They Rocked the Cradle that Rocked the World ~ chap. 10

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10—ARCHELAUS & the BOY

Lost in Wonder

 

  • BC 2
  • Nazareth, Province of Galilee, Palestine

 Joseph has brought the God-Man, the future priest- king to his home town where he will finish growing up. He is four years old.

It is evening. Mary has brought out some mending to do, and settles down on her favorite cushion.

“I am really looking forward to going to the Passover services at the temple this year,” Mary tells Joseph.

Without replying, Joseph picks up the hand saw he has brought into their living quarters to repair.

It is the same living quarters they had when first married. It was cramped then. It is even more cramped now with toddler Jesus. Joseph has been saving up to either expand this or buy the property next door.

“We could take Jesus and see what happens,” Mary continues. “Maybe, after we show the priests the prophecies Jesus has fulfilled so far, they’ll make him a child priest.”

Still no response from Joseph. Deep inside he knows something is bitterly wrong. How can he explain it to Mary who is always so trusting?

“If nothing else, it would be good to expose him to Jerusalem and the palace and the temple where he will reign supreme someday.” She pauses and puts down her mending. “Joseph, we need to decide.”

“Mary, I don’t know what to tell you,” he finally answers, working the saw handle back and forth to figure out where it came loose. “I think we should stay away. I think we shouldn’t even visit there for now. Not this year anyway.”

“But old King Herod has been dead for a year.” Mary holds up her shawl to find the rip she accidentally put in it two days earlier.

“I don’t trust that son of his.” Joseph puts down the saw, picks up Jesus who has been playing at his feet, tickles him under his chin, and looks over at his wife. “God warning me not to resettle in Bethlehem, or anywhere near Jerusalem, was for a reason. I’ve heard stories about that Archelaus. I’ve heard he’s worse than his father.”

  •   Jerusalem, Province of Judea

 King Archelaus Herod is power hungry. Just like his father, King Herod the Great, only worse. Who could be worse? He’s got to establish his territory and his power, right from the beginning.

The common people want justice. They demand justice. Now that the father is dead, they demand young Archelaus punish all those cohorts of his father who had killed their loved ones.

Some set up tents outside the temple complex and go there during the day. They preach appeasement or revolution. Worshipers listen to them, for there has not been a family in all of Palestine that has not been touched by the old Herod’s cruelty.

Samson is tall, head and shoulders taller than most people. He is imposing to see, and takes advantage of people’s inclination to look up to him, both physically and mentally. He has been leading people of various persuasions most of his forty years.

He stands on the base of a pillar along Solomon’s portico. The base takes him three feet above the crowd. He holds on to the pillar with one arm, and raises the other, his hand balled into a fist.

“It is time, my brothers! Young Archelaus still does not know what he is doing.” He waits for his words to sink in. “Now is the time. We must rise up.” His voice booms.

People wander over to hear better what is happening.

“He must imprison the guards who imprisoned our men and women. He must execute those who executed our families.”

The crowd of worshipers grows quickly.

“Bring the officers of the court to us so we can mete out our own justice on them!”

“Kill our killers!”

“Kill our killers!”

“Kill our killers!”

The Sanhedrin does not try to stop him. The Levitical temple guards do not try to control the crowd. The priests are in full agreement. They are in on it.

It does not take long for the teachers of the Law of Moses to emerge and add fuel to the holy fire. Dressed in their grandest, they mingle among the people, urging them to take their stand against those who do not abide by Moses’ laws.

The crowd grows. Fifty. Two hundred. Five hundred.

“Kill our killers!”

“Kill our killers!”

The clamor echoes across the complex and out into the streets nearby.

_____

Archelaus’ Levitical temple guards posted at the gates send a courier to report the melee to their general. The general arranges an immediate audience with the new king.

Archelaus is seated on his throne wearing one of his purple robes. His father’s crown is on a table beside him.

“I cannot do anything until Caesar confirms me as king. They’ll have to wait until I go to Rome,” Archelaus tells the general.

“Yes, sir. But they blocked our way to their leaders.”

