The Real Jesus
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The Real Jesus

Chapter 3

Jesus' Childhood,

Education and Early Life

   Despite the fact that the Bible gives us only the briefest view through a keyhole, as it were, into the events of Jesus' birth, and gives us only one sentence, that of Luke 2:40, about His boyhood, most theologians tend to portray Jesus in only two major moments of His life; that of His birth, as celebrated by the pagan adaptation of an Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Nordic and Druidic ceremony called "Christmas," or an equally pagan ceremony surrounding His death and Resurrection, which came out of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Rome and Greece, called "Ishtar" anciently, or "Easter" today.
   However, God no doubt knew exactly what He was doing when He preserved only a few brief statements about Jesus' birth, and then spent more than 90 percent of the remainder of biblical texts concerning Christ's message — His life from age 30 onward, His ministry, His miracles, and His death, burial and resurrection!
   So what was Jesus like when He was a small child? Did Mary ever have to spank Jesus? Was He a "normal" child in every way? Was there no necessity to train Him; to teach Him in the simplest ways as every parent should?
   To find out, first let's consider His earthly parents.
   They were, together with Mary's cousin Elizabeth (John the Baptist's mother), Zacharias, and a small minority of others, living a sincerely righteous life within the intent of God's laws. That meant they were physically healthy; following God's revealed laws about foods, exercise, diet, avoidance of the use of harmful substances, like drugs, and of overindulgence, or any excesses. Mary was in perfect health. Remember, too, that the tiny fetus being shaped in her womb was guarded, each moment, not only by God's Holy Spirit, but by unseen angelic beings! Michael and Gabriel were both extremely busy at this time — and you can be sure that God the Father in heaven had commissioned His most powerful obedient spirit beings to keep close guardianship over that precious human life.
   Mary would have had a "normal" pregnancy. There would have been no abuses heaped upon that tiny, growing baby within her by a thoughtless mother who deprived the baby of its needed nourishments. No smoking, no excessive use of stimulants or depressants, no careless accidents which could cause injury, no violent, emotional upsets, or a loud, screaming, unhealthy family environment.
   That she was in excellent health is obvious from the fact that even in an advanced state of pregnancy, she made the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Probably she could have ridden in a cart, or similar conveyance, pulled by donkey or horse, or even have ridden a donkey or a horse itself.
   The presence of God's Spirit, and angels, together with the physical condition of Mary and her absolute obedience to health laws enables you to know that Jesus was a perfectly shaped and formed, healthy baby.
   Now let's consider Jesus Himself. Did Jesus ever cry? Why do babies cry? Too many mothers don't know they sometimes cry because of a need for exercise; sometimes cry almost automatically from various stimuli on some occasions; as well as cry because they are hungry, or tired, or wet and uncomfortable.
   Yes, Jesus cried. If He could weep at Lazarus's tomb because of the obstinate faithlessness of people, He could have cried as a baby because He was in need of a good workout, waving little arms and legs about, and filling His lungs.
   But though He could cry when hungry, wet, or uncomfortable (there is no sin in crying and responding to the natural human emotions of infancy), Jesus was a completely different baby boy.
   Every normal baby reaches that point in his infancy where his cries and wails of outrage take on a new tone of self-pity, anger, resentment or frustration.
   The Bible reveals that the carnal mind (the natural human mind with the spirit in man but without God's Holy Spirit) is enmity against God (Romans 8:7)! Millions do not know why they resent God's law, His way of life, and any directives from God in their private lives! Jeremiah 17:9 reveals that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked and asks "who can know it?"
   As "normal children" we all grew up in our own environments to become gradually acquainted with all the feelings of racism, group instincts, competition, selfishness, pride, self-pity, vanity, and self-consciousness which made up the whole panorama of our earliest years, with all the "normal" frustrations, introversions, embarrassment, dashed hopes, successes, or despair.
   How far back can you remember? Can you remember when you were three or four or five?
   Chances are, you have only the dimmest or vaguest awareness of those early years of your life, but those recollections which do stand out are the ones that had to do with either major triumphs, such as successes in games, in some experience among children your own age or with your parents; or in deep disappointments or frustrations, such as playground altercations, being pushed and shoved by the neighborhood bully, or in having an intense "boy-girl relationship" with a neighborhood child, beginning sex experimentation; or in a host of other experiences which are common to human nature.
