JESUS – TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD
This was Jesus’ first year of comparative freedom from family responsibility. James was very successful in managing the home with Jesus help in counsel and finances. The week following the Passover of this year a young man from Alexandria came down to Nazareth to arrange for a meeting, later in that year, between Jesus and a group of Alexandrian Jews at some point on the Palestinian coast. This conference was set for the middle of June, and Jesus went over to Caesarea to meet with five prominent Jews of Alexandria, who besought him to establish himself in their city as a religious teacher, offering as an inducement to begin with, the position of assistance to the chazan in their chief synagogue.
The spokesmen for this committee explained to Jesus that Alexandria was destined to become the headquarters of Jewish culture for the entire world; that the Hellenistic trend of Jewish affairs had virtually out distanced the Babylonian school of thought. They reminded Jesus of the ominous rumblings of rebellion in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine and assured him that any uprising of the Palestinian Jews would be equivalent to national suicide that the iron hand of Rome would crush the rebellion in three months, and that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the temple demolished, that not one stone would be left upon another.
Jesus listened to all they had to say, thanked them for their confidence, and, in declining to go to Alexandria, in substance said, “My hour has riot yet come.” They were nonplused by his apparent indifference to the honor they had sought to confer upon him. Before taking leave of Jesus, they presented him with a purse in token of the esteem of his Alexandrian friends and in compensation for the- time and expense of corning over to Caesarea to confer with them. But he likewise refused the money, saying: “The house of Joseph has never received alms, and we cannot eat another’s bread as long as I have strong arms and my brothers can labor.”
His friends from Egypt set sail for home, and in subsequent years, when they heard rumors of the Capernaum boat builder who was creating such a commotion in Palestine, few of them surmised that he was the babe of Bethlehem grown up and the same strange-acting Galilean who had so unceremoniously declined the invitation to become a great teacher in Alexandria.
Jesus returned to Nazareth. The remainder of this year was the most uneventful six months of his whole career. He enjoyed this temporary respite from the usual program of problems to solve and difficulties to surmount. He communed much with his Father in heaven and made tremendous progress in the mastery of his human mind.
But human affairs on the worlds of time and space do not run smoothly for long. In December James had a private talk with Jesus, explaining that he was much in love with Esta, a young woman of Nazareth and that they would sometime like to be married if it could be arranged. He called attention to the fact that Joseph would soon be eighteen, and that it would be a good experience for him to have a chance to serve as the acting head of the family. Jesus gave consent for James’ marriage two years later, provided he had, during the intervening time, properly trained Joseph to assume direction of the home.
And now things began to happen – marriage was in the air. James’ success in gaining Jesus’ assent to his marriage emboldened Miriam to approach her brother- father with her plans. Jacob, the younger stone mason, onetime self-appointed champion of Jesus, now business associate of James and Joseph, had long sought to gain Miriam’s hand in marriage. After Miriam had laid her plans before Jesus, he directed that Jacob come to him making formal request for her and promised his blessing for the marriage just as soon as she felt that Martha was competent to assume her duties as eldest daughter.
When at home, Jesus continued to teach the evening school three times a week, read the Scriptures often in the synagogue on the Sabbath, visited with his mother, taught the children, and in general conducted himself as a worthy and respected citizen of Nazareth in the commonwealth of Israel.
JESUS – TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD
This year began with the Nazareth family all in good health and witnessed the finishing of the regular schooling of all the children with the exception of certain work which Martha must do for Ruth.
Jesus was one of the most robust and refined specimens of manhood to appear on earth since the days of Adam. His physical development was superb. His mind was active, keen and penetrating – compared with the average mentality of his contemporaries, it had developed gigantic proportions – and his spirit was indeed humanly divine.
The family finances were in the best condition since the disappearance of Joseph’s estate. The final payments had been made on the caravan repair shop; they owed no man and for the first time in years had some funds ahead. This being true, and since he had taken his other brothers to Jerusalem for their first Passover ceremonies, Jesus decided to accompany Jude (who had just graduated from the synagogue school) on his first visit to the temple.
They went up to Jerusalem and returned by the same route, the Jordan valley, as Jesus feared trouble if he took his young brother through Samaria. Already at Nazareth, Jude had gotten into slight trouble several times because of his hasty disposition, coupled with his strong patriotic sentiments.