“They what? You let them block your way? You never delivered my message to them?”

“They were shouting so loud, no one could hear me,” the general replies.

“I cannot afford a riot my first few months as king.” Archelaus stands and walks to a window. He looks toward the temple. The holy temple. The temple of peace and love.

“I’ll never be confirmed by Caesar so I can wear that crown.” He looks over at the table by his throne.

“Send them my counselors. Send the youngest first, if they don’t listen to him, work your way to the oldest.”

He walks over and picks up his father’s crown.

“And, if these madmen over at the temple refuse to listen to them, send in the army. A thousand of my best men should do it.”

_____

The clamor grows at the temple complex. The crowd of worshipers has now grown to the thousands.

“Kill our killers!”

“Kill our killers!”

“Kill our killers!”

One by one, as Archelaus’ counselors arrive and try to speak to the crowd, they are blocked. Only now, many in the crowd have armed themselves with daggers and it is becoming dangerous. They threaten the king’s representatives who run for their lives out of the temple.

Worship resumes. It is the Passover. God must be honored. Their ancestors remembered. The altar is large enough, it can hold several sacrificial lambs at the same time.

They do not hear the marching of the king’s army. Only when they come forcing their way into the temple complex does the crowd notice. They cannot afford close combat. The soldier swords are longer and more deadly than the few daggers found among the crowd.

The worshipers pick up stones and hurl them at the soldiers. There are too many. The stones fly and hit their mark. Over and over. The soldiers had not drawn their swords. They had thought their very presence would be threat enough to convince the crowd to disburse. They are wrong.

The angry crowd is sure that God is on their side. The angry crowd vents its wrath at the deceased King Herod onto the soldiers. Stones fly, knocking shields out of hands and helmets off heads. Now into legs. Now into chests. Now into heads

There is a death toll. Inside the temple—the place of refuge. This cannot be. Not on holy ground. Not in the Holy Land. All this was supposed to stop. But there they are.

The general escapes and gets word to the palace. Enough is enough. Archelaus sends out the cavalry. They attack the tent city set up outside the temple by the common rebels. Their horses are faster than the fleeing men. The soldiers cut down three thousand of the worshipers.

Three thousand Jews now dead right outside the temple gate.

These are King Archelaus’ personal sacrifices. Human sacrifices to the God he believes he is superior to. Greater than. Elevated above. Satan is proud.

Hundreds more dead right in the temple complex. Personal sacrifices of Jews who believe fire must be fought with fire. Human sacrifices to the God of Peace who they think they are pleasing.

No one wins.

King Archelaus cancels the rest of the Passover celebration and sends all the Jews back home. Jesus, age four, remains safe at home up north.

  • BC 1

 Still, the holy city wrestles. Over Pentecost celebration that summer in Jerusalem, things go from bad to worse. A replay of what happened at Passover in the spring. Only this time ten thousand Jewish patriots are sacrificed to the god of Archelaus’ ego.

There is a new addition to the carpenter’s family. Jesus has a new baby brother. His name is James.

Joseph has saved up enough money, he buys the property next door with enough rooms they can have many children.

  • AD 2

During the following years, Mary and Joseph, being faithful believers in the God of the Jewish scriptures, go to Jerusalem annually to celebrate Passover at the temple.

But they never take Jesus. They never take any of the children. It is too dangerous.

“God told me to keep Jesus away from King Archelaus, and keep him away I shall!” Joseph announces each year.

Indeed, it is like this every year. Mary and Joseph never stay long in Jerusalem. Just long enough to take care of their duties toward God. God is very close to them. They are taking care of his Son.

Late the following year another baby is born into this family, this one a girl—Salome, named after Mary’s sister.

  •  AD 3
  • Nazareth, Province of Galilee

 As Jesus grows, his parents teach him to read out of the scriptures for himself. Jesus is eight years old. But not too young.

Jesus needs to know about himself. His real Father is talking to him there. His real Father has left messages for him in these scriptures.

“Son,” Joseph, his adoptive father explains to him one day out in the shop, “did you know God selected your name? Your name has a special meaning. There were two other famous men in the scriptures with that same name.”