   Though it's difficult for you to accept it or believe it, Jesus Christ experienced none of these!
   From His beginning awareness of learning of words, that little baby, in whose little mind was the "Spirit of God without limit" could learn without the normal hostility and antagonism toward authority symbols, such as His parents or others around Him.
   I can imagine how many times Mary must have told Jesus, "You are different, Jesus. You are the Son of God! You were not born in the same way all other little boys and girls are born — but by a divine miracle! You are a little Prince, born to become the King of Israel, and to be the Messiah sent to Israel and to all mankind."
   I cannot imagine a human individual going through the fabulous series of remarkable miracles as did Mary who would not have continually sung that baby to sleep by rocking Him in her arms, constantly thrilled and aware of His divine origins and the great calling which awaited Him.
   I can well imagine she must have made up songs of her own, or even hummed some of the psalms about deliverance; that she would have taught Him continually about every one of the miracles, visions, dreams, miraculous appearances of angels, and the events prior to and surrounding His birth and young babyhood.
   As Jesus grew older, His direct contact with the Father, through the power of God's Holy Spirit, His deepening and growing awareness of the "other dimension" of the always present spirit world (angels were about Him from the time of His conception throughout His life) meant that His learning process was not twisted by feelings that are common to the carnal mind.
   If Mary could describe the reactions of her different children (she had at least seven of them), she would no doubt have testified that Jesus was her "best baby."
   Ever hear of a "child prodigy"? Jesus was a child prodigy — but not in the traditional sense. Jesus was a prodigy, if that is the right word, in wisdom and understanding. He could perceive the profound meaning and implication of God's Holy Scripture; He could answer questions about the Bible that generations of scholars had argued over. He could expound and explain the Bible with far greater perception and power than anyone else had ever done. Jesus knew the Scriptures very well, but He probably didn't have a perfect photographic memory. He had to work to learn the Bible; He had to study hard with great diligence and dedication. But when the time came to preach what He had learned, suddenly Jesus burst forth with startling insight, brilliant analysis and profound impact.
   If He could astound the learned doctors of the law at age 12, He could have already startled His fellow classmates in His classes as well as His mother and father!
   Jesus had God's Holy Spirit "without measure." A converted person today, who has repented, been baptized, and received God's Spirit is still mostly carnal. He is said to have received a little "earnest" or "down payment" of God's Spirit, but, even as Paul told the church members of Corinth, is "yet carnal." The Holy Spirit is there, in the mind, but in a comparatively small amount, and as Paul explained, helps us resist the carnal pulls, but however sometimes loses. (Paul said, "The thing that I hate, I do, and that which I would do, I cannot seem to do.")
   Not so with Christ, even as a tiny child. There was no carnal reaction. There was the temptation to react carnally, in exact measure to the level of understanding of His mind, depending on the age. But there was the help of the limitless power of God's Spirit, plus the protection of angels to help Him overcome such temptations.
   Did Jesus suffer any of the "childhood diseases"? Unthinkable! Not only is there not the faintest whisper of evidence to indicate Jesus was ever "sick" a single day of His life, but there is every evidence to the contrary! In following the divinely revealed laws of God basic to good, physical health, Jesus' bodily resistance to any disease was especially high. There are laws involving human diet revealed in the Bible which have to do with the physical health and well-being of us humans which can only be known through revelation, and could perhaps never be known through the modern biochemical analyses of chemistry and nutrition. Consequently, Jesus' parents would have seen to it that He received the very finest diet available according to their means!
   This meant that Jesus was eating whole grain foods, drinking raw milk from domestic cattle and goats (anyone can tell you that goat's milk, so long as the creature is fed a reasonably good diet, is much richer than cow's milk), and was eating lamb, mutton, beef, fish, fowl, and the common diet of a basically agrarian society where food was never "processed" in the sense that we know it today, where it was seasonal, natural, and healthful. Further, He had the protection of God's Holy Spirit throughout His life, and though there is no mention of it, if Jesus had ever ingested spoiled food, tainted meat, or anything of any nature that could have brought about physical debility or sickness, there is no doubt whatever that a divine miracle was instantly imposed, and that Christ was protected from any ill effects. (Jesus later predicted that His own disciples, in the conduct of their work in fulfilling the great commission He gave them, would not be affected by poisonous things, whether they picked them up accidentally as in the case of the Apostle Paul, who was bitten on the hand by a poisonous serpent while preparing a fire on an island, or whether they happened to ingest tainted, poisonous drink or other things dangerous to health!)
