: “You have fasted for so long, surely you are hungry! As the Son of God, couldn’t you easily turn these stones into bread? And you could throw yourself off any height; God would surely catch You in His hands, wouldn’t He? And wouldn’t you – like most people – gladly have some power and riches? You can have that if you worship me!” Satan tempted Him with references to “It is written,” but Jesus answered, “It is also written.” God’s Word was His weapon. Satan got a clear message. “The food that I need,” said Jesus, “are the words that come from the mouth of God. I will not test God’s care for Me. I believe that He always cares for Me! I will not serve you; I will worship the Lord My God, and I will serve Him alone.” Jesus was victorious in the temptations, and the devil left Him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
After that came the time in which Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. Happy is everyone who accepts these words of Jesus into their heart, and who understands to bear fruit! (Matthew 13:23)