Little Jesus stops to rest his arms a moment. Sanding the doors of great villas for his father is hard work.

“In those old days centuries ago, they would have called you Joshua—just a little different accent. The first Jesus led our wandering ancestors into their promised land. There is a message in there for you, son. Think about it. It tells about the work you will do when you are grown.” Joseph instructs his son.

“But, Father, what is that work? We already live in our promised land.”

“When you are old enough to understand it, you will. I can’t explain it. I’m not sure what it means, myself.”

Jesus looks at the rich man’s door he has been sanding, then up at Joseph for approval.

“That’s fine. Now start on the next door. And let’s talk about yet another other Jesus in the Bible,” Joseph says, resuming his spontaneous lesson. “He was the high priest a long time ago.

“Remember the important men—the magi—who came from another country to honor you as priest king when you were just learning to walk? Well, you probably don’t.”

“Yes, I do, Father. I remember they had fancy clothes and I sat on one of their chests on the floor and it was cold.”

“What a memory you have, Jesus.” He ruffles Jesus’ hair in approval.

“Anyway, a long time ago—long before I was even born— three important men from near that same foreign country brought gifts of silver and gold to Palestine and the high priest Jesus, who they called Joshua. They were used to make a crown for him so he could be both high priest and king.”

“Well, if that Jesus was made high priest,” Jesus says, pausing again. “Are you saying someday I’ll be priest and king?”

Joseph does not answer directly. He seldom does. These questions are too hard for him to answer.

“You have a lot to learn yet. Someday you’ll know more than I do about it—a lot more.” Joseph grins, taking the sander from Jesus’ little hand. “I think it’s time for a break and a snack. How about it?”

  •  AD 4

 The family continues to expand. Little Joseph has just been born. Jesus is getting some experience as a leader, what with a younger sister and two younger brothers now. Everything he experiences will work together to develop him into a strong man.

“Now, children,” his synagogue rabbi continues one morning at school, “we must keep watching for the Messiah, the Deliverer. He will come and save us some day.”

“Save us from what?” Andrew asks.

“That’s easy, stupid,” Aharon answers for the teacher. “From our enemies. Those foreigners who run our government. He’s going to kick them out. Isn’t that right, Rabbi?”

“Yes, Aharon, you are right. Our Messiah will be our priest-king, and his heirs will never stop being our priest king.”

The rabbi scrolls through his scriptures until he comes to the passage. Here it is. “The Lord God himself shall be their king forever…Bethlehem…will be his birthplace. He has always been alive and will rule forever.”

Forever? Forever? The word grabs hold of Jesus’ young mind and hangs on for dear life. Forever? What does that mean, forever? He struggles with it the rest of the class period, on his way back home, and during dinner.

  •  AD 5
  • Everywhere in Palestine

 While this family way up north is growing both in numbers and understanding of the impossible, the anarchy of chaos in Palestine does too. It dominates the rumors daily, and monthly, year after year. Skirmishes and snipping apparently in every city. Everywhere.

And everywhere there are men claiming to be the next king of Palestine. Gang leaders, zealots, shepherds, former prisoners, Herod family look-alikes, all making their speeches and claiming to be the next king.

  •  Nazareth, Province of Galilee

People in turmoil. Caesar jails two thousand rebel leaders around the country, then has them all crucified on the road that leads to Jerusalem.

Terrible times. Dangerous times. Especially for anyone in Jerusalem.

Back home, Jesus has his own enemies.

“Jesus is a bastard,” he hears behind him on the way home from school.

“Yeah, Jesus is going to hell.”

The two bullies pass Jesus, purposely bumping him as they do. Then one drops his clay writing tablet and stoops to pick it up, right in front of Jesus. Jesus trips over him. The other bully pushes him off his friend, helps his friend up, and they swagger off.

Young Jesus takes off running.

“Look at the sissy run!” he hears.

Jesus runs for reinforcements. He arrives home and rushes to his room.

Joseph knows there is something wrong. His instincts are always heightened where it comes to Jesus. He must be protected until he can grow up. He follows him. He has his father’s scripture scroll out. Frantically he scrolls through them.