   From His earliest babyhood, then, Jesus followed the laws of physical health. He ate right foods, got plenty of the right kind of strenuous exercise, a good full night's sleep every single night, and "grew and waxed strong" as a result!
   What kind of games did He play? Did Jesus ever indulge in loud noises and fits of screaming, or throw tantrums as a tiny child? Was He ever given to outbursts of anger?
   His play periods were different from those of most normal children of today, in that there were never any games of pretense, of sham, which required lying, "pretending" to be someone He was not, "hero worship" in the form of the "cops and robbers," "cowboys and Indians," played by so many millions of children today! (Or "Romans and Jews" or "Maccabees and Romans" back then.)
   There were no feelings of self-importance, because there was no vanity!
   If you took away vanity and a desire for attention, all the frustrations which bring about the psychoses, neuroses, mental handicaps and debilities which shape most of the rest of us, you would see a different picture indeed!
   Whether it was a simple game of marbles or the other games Jesus might have played, you would never have seen a temper tantrum, a sudden burst of crying and fleeing home, the loud insistence at being number one, the playground altercations, the taunts at other children to make them feel inferior over a handicap, or any of what we call "normal behavior" in most children!
   What kind of games did Jesus play? In the first place, perhaps the word "play" could never properly be applied to activities which occupied Jesus' time between His lessons, studies, learning Joseph's trade, and the other essentials of life such as eating, sleeping and working. If there was any "play," it was no doubt the kind of play that was totally constructive!
   This means that Jesus, in applying the laws of God perfectly in His life and mind, would never have attempted to take advantage of someone else's weakness! If there were any games He played, they could not have been games constructed around petty vanities of human ego which make it all essential for the individual to win, no matter by what means! Jesus might have played "games" of the kind which could stimulate thought, help develop a vocabulary, develop physical skills, or perhaps even have contests to see who could finish some constructive project more quickly.
   Jesus would have learned self-discipline and the development of physical skills by leaping, climbing, racing, swimming, possibly playing team games (such as our softball, basketball, soccer, water polo, etc.), which were inventions of the time. But as a boy He would never have gone beyond mere contests of physical strength which would not inflict either pain or injury on the other person.
   Jesus most surely would have participated in all those rough-and-ready boyhood sporting endeavors which would build strong young bodies and give healthy outlet to youthful energies, but without the feelings of selfish competition.
   That meant Jesus would surely have been involved in foot races, in tests of strength in regard to lifting, pulling, tugging, and other physical contests, including wrestling.
   Wrestling has been a popular sport for millennia. It puts full focus on the character of the wrestlers as well as on their natural strength and technique. Wrestling, as a sport, without desire to injure or hurt the opponent, builds strength, develops perseverance, generates mental as well as physical endurance and instills personal confidence. We can be quite positive that Jesus wrestled as a boy. How? He had previously shown His interest! We can prove that Jesus, in His preexistent state, had wrestled with Jacob. This remarkable account in Genesis 32:24-30 shows how God developed the character of Jacob by wrestling with him for many hours.
   There is no reason to assume the Bible requires that Jesus never once suffered minor nicks, cuts, bruises or abrasions. The Bible does explicitly point out that God had intended only that not one bone of His body should ever be broken, but there was no such restriction placed on the possibility of cuts or abrasions.
   It would be doubtful, however, because of Jesus' careful attention to God's laws and also common sense about safety on the job and principles of fairness in all sports, that Jesus ever suffered any affliction or injury beyond a very minor nick to a knee or a finger.
   Even in these cases, He could quickly look up to God His Father in heaven and ask that God heal the wound, and God could have answered instantly.
   With His "other-dimensional consciousness" of God's Holy Spirit, Jesus totally rejected the group instincts. He never allowed Himself to become a member of a "gang." As a boy, He never limited His association to a certain clique — a select few who could find camaraderie in performing acts of vandalism, playing practical jokes on the elderly, beating up a member of a rival gang, stealing a farmer's crop, telling giggly tales of sex exploitation, or engaging in wild escapades during some political or religious holiday, as do children of our time.
