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Luke 2:41-47 ESV

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

This is the last mention of Jesus until He started His ministry. From ages 12 to 30 nothing is explicitly said about what He was doing.

Did He travel to India to study Buddhism?

Did He travel to Britannia (England) with Joseph of Arimathea?

Come on people! Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Of course He didn’t do either of those things. The primary source documents about His life–the New Testament, especially the four Gospels–do not even remotely suggest He went to India or England. If we are to infer anything about what He did for those 18 years, we must base it in what the New Testament says.

The question is, does the Bible give us any clues about what He was doing during those “silent years”?

While the Gospels do not explicitly state what He was doing between ages 12 and 30, we can very safely infer that He was studying to become a rabbi. Not only did He study to become a rabbi, He became 1st century rabbinic equivalent of a PhD.

We know this because of the way nearly everyone, from His closest followers to His bitterest enemies addressed Him: by the title Didaskalos.

Depending on the translation, Didaskalos can be translated “Master” “Teacher” or “Doctor”. Didaskolos was used to address Jesus by His disciples (Mark 4:38; Mark 9:38, 10:35, 13:1; Luke 7:40, 21:7; John 1:38, 11:28), the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17, 10:20; Luke 18:18), the scribes (Matthew 8:19; Mark 12:32; Luke 20:39; John 8:4), lawyers (Luke 10:25, 11:45), the Pharisees (Matthew 9:11, 12:38, 22:16, 22:36; Mark 12:14; Luke 19:39, 20:21; John 3:2, 8:4), the Sadducees (Matthew 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28), and others (Matthew 17:24; Mark 5:35, 9:17; Luke 9:38, 12:13). The Lord also referred to Himself as Didaskolos (Matthew 10:24-25, 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 6:40; Luke 22:11; John 13:13-14).

It is also used in Luke 2:46, After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers [didaskalos], listening to them and asking them questions. Didaskolos was not merely a title of admiration or respect, but something Jesus earned through years of study. Today, we might call Him “Dr. Jesus” or “Professor Jesus”.

If Jesus ever travelled to India or Brittania, I do not know of any solid evidence to back that contention up. However, as you can see, there is plenty of evidence in the Scriptures to show Jesus spent 18 years studying the Mosaic Law.

Luke 2:48-51 ESV

And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

Jesus was a little different. The Chalcedonian Creed (in accordance with Scripture) says that He was truly God and truly man. When His parents found Him in the temple and asked what He thought He was doing, He responded Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? Even though they were more intimately aquainted with the details of His birth than anyone else, and they knew who He was, they did not understand what He was talking about (at least not at this time). This was the first of many statements Jesus would make that no one seemed to understand. This shows His divine nature: I must be in my Father’s house.

Far from being a snotty rebellious son, he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. Despite her initial maternal reaction, Mary treasured up all these things in her heart. Perhaps Mary herself was Luke’s source about Jesus’s early life?

Luke 2:52 ESV

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man. He had to grow up, and learn just like any other human child. This shows His human nature. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but He did not display the sort of qualities we would expect from God. He made Himself nothing. We know from the Scriptures that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Jesus Christ, functioning in His human nature, was none of these things.

God, by nature, is all-powerful; Jesus grew weary (John 4:6).

God, by nature, is all-knowing; Jesus did not know the day or hour of His Second Coming (Matthew 24:36).

God, by nature, is present everywhere at once; Jesus was confined specifically to 1st century Palestine (Judea, Samaria, Galilee, etc.).

As Philippians tells us …though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV).

He did this to show us the way to live; He was our perfect example. Although He was truly God He acted just as any other man, and in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15b, ESV). He certainly had the ability to perform miracles and teach with authority on His own, but He did no such thing.

Instead, He began His earthly ministry after He received the Holy Spirit, following His water baptism. He did this to show us how His ministry was to continue after His return to the Father: through God’s Spirit within us. Jesus taught and worked miracles through the Spirit within Him. We must receive the Holy Spirit to do Christian ministry (or even be a Christian, for that matter).

In the Magnificat, Mary sang, He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty (Luke 1:52-53, ESV).

Jesus Christ is power to the powerless, and we are all equally powerless to save ourselves. He is wisdom to the fool, and no one can figure out a way to save themselves from the wrath to come. He is righteousness and sanctification to the sinner, and we are all totally depraved. Christ alone is our redemption, because He alone has what we all need: the grace of God.

We are saved by God’s grace. After we receive His grace by faith, He gives us His Holy Spirit. The great Didaskolos, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is our living example of how to walk in the Spirit.