“It’s in the writings of Isaiah, Son,” Joseph says quietly, pushing the hair out of his eyes. “Here, why don’t you underline it so you can go right to it whenever you need to?” He unscrews the blackening bottle nearby and hands him the pen.

Joseph sits on the side of his young son’s bed as he follows his advice. “Son,” he encourages. “You did nothing wrong. Your mother did nothing wrong. You were conceived miraculously.”

Joseph and Mary feel passion for the boy. He is learning what it is like to suffer for being sinful, though he is not sinful. He is learning to understand the punishment people can mete out in the name of God. He is encountering Satan for himself.

  • AD 6

On the day of Pentecost in mid-summer, another baby comes to their home. This time, it’s a girl. They name her Devorah.

She is a bright spot in the lives of an ordinary family trying to cope in a nation occupied with turmoil, hostility and hatred.

Jesus decides to read through all the scriptures in a year. He thinks he can do it. After all, he’s now eleven years old. He will try to see how many messages God has for him there.

He does not have to wait long. He sees it the very first day. It jumps out at him, grabs hold, and will not let go. “God said, ‘Let us create man to be like us.’”

Was he in on the creation? Somehow in on it? He recalls all the times he stopped the other kids from beating on a dog, or tearing the legs off a grasshopper. His relatives always said he had the gentleness of his mother.

But he’d felt as though it was more than that. He’d always felt like he wasn’t just protecting harmless creatures that would crawl away and disappear from his life. It was more like they belonged to him. He cared for them in the same way he cared for those bowls and bird houses he made in his father’s woodshop. Only a lot more. He’d never told anyone. It sounded stupid. But maybe not so stupid.

  •  Rome, Italy

 Things continue to degenerate. Palestine is in turmoil.

Caesar has been pushed too far. King Archelaus Herod is more barbaric than his father. How can anyone be? His son has found ways.

Caesar has no other choice but to exile King Archelaus. Far away from the Promised Land, from his ellusive power, and from Jesus.

  • AD 7
  • Jerusalem, Province of Judea, Palestine

 Jesus is twelve years old. For the first time, Joseph and Mary bring their entire family with them to celebrate Passover.

As they near Jerusalem, they are awed by the great white temple, and explain to their children that it had been enlarged and magnified by King Herod the Great before they were born. High on Mount Moriah, it can be seen from milles away and any point in the city.

But something mars the spectacle. The new prefect prefect, Coponius, has not only ordered a census for tax purposes, he has made a point to crucify those notorious for stirring up the people against paying Rome their hated taxes.

Joseph and Mary both hide the eyes of their youngest children as they pass the dreaded spectacle of crosses along the road just outside Jerusalem.

Jesus, the oldest, is not protected. He stops and stares and listens to their agony. Some curse the Romans. Some warn the passersby. “Don’t give in to them. Don’t pay their taxes.”

Some cry out, “Kill me, someone just kill me!”

Some no longer speak, for they are dead.

Jesus recalls something in the scriptures he had read just recently. Something about God being pierced at Jerusalem, and mourning for a firstborn son.

“Jesus, come on. They’re just criminals.”

They rent a room at an inn, take in their baggage, and head over to the grand temple. Everyone is excited. Jesus had been until now. He cannot get those crucified wretches out of his head. They haunt him. And those scriptures—they haunt him too. Oh God, he thinks, was that a prediction of me? Please, Father, not that.

At the temple, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the main courtyard. They walk up to the grand staircase leading to the court of the men and the altar of sacrifice on which a priest had made their ritual sacrifice on behalf of baby Jesus, their first born. The three stand at the bottom in silence.

“Jesus, this is where we took you right after you were born,” Joseph explains softly.

The three turn around and survey the huge temple complex larger than the original City of David, with its throngs of people in town for the Passover. It is the same courtyard Mary and Joseph had walked through a dozen years earlier, carrying their newborn Jesus. It had been nearly empty then.

His parents recall to Jesus their encounters with Anna and Simeon, now long dead. Then they leave.