   Jesus knew that God was no respecter of persons, and followed that principle perfectly.
   He thoroughly knew the proverb that said, "Don't let thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long" (Prov. 23:17). And, therefore, the excited tales of other neighborhood boys who would laugh privately about illegal or shameful exploits would not have been attractive to Him.
   But Jesus did live through all of those 30 years prior to the beginning of His ministry. No doubt every single day and every single week of those years were jam-packed with living life in the most zestful, enthusiastic, and purposeful manner that has ever been known.
   As the years went by, and Jesus' perceptions grew of exactly what He was to do, who He was and what His calling was, what lay ahead of Him only a few years hence, and the deadly seriousness of the great task before Him, there is no doubt He studied, thought, prayed, pondered and struggled with various thought processes in a way none of us can understand!
   Concerning the matter of Jesus' education, this no doubt consisted of a manifold program, which was superior to the kind of education available to the average youth in our affluent societies of today.
   Though the endless fables, oft repeated, were extant in Jesus' day — including many exploits of the "gods"; common polytheistic theological fantasies told and retold by the Greeks; fabled stories of Nimrod the hunter from Babylon and of the Pharaohs of old from Egypt; and even imaginative additions and trappings to the biblical accounts of Moses and the burning bush, the Noachian deluge, Samson and his strength, David and Goliath, and Saul and the witch of Endor — Jesus never believed them, and never wasted His time on them; nor did He grow up believing in fairies or childhood fairy tales. His education was in the home, in His father's trade and business, and was the most valuable kind available!
   No other teaching methods can surpass private tutelage.
   Families such as Joseph's would have been sufficiently prosperous to have hired a highly skilled private tutor, or even several, whose occupations consisted of teaching in homes in the region.
   Remember, Jesus grew up in an area which was a virtual crossroads for trade and commerce, and where the worlds of Europe and Asia met. The area was at least bilingual, and many people grew up learning to speak three languages. There is every evidence Jesus spoke Greek as well as fluent Aramaic, and the Bible also indicates He spoke Hebrew.
   How did He learn these languages? The community was mainly bilingual, and parents spoke two languages or more in their own homes. There were no doubt skilled linguists who came into Jesus' home and taught Him languages on a regular basis.
   In addition to languages, the growing young boy would have been taught music, history, geography, the science of the time, and would have been especially learning the skills required in His father's building profession, which included physics, engineering, mathematics, trigonometry, and the many other disciplines required in the construction of either larger commercial buildings or private homes.
   These skills would have included a sense of proportion, symmetry, beauty, harmonies of color, and adaptation to scale. Anyone who was so versatile so as to be involved not only in a choice of location, site preparation and the heavier process of laying of foundations and supporting structures, but even in the finishing of the interior, including the delicate mosaics and decorative features of such a home, would be considered far more flexible than are most people in similar trades today!
   It is obvious Jesus would have known about art, literature, music, stoneworking and building skills, and history. Especially He knew about the Holy Scriptures from start to finish!
   But this knowledge was not automatically inserted into His mind through divine fiat, but gradually accumulated as He developed and grew.
   The Bible plainly says, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:8-9). Learning is a process. So is perfection. Living perfectly for one day does not mean that an individual is "perfect," for there is much to learn on the next day. Perfection is not only a process of the guarding of perfect character and morality, but also a process of acquisition of additional knowledge and experience, which together can provide even greater understanding and wisdom.
   Because Jesus "experienced" human life in this flesh, He is able to turn to God the Father as an experienced counselor and adviser and explain on some occasions when a human's failings have been particularly obnoxious and say to His Father, "Father, I understand — please forgive that person!"
   God's Word says Jesus learned "by the things which He suffered," meaning that many object lessons were learned throughout His young and developing years through that continual awareness, however painful and disillusioning it may have been, of the hypocrisies, the hates and jealousies, vanity, carnality and ego which could afflict members even of His own family and close friends.