They arrived at Jerusalem in due time and were on their way for a first visit to the temple, the very sight of which had stirred and thrilled Jude to the very depths of his soul, when they chanced to meet Lazarus of Bethany. While Jesus talked with Lazarus and sought to arrange for their joint celebration of the Passover, Jude started up real trouble for them all. Close at hand stood a Roman guard who made some improper remarks regarding a Jewish girl who was passing. Jude flushed with fiery indignation and was not slow in expressing his resentment of such an impropriety directly to and within hearing of the soldier. Now the Roman legionnaires were very sensitive to anything bordering on Jewish disrespect; so the guard promptly placed Jude under arrest. But this was too much for the young patriot, and before Jesus could caution him by a warning glance, he had delivered himself of a voluble denunciation of pent-up anti-Roman feelings, all of which only made a bad matter worse. Jude thus, with Jesus by his side, was taken at once to the military prison.
Jesus endeavored to obtain either an immediate hearing for Jude or else his release in time of the Passover celebration that evening, but he failed in these attempts. Since the next day was a “holy convocation” in Jerusalem, even the Romans would not presume to hear charges against a Jew. Accordingly, Jude remained in confinement until the morning of the second day after his arrest, and Jesus stayed at the prison with him. They were not present in the temple at the ceremony of receiving the sons of the law into the full citizenship of Israel. Jude did not pass through this formal ceremony for several years, until he was next in Jerusalem at a Passover and in connection with his propaganda work in behalf of the Zealots, the patriotic organization to which he belonged and in which he was very active. The morning following their second day in prison Jesus appeared before the military magistrate in behalf of Jude. By making apologies for his brother’ s youth and by a further explanatory but judicious statement with reference to the provocative nature of the episode which had led up to the arrest of his brother, Jesus so handled the case that the magistrate expressed the opinion that the young Jew might have had some possible excuse for his violent outburst. After warning Jude not to allow himself again to be guilty of such rashness, he said to Jesus in dismissing them: “You had better keep your eye on the boy; he’s liable to make a lot of trouble for all of you.” And the Roman judge spoke the truth. Jude did make considerable trouble for Jesus, and always was the trouble of this same nature- clashes with the civil authorities because of his thoughtless and unwise patriotic outbursts.
Jesus and Jude walked over to Bethany for the night, explaining why they had failed to keep their appointment for the Passover supper, and set out for Nazareth the following day. Jesus did not tell the family about his young brother’s arrest at Jerusalem. But he had a long talk with Jude about this episode some three weeks after their return. After this talk with Jesus, Jude himself told the family. Ne never forgot the patience and forbearance his brother-father manifested throughout the whole of this trying experience.
This was the last Passover Jesus attended with any member of his own family. Increasingly the Son of Man was to become separated from close association with his own flesh and blood.
This year his seasons of deep meditation were often broken into by Ruth and her playmates. And always was Jesus ready to postpone the contemplation of his future work for the world and the universe that he might share in the childish joy and youthful gladness of these youngsters, who never tired of listening to Jesus relate the experiences of his various trips to Jerusalem. They also greatly enjoyed his stories about animals and nature.
The children were always welcome at the repair shop. Jesus provided sand, blocks and stones by the side of the shop, and large groups of youngsters flocked there to amuse themselves. When they tired of their play, the more courageous ones would peek into the shop, and if its keeper were not busy, they would make bold to go in and say, “Uncle Joshua, come out and tell us a big story.” Then they would lead him out by tugging at his hands until he was seated on the favorite rock by the corner of the shop with the children on the ground in a semicircle before him. And how the little folks did enjoy their Uncle Joshua. They were learning to laugh and to laugh heartily. It was customary for one or two of the smallest of the children to climb upon his knees and sit there, looking up in wonderment at his expressive features as he told his stories. The children loved Jesus and Jesus loved the children.
It was difficult for his friends to comprehend the range of his intellectual activities, how he could so suddenly and so completely swing from the profound discussion of politics, philosophy, or religion to the light- hearted and joyous playfulness of these tots from five to ten years of age. As his own brothers and sisters grew up, as he gained more leisure, and before the grandchildren arrived, he paid a great deal of attention to these little ones. But, he did not live on earth long enough to enjoy the grandchildren very much.