The next morning, the family returns excitedly to the temple. The adults stand around various rabbis discussing scriptures in various corners and on various porticos of the huge temple complex. The young ones attend children’s classes taught either by young rabbis or elderly women.

Jesus decides to attend one of the adult discussions.

“My name is Nicodemus,” announces the middle-aged doctor of religious law sitting on his rabbi’s bench. “We are going to talk about the Ten Commandments and how they apply to our everyday lives. First, can anyone here recite all ten?”

Jesus raises his hand. Excited that the youngest person in the group is volunteering, the rabbi calls on him to recite them.

“Very good. Now, we are going to discuss each one starting at the beginning…”

“Sir,” Jesus is raising his hand. “I was wondering if you think God had in mind to…”

“That’s a very good question, young man. Let’s talk about that.”

“Now, does anyone have any idea how the fourth commandment…”

Jesus raises his hand again. “That commandment goes much deeper than it seems, because…”

The adults look around at the twelve-year-old who is half way teaching the class from the back of the crowd. To everyone’s delight. Even the teacher’s.

“Young man, what is your name?”

“My name is Jesus.” Jesus stands to answer the priest.

“Well, that should explain everything! You must be named after our High Priest Jesus,” he jests.

“Not exactly. But I’d like to meet him.”

The class is over. Someday Nicodemus will meet Jesus again. When Jesus is grown. Jesus will change his life. For one day Nicodemus will be part of the holy Sanhedrin, the official council of seventy, and he will defend Jesus’ life to them. Later Nicodemus will help bury him. Then he’ll worship him. But that is eighteen years away.

Yes, this is just the first time Jesus will meet Nicodemus. It will not be his last.

“Hi”

There has been another boy in the group who has remained silent. He comes up to Jesus excitedly. He is slightly taller.

“I guess we’re cousins.”

“John? Is that you?” Jesus asks.

The two boys stare at each other with awesome respect, then walk aimlessly around the temple complex.

“I’ve been wanting to meet you ever since I can remember,” John explains.

“Yeah. We kids couldn’t come down here when things were so dangerous. They’re better now.”

The two boys grow quiet a moment, wanting to skip the small talk so they can talk about what is really nagging at them.

“You really understand a lot of things.” John looks at Jesus intently.

They talk, compare and discuss the coming of the Messiah, the Deliverer. There is much they do not yet understand. They are still young. It will come.

“Hurry up, Jesus,” Salome says, tugging at her oldest brother’s sleeve impatiently. “Father and Mother said it’s time to go.”

“In a couple moments. I’ll be right there. Hey, meet your cousin, John.”

“Jesus, come on. Everyone’s hungry. Come on.” Salome urges him.

That night Zechariah, Elizabeth and their son John meet with Joseph, Mary and their children for dinner. Jesus and John put their heads together before and after the meal. The families laugh about teenagers and their long conversations.

Joseph and Mary know it isn’t just that. Zechariah and Elizabeth do too. They know these two boys, these two miracle babies, need to know each other a lot better. But they do not tell the other children. They just make sure everyone leaves them alone to talk as long as they want.

The following day everyone is back at the temple complex. Jesus finds a discussion group that has not yet begun, but which he has heard will be top notch. He locates a standing spot two-thirds of the way back through the crowd. He does not want to be too conspicuous. After all, he’ll probably be the only child in the group.

Someone slips in and stands next to him. He is younger. Very unusual. He must be a very bright young man.

He introduces himself. “Hi, my name is Saul, from up in Tarsus, where all the Gentiles are. Everyone calls me Paul up there. So what’s your name?”

“Uh, Jesus.”

“You’re going to like this rabbi. He’s my regular teacher here.”

“You’re getting your education right here in Jerusalem?”

“Yeah. I guess they think I’m kind of bright. Gifted they call it. You gifted?”

Before Jesus gets to answer, the rabbi walks up.

“Good morning, friends. I’d like to introduce myself. I am Doctor Gamaliel.”

This is the first time Jesus meets Gamaliel. Their paths will cross again when Jesus goes to trial. He won’t be able to save him. But later he will save others’ lives— Jesus’ closest friends, his twelve apostles.

