Sometimes we may ask ourselves how we can feel close or even identify with Jesus. After all, the Bible tells us that Jesus was the Son of God who possessed abilities and powers that we do not. He offered himself as a sacrifice to provide salvation for us sinners. How can we possible identify with such an amazing person?
Sharing similar experiences is one way to develop a closer relationship. The Gospel of Luke is very helpful in this manner because he describes the very early years of Jesus. Jesus had to learn, develop, experience life and make decisions, just like you and me.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in accordance with the Old Testament prophecy (Micah 5:2). His parents were from the town of Nazareth in the region of Galilee. Because of the decree of Caesar Augustus, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem in order to be registered. This was because Joseph was of the lineage of David (Luke 2:1-5).
Mary and Joseph were obedient Jews, following the Law of Moses, as was evident at his circumcision (Luke 2:39) and attending the feast of Passover on an annual basis (Luke 2:41).Being raised in a Godly environment was essential for Jesus’ proper growth and development as the “son of God”.
“And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”
Luke 2:40 ESV
Jesus would have studied the Old Testament scriptures to better understand the purpose His Father had with him. Consider a proverb of King Solomon, as instruction for Jesus:
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”
Proverbs 1:8-10, ESV
As Jesus grew, he would have learned the trade of his stepfather, Joseph, who was a Carpenter (Mark 6:3). Like Moses and David, who learned to lead God’s people by being shepherds, Jesus would learn how to fulfill the purpose of his Heavenly Father through his occupation. As a Carpenter, he would become skilled in working with wood, stone and metal. Jesus would learn:
to build houses, so that he could build the house of God made up of believers (Hebrews 3:1-6), called the holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:20-22)
how to make a building square and level, so he could be the cornerstone in God’s house (1 Peter 2:1-8)
how to shape stones to fit together perfectly, so he could shape the believers, as precious stones to make up God’s house (Malachi 3:16-18)
how he would be that stone, cut without human hands that would remove the kingdoms and governments of the world and replace them with the Kingdom of God on Earth at his return (Daniel 2:44-45).
At the age of 12, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover festival (Luke 2:41-52).When the festival ended, Jesus remained behind in the Temple listening to the teachers of the Law and asking them questions. This is a demonstration of Jesus’ growing love for His Father’s word. In fact, Jesus impressed the learned teachers with his knowledge and understanding (Luke 2:43-47). Jesus was increasing in the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the Scriptures through such dedication, even at the age of twelve. The results were evident, just as King Solomon had written centuries earlier in the Proverbs. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, they were upset with him. Jesus’ reply is astonishing and yet shows his dedication to his Heavenly Father’s purpose for him:
“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?’”
Luke 2:48-49 ESV
Jesus did not show himself to be arrogant or disobedient to his parents, even though his understanding was surpassing their knowledge. He obeyed them and was submissive to them. Jesus continued to grow, increase in knowledge and wisdom and mature in preparation for his sacrifice for the sins of the world.
“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. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
Luke 2:50-52 ESV
We can relate to Jesus was we all must learn, develop and mature. Luke tells us that Jesus was not born knowing His Father’s word, but that he had to learn and apply it as he matured. We can relate to our Saviour because God’s Word tells us that we share similar experiences to him as we develop if we apply ourselves to God’s Word, just as Jesus did.