   Though the Bible calls Him a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," this cannot possibly preclude the fact that Jesus was a completely well-rounded personality who could lay His head back and roar with laughter over something particularly funny; nor did it preclude Jesus indulging in singing lilting songs on occasion; it is likely that He was acquainted not only with the religious songs of that time, but also knew of the folk music of several cultures. Could the very personality of the God Family who invented within us human beings that " universal language" of a deep appreciation for, and a desire to participate in, music have not enjoyed singing? The only insight that you can gain into Jesus' musical knowledge was the fact of His deep desire to sing "one more song" with His disciples following the "Lord's supper" on that final Passover.)
   Joseph, while not well-to-do, would have comfortably and adequately provided for his family. That included the ability to pay for special Levitical teachers whose sole responsibilities were either in the priestly or educational line, to come into his home as private tutors on any number of days each week and to teach Jesus special skills in musical instruments, and in the musical literature of the day.
   Thus it was that Jesus grew up not only being at least trilingual within the family, but also studying languages through those specially skilled in such, and learning at the feet of brilliant teachers who no doubt very quickly responded to the incredible aptitudes and insatiable thirst for knowledge the young lad possessed.
   Did Jesus know the principles of nuclear fission? Was His mind so brilliant in that first century that He knew all there was to know about today's computers, satellites, business machines, jet aircraft, missiles, and all assorted space-age technology?
   Of course not! Although through His awareness of material substances and the physical forces working upon them, Jesus' grasp of the basic underpinnings of historical and dynamic geology, paleontology, zoology, biology, history, and other related subjects, would have been far superior to those of His time, His growing awareness of His own origins and recollections of the fact that "before Abraham was, I am" would have given him a brilliant and incisive perception of geology and the actual formation and substance of the earth far beyond the most skillful of teachers of His time. But it was not necessary for Jesus' mind to acquire knowledge far beyond that which was not commonly available to the most learned and best-educated person.
   Jesus was not a "space-age" person in a first-century environment; but He most assuredly was a visitor from outer space, and had knowledge surpassing those of His first-century environment by a great measure!
   Here was a young lad who, from the time He was six or seven, was cheerfully going about His daily household chores, looking over His father's shoulder as He watched him work and listening wonderingly as He learned of all of the detailed things he was doing, going happily to His studies to learn to sing, perhaps to play on an instrument or two, to study the languages of His time, and to learn so many interesting and absorbing subjects that His mind was constantly busy. He had no time for the wasteful activities of most youth.
   As soon as He was physically able, I am sure Joseph allowed Jesus tasks which would have developed His young body to make it "strong" as Luke reports. He could have been carrying stones, boards and lumber, mortar or plaster, and running errands, fetching tools, climbing up and down ladders, pushing, pulling, lifting, moving, sliding, and continually exercising until, at the end of a long day, He was ready for a good solid meal prepared by a wonderful cook and housekeeper, and to be tucked into bed following a session of prayer with the family, and no doubt some pretty serious private prayer of His own!
   Luke shows how Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. "And when he was twelve years old, they went up after the custom of the feast... " (Luke 2:42). As a boy of 12, He was very wise, and very well educated.
   It is no accident that the Bible singles out Jesus' twelfth year as an important milestone in his life. Without my becoming overly laborious on the matter, suffice it to say that man is not the inventor of numbers, God is. The Bible is very clear on the fact that certain numbers bear certain significance. The number 12 represents "organized beginnings," or a perfect governmental number.
   Further, 12 was the age when, according to Jewish custom, a young boy was expected to pass into the adult community. He began to assume more of the responsibilities of a young man of the household and the family's trade, and was looked upon as having crossed an important threshold at age 12.
   Notice the account of Jesus' "debut" in the public eye from the time of His private boyhood until the time when He was about 12 1/2 at the Passover in Jerusalem! "And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast; and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not; but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day's journey; and they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance: and when they found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for him" (Luke 2:42-45).
   That statement tells you a great deal about the family structure. First of all, the very fact that Jesus' parents did not realize that Jesus had remained behind in Jerusalem for a full day indicates that Jesus was very mature for His age, well accustomed to handling responsibilities by Himself, and had the total confidence of His parents. Furthermore, by this time the other boys or perhaps both of the girls had been born. Twelve long years had gone by, and Jesus' brothers and sisters were no doubt along on this journey. Though Jesus was the only one, as the eldest, who had now (some six months earlier) grown into his more adult responsibilities, his other brothers, James, Joses, Simon and Jude, and either one or two girls or even more were probably along. That's why the Bible talks about "the company, and how they sought for him among their kinsfolk" and acquaintances.