“When the Messiah comes,” Gamaliel begins, “he will establish the eternal Kingdom of God. What do you think that means?”

Saul announces, “It means wallop those Romans, kick them out of the country, and be the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

Jesus makes a quick reply. “I don’t think so.”

The discussion continues. They deliberate prophecies and examine what the prophecies mean. They speculate on how the Messiah will affect their country.

“Do you think the new Kingdom of God will affect the world at large in any way?”

“You bet!” Saul says. “We’re going to rule the world!”

“In what sense?”

“In every sense, sir,” Saul responds simplistically. “We’ll rule with an iron hand! God will be on our side!”

“Sir,” Jesus interjects. “Could I call your attention to what both Isaiah and Micah said? Swords shall be melted down and made into plows.”

“Isaiah said the Deliverer would be a descendant of Jesse, whose son was King David,” Gamaliel responds. “Out of curiosity, how many in our group today are descendants of King David?”

Several raise their hands, including Jesus. Everyone grins, knowing none of them is the Messiah. They’re just ordinary people. Especially this boy toward the back of their group.

“Sir,” says Saul, “Micah said the Deliverer will be born in Bethlehem, Judea.” Jesus knows where he was born, Bethlehem.

Before Gamaliel has a chance to call for hands of those born in Bethlehem, singing of the Levite choir on the steps leading to the priest’s court interrupts them.

“Jesus! There you are.” It’s his mother.

“Well, I gotta be going. Nice to meet you.” He says to Saul.

Saul and Jesus have met only for a first time. It won’t be the last.

One day they will violently oppose each other. Jesus will die. Saul will kill many Christians for believing Jesus came back to life. Then Jesus, this boy of twelve, who Saul has been standing next to for two hours, will appear to him out of the heavens. Saul will then spend the rest of his life defending Jesus.

Saul has no idea, of course, that Jesus is God. But then, no one else does either, except Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth. And John. But no one else. And even they do not quite understand how. It doesn’t matter for now.

_____

Things continue like this all week. After a while, whenever Jesus cannot be located, Mary sends one of her children to go around to the discussion groups to look for their big brother. They always find him with the grownups.

Finally, the week draws to a close. The family has run into some relatives from Galilee and have decided to travel back north together. They decide to leave at mid-morning after one last trip to the temple.

The small caravan of friends and acquaintances makes its way out the gates of Jerusalem and heads north. Everyone is tired but content. Happy with their trip and that the foreign rulers are backing off from the citizens. Happy that things in Jerusalem are more normal these days. Excitedly chattering and exchanging stories.

“Remember when Eli tripped going up the steps to the men’s courtyard?” someone asks giggling.

“Hey, did you see how many children there were this year?” Another voice in the crowd.

“I’ll never forget when the choir sang. I’ve never heard anything so angelic in my life.” A woman puts her hands over her heart.

Four hours have passed. The women call ahead to the men and everyone pulls off to the side of the road and stops.

“Does everyone have enough water? Are the little ones okay?” Mary asks. The other women do the same, checking on the well-being of their children.

“You two boys have been fussing too much,” Joseph admonishes. “We’re going to have to separate you. One of you can walk with Jesus. Jesus, come take this boy! Jesus? Is Jesus in your group, Ebenezer? No? Someone go look among the widow Judith’s kids.”

“Don’t see him.”

The word spreads among the adults. They line up the children. “Where is Jesus?” everyone asks.

Mary and Joseph reluctantly realize no one had sent word to Jesus when they were leaving, and had left him behind. Frustrated, they send the others on their way, gather up their own children, and head back to Jerusalem.

What an anticlimax. “He ruins everything,” James complains.

They check the neighborhood where they had been staying. All day they check. Walking down the side streets calling. Knocking on doors. No sign of Jesus.

Mary is crying. Where is her son? He is in some kind of trouble. She recalls running for their lives from King Herod to Egypt at the beginning. Has he been found out and killed?

Oh God, help Jesus. Protect him, she pleads deep within her soul.

