Back to The Quick Teachings Page

 

The Bible says very little about the childhood of Jesus. Obviously His childhood is not the time in His life when Jesus has left us the most teaching.

However, it is always very interesting to know about Jesus' childhood because it shows us on the one hand the precision of God in everything He does, and on the other hand it gives us a much better view of Jesus' adult life.

The more we know about a person's life in detail, the more we can identify with that person.

 

All Christians know that the coming of Jesus to earth was announced more than 700 years ago by prophets of the Old Testament. The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel are among the best known, but also another prophet, Micah, who is a little less known, also brought his share of prophecies.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited her relative Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, when she was six months pregnant. At this point we can safely assume that Mary had just become pregnant with Jesus. What prompts us in this thought is the fact that when Mary entered Elizabeth's house, the child she was carrying reacted to the sound of her voice.

Luke 1:41-43  And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

The person of Jesus, having been incarnated in his mother Mary, caused a 6-month-old foetus, John, to react in the womb of his mother Elizabeth. This shows us not only that a child in the womb is already a person, but also that it is sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit. We will not go into the details of this event because it is not our subject, but everyone will be able to draw the necessary conclusions from it in the face of certain practices today.

 

The moment is approaching when Mary reaches the ninth month of her pregnancy. There is reason to think that she and Joseph have already foreseen the arrival of this child. Everything was surely ready to welcome this first child into their family.

But Joseph and Mary's plans began to be turned upside down. For them it was the beginning of a few eventful years.

Just a few weeks before giving birth, Marie finds out that she has to undertake a trip of several weeks on a donkey. In fact, the Bible tells us that Caesar decided to take a census of all the inhabitants of the earth, which is why everyone had to go to his home town to be counted.

 

Luke 2:4  Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

Joseph and Mary therefore set off on a journey of about 150 km. It is difficult to estimate exactly how long it took to cover 150 kms, but we can easily assume that this journey took several weeks. Even on a donkey, the stops must have been quite frequent in view of Mary's condition. It is also important to realise that 2 or 3 days of walking is one thing, but several weeks is another, in terms of physical fatigue, not to mention the fact that they had to set up their tent every night, and unpack it every morning.  

It is now easier to understand that when Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, their journey having surely been slower, all the places that could have accommodated them were full. 

But we will see that this was by no means due to chance. God had not foreseen that Joseph and Mary would be accommodated in a house for the coming of Jesus into our world. Not only the fact that Jesus was not born in a conventional house was not a coincidence on the part of God, but the fact that he was born in Bethlehem was not a coincidence either.

Things had been planned in this way for a long time.

This is what some prophets like Micah said, more than 700 years before his coming:

Micah 5:2 (5-1) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

This same passage was taken up by the chief priests and the scribes of the people:

 

Matthew 2:6  ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

God doesn't do anything randomly.

And it is not by a spirit of complacency, nor to show His superiority, that He foresees that certain events and details are linked together. It is simply to give us extra help so that we have plenty of proof that He is real, that He loves us and that He wants to give us this opportunity to be transformed in His image, and to spend eternity with Him.

 

So Joseph and Mary arrived in a stable, because there was no other place for them elsewhere.

We might wonder if a few people could not have noticed that Mary was pregnant when she and Joseph knocked on several doors to ask for accommodation for a few nights.

Yes indeed, some people could have made room for Mary when they saw her condition, but no one did.

No one did because it was planned that Mary would give birth to her son Jesus in a manger.

It is important to understand what a manger is.

Today most of us are used to giving the same definition to the word manger. For most people, a manger is simply the place where Jesus was born. For others, a manger is like a kind of stable where animals spend the night.

Neither of these definitions is correct.

In order to better understand this event and its context, let us look at the city of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem has been a place where for hundreds of years, as in other cities, sacrifices were celebrated according to the Law of Moses.  

We only have to look at the fact that King David already went to Bethlehem during his lifetime to make sacrifices.

 

1 Samuel 20:6  If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’

The city of Bethlehem was therefore a city where not only sacrifices were regularly made, but Bethlehem also served as a supply of animals for the city of Jerusalem about 10 km away.

