One of the more charming stories in the New Testament of the Christian Bible is that of the 12 year-old boy Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. The story is related in the book of Luke, and goes as follows.
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.
When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.
After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41-52)
The imagery and the story are charming. But is it true or likely? There are a number of reasons why we can question this story. The first consideration is the nature of the conception of Jesus.
The mother of Jesus was a woman called Mary, who was married to Joseph a carpenter in the village of Nazareth. But Joseph was not the father of Jesus, because his mother Mary was impregnated by God before her marriage to Joseph, and at a time when she was officially betrothed to Joseph.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)
The laws of Moses, directly revealed to Moses by God, and were current Jewish law at that time, unequivocally state that a free woman and man who have consensual sexual relations while the woman is betrothed to another man, should both be put to death. No exceptions. So while subsequent Christians rejoice at the conception of Jesus, this pregnancy was a potentially lethal disaster for Mary when you consider the law at the time.
If there be a damsel that is a virgin betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them to death with stones; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbor's wife: so thou shalt put away the evil from the midst of thee. (Deuteronomy 22: 23-24)
So if you interpret the laws of Moses very strictly, you realize that God's impregnation of Mary was an act deserving of death for God and Mary! Joseph undoubtedly realized that stoning God to death together with Mary was a mind-bogglingly ambitious task, even if it were possible. So Joseph seriously thought about divorcing, or breaking his betrothal with Mary in secret in order to avoid public shame and scandal, but was ultimately convinced by an angel of God to marry Mary.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.
And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-19).
Evidently Joseph was convinced by the angel appearing in his dream. So he and Mary somehow either hid her pregnancy, or concocted some story. And so Jesus was born. Accordingly, Jesus can be defined as God's bastard Son! This has certain consequences.
Jesus was a first generation bastard. As a first generation bastard, it was certainly illegal for Jesus to enter a synagogue or the temple in Jerusalem. Yet, as is revealed in the story of the 12 year old Jesus in the Temple, he was very knowledgeable of the laws of Moses. And one of the laws of God as handed down through Moses stated very clearly:
A bastard shall not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter into the assembly of Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 23:2).
Yet even though Jesus was knowledgeable of the law, and the fact he was a bastard, he entered the Temple on many occasions. He even enjoined strict adherence to these same laws.
Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with-not until the end of all things. (Matthew 5:18).
Does this mean Jesus was hypocritical? Does this mean he was exempted from this law, because he was the Son of God? Or does this mean this particular law of Moses is nonsense? This raises the fascinating question of which laws of Moses are truly valid.
Nonetheless, regardless of the content, this charming story is yet another example of interesting inconsistencies in the Christian Bible.
This page constructed 13 June 2013