“We’ll spend the night, and try in town tomorrow,” Joseph consoles Mary. “He’s a sensible young man. He’s probably at the temple. They’ll give him a place to sleep in a guest room. He’ll be okay.”

Deep down in Joseph’s soul, he wonders. Herod is out of control. His soldiers are out of control. Did Jesus run into some drunken soldier that last evening? What did they do to him? He tries not to imagine it. He determines not to let on to Mary.

Reluctantly Jesus’ family returns to the inn where they had stayed. It is closed for cleanup. They must go to a different inn. Jesus will have no way of finding them.

That night, as they say their prayers, little Salome prays, “Dear God, take care of Jesus. He plays leap frog with me.”

_____

The next morning at dawn they head over to the temple. For the sake of his family, Joseph tries not to look worried. But deep down he is frantic. Is this the way he takes care of God’s Son?

“Mary, you take Salome. I’ll take James and Joseph Junior. We’ll meet back here in an hour, whether or not we find him.” Joseph instructs her.

Mary spots him. He is asking questions in one of the corridors. The discussion group is being taught by young but promising Doctor Caiaphas, a member of the Sanhedrin, the official religious High Council, who will become high priest one day. He will condemn Jesus, now only twelve years old, to be crucified. No one knows it yet. It is just as well.

Mary excuses herself as she makes her way through the discussion group. Jesus is so far in the front, she motions for someone to punch the skinny boy with the wrinkled robe and hair in his eyes.

Jesus looks her way, Mary motions to him, and he leaves with her. Out in the main courtyard, she hugs her son, then puts her hands on her sides and looks at him sternly but with tears of relief.

“Son, why have you treated us like this?” she asks. “Your father and I have been desperately searching for you everywhere.” Mary has forgotten for an instant that Jesus’ Father is God.

“Why did you feel you had to look all over for me?” he asks his mother. “Didn’t you realize I’d be here taking care of my Father’s concerns?”

She starts at his reply. He is not talking about Joseph. He is talking about Jehovah God. He knows! He not only knows, but he understands. In a way, she is not even sure she does. “My Father’s concerns,” he had said. Is this the beginning? He is so young. Age twelve is too young to declare he has come from God. Surely not yet.

Mary and her son walk out of the grand temple complex, her mind wanders back to when the angel made the announcement to her. She was just three years older than Jesus is now. Is he preparing to make the announcement when he is fifteen? Surely not. He is far too young.

  •  AD 8-24
  • Nazareth, Province of Galilee

 The family is reunited, and they all safely arrive back home.

A year later Mary has another child, a son. They name him Simon.

Things go along smoothly and without incident. Mary is relieved. She is not ready to let go of Jesus for the world to have. Not just yet.

The boys become involved in an organized series of foot racing, which they hold daily during the summer.

“Hey, Jesus, keep it up. Pass them. You can do it.” shouts little sister Salome from the sidelines.

“Yeahhhhh!”

A couple years later Mary’s youngest son is born—Jude.

The girls become involved in embroidery work and try to outdo each other.

“Jesus, would you show me how to draw a horse? I’m working on a plaque for Mother.”

A couple years after that Mary’s youngest daughter and child is born—Marta.

“So, you’ve got another baby sister. What’s her name, James?” Asks a curious neighbor.

“Marta,” James replies angrily. “She’s my real sister.”

The neighbor wonders if James is referring to the town gossip. He is, of course. Jesus has been a source of conflict ever since James can remember. How he hates his big brother. Or half-brother. Or whatever he is.

As Jesus grows and matures, his understanding of people does too. Eventually, people will forget the gossip. They will actually grow to like the young man.

In the following years, Jesus will contemplate alone who and what he is. He will search for messages to him from his Father—his real Father—in the scriptures.

One day, when he is grown, he will understand it all. Then he will know completely just who he is. The ultimate priest-king. The Creator Priest-King. The God-Man.

Isn’t that a little hard to believe, Jesus?

At his baptism, he will be given the power. Then he will prove who he is to himself and to all the others with miracles. Then he will be ready. Satan will not.

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