   Joseph and Mary probably searched through parts of the city where they fully expected to discover Jesus, probably among some of Joseph's associates and fellow tradesmen, suppliers or business acquaintances.
   So it was with a great degree of surprise that they finally found him in the temple.
   "And all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they [Joseph and Mary and His family] saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said unto him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.' And he said to them, 'How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house [temple courts]?' And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them" (Luke 2:47-50, RSV).
   Now that's interesting. Jesus' parents did not understand the meaning of what Jesus had done or said. This demonstrates that heretofore Jesus was not a totally out-of-the-ordinary child. He did not constantly tell everyone "who He was," not even His parents. Though they surely remembered the unusual nature of His birth, the passage of time and the normal ebb and flow of the mundane events of daily life dulled Joseph and Mary's realization of what Jesus was going to do. Jesus did not flaunt this preexistent life or the mission of this physical life, even as this realization must have come fully into His consciousness. No doubt by the time of this incident at age 12, Jesus knew who He was and what He had to do. Nonetheless, He maintained His "normal" life as a fine, bright, obedient, young Jewish boy growing up under His parents' care.
   Jesus was a Jew.
   As such, He knew a great deal of persecution throughout His life — for it wasn't easy growing up in an area of mixed races in His own homeland, including the dark and swarthy Canaanites, Syrophoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and various other races from the East, as well as a chance encounter with an Egyptian now and then.
   The "Decapolis" or those ten towns of the plateau the other side of the Sea of Galilee — which spread from the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee considerably southward along both banks of the Jordan River and thence eastward for quite a number of miles into what is modern-day Jordan — were largely inhabited by Gentiles. The land of Galilee, Samaria, Judea and Idumea were made up of various races or mixtures of races.
   Jesus grew up in a multiracial, multilingual society, where a young Jewish lad, especially one in "business," would have encountered all the assorted forms of racism, prejudice, curses and epithets common even unto this day.
   How did Jesus manage to stay totally free from racial bias?
   The answer is that He had God's Holy Spirit without measure, and that the Spirit of God cannot tolerate the slightest inkling of racial prejudice or bias. (It is strongly implied that one of Jesus' own disciples was black — Simon the Canaanite — and thus even the underpinnings of the New Testament Church of God could have been multiracial.)
   The very personage who became Jesus Christ of Nazareth had earlier created all the races of man!
   I can well imagine that when the conversation turned to race, Jesus as a boy would never have taken great issue with someone who called Him "a dirty Jew."
   Never could Jesus have laughed at ethnic tales which tended to belittle or ridicule the members of another race merely because of their color of skin, stature, language, general physical or cultural characteristics. He knew that He was come unto the world, as well as unto His own people, and that He would be the "light of all men" and finally "draw all men unto myself."
   No doubt, through Jesus' young life, there were any number of smirking little ruffians who knew how different He was, and continually tried to trip Him up in His lifestyle and His ways. Also there were no doubt other groups who attempted to entice Him to join with them in plotting some thuggery or other.
   But Jesus had been learning the deep wisdom of the Proverbs, and would have recalled what some of them had said, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, 'Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us wantonly ambush the innocent;... we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with spoil; throw in your lot among us, we will all have one purse.' " — Jesus would have remembered that Solomon said, "My son, do not walk in the way with them, hold back your foot from their paths; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood" (Prov. 1:10-16, RSV).
   "Chicken!" would not have dislodged Jesus from his stolid refusal to engage in the vicious antics of youthful gangs, since He knew they were all a group of filthy, sniffing little cowards and very likely told them so.
   Also, Jesus was not ashamed of His father or His mother, of their business, their home, their background, or their example. (Not that they were perfect, in the sense that there was never a cross word, or that they lived an absolutely flawless life.)
   Jesus could grow up as a young boy remembering that He was the one who had inspired Solomon to write, "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. Let your heart cheer you all the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your own heart, and in your own sight: but you had better understand, that for every one of these things, even during your youthful days, God will bring you into judgment.
   "Therefore, don't be sorrowful about it, but put away evil from your day-to-day physical life, because a great deal of childhood and youth is an empty pursuit for useless goals" (Eccl. 11:9-10, paraphrased).

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Publication Date: 1977