Who was this man, Jesus of Nazareth? From historical secular documents and Scripture, we know details of his birth which we now celebrate as Christmas. We know of his being presented at the Temple to obey the Jewish custom of dedicating to God the first born son. After that we know nothing about his life until, at the age of 12, he is found talking with the priests at the Temple. He returns with his family to Nazareth and is obedient
. There is no further mention of Joseph; the circumstances of his departure from earthly life or what happened to his earthly body. The record takes up again when Jesus is approaching 30 years of age as he performs his first public miracle at the request of his Mother Mary during the marriage feast in Cana. Why did his story exclude those "lost years" of his life?
Remember that the Divine Spirit chose to enter as a human beginning in the womb of a woman. That woman was especially chosen because of her own purity and as a flower that descended from the seed of King David. She was selected by God from the beginning but the consent of her own free human will was needed to complete her worthiness. This occurred when she responded to the Angel Gabriel by saying: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." [Luke 1:38]
Jesus was born a helpless infant that needed physical maturity to accomplish his assigned task of salvation. Today we know that the human brain, our computer, is very limited at birth and develops over time. By the approximate age of two years, the infant is becoming involved to some degree with the world. [Personally, I have vivid memories back to the age of three but none before that.]
There has been much speculation concerning the younger years of Jesus --- studies at the pyramids in Egypt, studies with the Essenes near the Jordan River, studies in India, etc. Personally, I prefer to believe he led a more typical life of a human child, though imbued with the Holy Spirit, who lived with his earthly parents doing earthly chores and having earthly experiences as he studied and worshipped in the synagogue just like other young boys of his day. He was human in every way but his mission was Most Divine. That was the meaning of the scripture quotation at the beginning of this article; that is, the human nature of Jesus lived in a human body during his sojourn on earth just as with all humans. But Jesus also had a divine nature [somewhat akin to our own created Being made in the image of God.]
The divine nature of Jesus was and is the Divine Word mentioned by the Apostle John at the beginning of his gospel --- the Word invoked by God that formed the physical world. The Word was with God and was God without beginning or end. That divine nature consented to enter into materiality to blend with human nature and its gift of free will. In other words, the manner of the delivery and success of the salvation message was not a simple matter of walking down a fully prepared road.
First, as mentioned earlier, it required the full consent of the immaculate virgin Mary, the daughter of Anna and Joachim, to serve as the vessel for the coming of God in human form. Of course, Jesus could have materialized as an adult at a point in time but that would not have fulfilled the vast prophesies of the coming of the Messiah and he would not have been truly human. It is apparent to me that Mary had to have some gifted insight of what lay ahead, which is reflected in her beautiful "Magnificat" [Canticle of Mary] on her visit with Elizabeth who was awaiting the birth of John the Baptist. She needed to be aware of these things in order to give her own free will directly to God. [see Luke 1:46-55]
Second, we must remember that Jesus had a human free will of his own. That was a part of the human experience. As all of us have found, it takes time for the human will to become in tune with the will of God and it is a lifelong journey to make the human will completely in accord with the will of God. Jesus knew who he was and he knew why he had to enter into materiality but his human will had to be overcome. His knowledge of his mission was obvious when, at the age of 12, he lingered at the temple "sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" [Luke 2:46]. When his family found him three days later, his only response was: "Did you not know that I had to be in my Father's house?" He then returned with them to Nazareth "and was obedient to them [Mary and Joseph]." We then enter the "lost years" with the simple statement: "And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man." [Luke 2:52]
It is only reasonable to assume that Jesus lived a typical Jewish life. He worshipped God, observed the Laws, studied with the rabbis, had his bar mitzvah at the age of 13 and danced the hora. He also did his home chores and worked in carpentry with Joseph -- perhaps even experiencing a knife cut and a few splinters in his fingers. No doubt, he objected to some of these activities but he submitted and grew. It is likely that he played games of the time with others and maybe even became upset if he didn't win. At the end of his teen years it is also possible that he spent some time with the Essenes since they were a Jewish sect nearby from whence come the "Dead Sea Scrolls."
In order to take on the sins of all humankind, it was NOT necessary for Jesus to sin himself. Quite the contrary. He had to overcome temptation and sin so that he could take it unto himself. But he did have to know sin and the effect of sin on the human soul. After his baptism by John, Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days. [Matthew 4:1-11] He also KNEW what was a sin, what was no longer a sin because of his establishing the New Covenant, and biased human decrees that were not a sin in the first place. Even now, God's Truth is not fully known or understood but it is continuing to be revealed through his apostolic church. There are yet to come earth shaking revelations that will surprise or even startle many. We must remember to stand firm in our faith in the unfolding Eternal Truth and always remain open to God's will and continuing revelation.
In becoming human to complete his mission of salvation, Jesus taught and demonstrated that spirit prevails but materiality is exceedingly temporary. In spirit, there is neither male nor female but Jesus chose to enter as human male, especially due to the social conditions at the time of his coming. The heavenly Being is neither held as a slave nor free to own another but Jesus chose to come as a slave to atone for the sins of all humanity. He rejected the ploy of Satan to place the entire world at his feet; after all, everything that was, is or will be is already his. Through him it is also an inheritance for all of humanity.
By the time the ministry of Jesus was drawing to a close, just before the crucifixion, he proclaimed the New Covenant and the New Law ---  Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself. "The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." [Matthew 22:40] At the Last Supper he gave us his body to eat and his blood to drink, as he promised. [Matthew 26:26-28] He suffered agony in the garden as he plead: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will [his human will], but as you will." [Matthew 26:39-44] His human will was now one with the will of Divinity. As he hung on the cross he gave humanity his own mother: "Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." [John 19:26-27]
His human mission was now completed but there was still things that required his earthly attention. Three days after his death, as foretold by the prophets and himself, he arose in heavenly glory. Did he really? Indeed he did because he was seen by many, he entered a room with locked doors, he ate food with his Apostles, and he even reassured the doubting Apostle Thomas by letting him place his finger into the holes in his hands and in his side. He exhorted the Apostles again to carry on the work and commissioned them for the task, appointing Simon Peter as the first leader of the Mystical Body of Christ, the church, the people of faith.
We are still called to follow. We are still urged to grow in spirit and truth. We are still commanded to love ALL others; even those who hate us. Each of us have a cross that is heavy but its burden is light. Amen.