Bethlehem's main task at that time was to provide animals for the temple in Jerusalem.

 

It is therefore easy to understand and realise that all around Bethlehem there were fields with a multitude of animals for breeding. Oxen, lambs, etc... In most cases, and when a lamb was sacrificed, it had to be one year old and must not have any physical defects. When the lambs were about to be born, their mothers were placed in the manger. A manger was therefore a covered and closed place where the animals, and especially the lambs, were born. The manger was a bit like a maternity ward for animals.

For thousands of years, the lamb has been used for sacrifices in the Bible. We are not going to go into the details of sacrifices because this teaching would no longer be a "short and quick" teaching. But we will retain several facts such as these:

 

Abraham told his son that he would sacrifice a lamb, knowing within himself that he would sacrifice his son, if an angel had not prevented him.

 

Genesis 22:7-8  But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

The lamb was frequently used for sacrifices that concerned the whole people:

Exodus 12:3, 5  Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household… Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

Exodus 29:40-42 With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering.  And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet you to speak with you.

Very often this sacrificial lamb had to stay for a year in the pastures. These lambs lived outdoors for a year before being transported to Jerusalem.  Things are now beginning to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to be born in a manger, where the lambs for sacrifice in Jerusalem were born. I am sure that everyone has now drawn the parallel between Jesus being born in that manger and his sacrifice in Jerusalem 33 years later. The manger in which Jesus was placed was used to feed these animals destined for sacrifice. Now it was He Himself who, after His sacrifice, was going to serve as "food" for all mankind. Jesus would, 33 years later, give His person in order to take away the sin of mankind.

 

Luke 2:6-15 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

This is why these shepherds were still in their fields in the middle of the night. The lambs had to live outside during their first year.

John 7:42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”

Jesus is the Messiah who came to take away the sin of the world. From the moment of His birth, everything was planned in advance in order to bring a saviour and a great hope for all mankind.

It was only a little less than two years later that some wise men noticed the presence of a new star and, guided by an angel, arrived in Jerusalem to ask where this child who was born and who is the King of the Jews is. The Bible is not explicit on this subject, but there is a good chance that Joseph and Mary were still in Bethlehem, but this time living in a house. 

Matthew 2:1-3 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

The wise men set out following the star to find Jesus in order to worship Him and offer gifts, but they were careful not to warn Herod as to the whereabouts of Jesus.

Matthew 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

Here again God had conceived a perfect plan even if Satan had a completely different plan on his side to have this child executed so that He would not be able to take away the sin of mankind.

Once again it's an improvised trip for Joseph and Mary, but this time with their child Jesus who is only two years old. 

We can easily assume that for a little less than two years things had been beginning to stabilise for this family. They had a house, Joseph surely had a job and life was supposed to flow normally.

But this lull was brief. The wise men arrived at the house of Joseph and Mary, surely warning them of King Herod's diabolical plans.

 

Matthew 2:11-14 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. The Flight into Egypt Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt …

It is once again a race, this time to save the life of their child Jesus, that Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt. Here again God has planned everything and leaves nothing to chance.

It is with more than sufficient wealth that Joseph and Mary can flee to Egypt.

The wise kings travelling with a multitude of servants, their offerings of gold, myrrh and incense had been made in generous quantities. In those days the gifts from one king to another were sumptuous. Myrrh and frankincense were of great value. They could not arrive, as we can do today, with a small bag saying: "Here, this is a gift for you".

We have several examples in the Bible, from the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon and bringing kilos and hundreds of kilos of gifts. Or again when Abraham left Egypt taking with him a multitude of gifts given by Pharaoh. Or again when the Hebrews fled Egypt, the Egyptians had given them gifts of great value. The Bible does not lack examples of this type.

God makes Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt and provides for their life in Egypt before they leave, for the duration of their stay and much more, while waiting for the death of King Herod so that they can return safely to Israel.

In the same way, God wishes to provide, for those who believe Him, not only for material needs, but He has also provided, through the sacrifice of Jesus, for that which prevented us from regaining that image of God, which was in the persons of Adam and Eve when they were created.  We can find all that we have lost!

 

God loves you much more than He loves Himself!

 

John 1:29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

 

Bye for now.