Jesus, in addition to being identified as the central figure of world’s largest religion, is widely recognized as a historical figure. While historical Jesus scholars do not have any verifiable information about his childhood, Jesus was human, and thus must have been a child. The Gospel of Luke presents a story about the boy Jesus. While it is unlikely that this story holds any historical weight, it does provide an image of Jesus that is relevant and valuable to the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 's story of the "Boy Jesus at the Temple," Jesus simultaneously acknowledges that he is human and divine by demonstrating his loyalties to both his parents and God. This argument will first address how the boy Jesus understood his identity as a human child and how this human identity is expressed in the loyalty he shows Mary and Joseph. Then, Jesus’ childhood understanding of his divinity will be examined, followed by an explanation of how the young Jesus showed his loyalty as “Son of God.”
Before engaging in the images of Jesus present in the text, it is important to address the understandings scholars have on its function in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 2:41-52, twelve-year-old Jesus, his mother Mary, and Mary’s husband Joseph celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. On the journey home, Mary and Joseph realize Jesus is no longer with them, so they turn back and are surprised to find the boy in the temple. A version of this story is also told in The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, but this argument is centered on Luke’s version, which, notably, is the only canonical Gospel that has a story of Jesus’ childhood. Only Luke found it necessary to insert an event between the birth narrative and the adult Jesus’ teachings. This is where Matthew and Ma...
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...s addresses the benefit of Jesus’ humanness through his mother Mary’s response. By scolding him in Luke 2:48, she treats him as any upset mother would treat her son. Her misunderstanding of his exact identity in 2:50-51 follows this. Because Mary treated Jesus as a “typical boy,” he was not in the spotlight, and thus “the less others knew about Jesus, the more control Jesus exerted over his own fate.” Until this story of Jesus in the temple, Mary and Joseph raised Jesus as a “normal” human child without incident or concern for others’ reactions to his divinity. The long break between the boy Jesus in the temple and Luke’s third chapter, which introduces John the Baptist and the adult Jesus ' baptism shows that Jesus was able to lead a reasonably normal life after this incident. He was able to continue life as solely human to those around him, and this kept him safe.
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