Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Lost Years of Jesus

I am occasionally asked about the so-called "lost years" or "missing years" of Jesus."  These phrases refer to the life of Christ between the ages of 12 and 30. The Bible talks about his birth, first two years in Egypt, and return to Nazareth. Then it skips to his bar mitzvah at age 12. After this the Scriptures are silent about Jesus' life until he begins his public ministry at about the age of 30.

Usually people ask about these silent years because they have watched a television "documentary" (I use that term lightly), or read a book, or heard a teaching that claims to fill in the gaps in the biblical record. Usually it is a story about Jesus as a yogi in India or a lama in Tibet. Any serious historian will tell you that these extra-biblical accounts of Jesus' life are pure speculation.

Why does the Bible tell us almost nothing about the first thirty years of Jesus' life? I wish they did. It would be interesting reading. But there is a reason they are not mentioned: those years are not important.

We Westerners are obsessed with the importance of our lives. We take the events of our lives very seriously. Celebrities write their autobiographies as if they were writing holy scripture. At Barnes & Noble I saw the autobiography of Miley Cyrus, which she wrote last year at age 16. What life wisdom does a 16-year-old actress have to share?

The gospel writers did not give us the details of Jesus' first thirty years of life because they did not consider them important. Jesus did not speak about his early life because he did not think it was important. To Jesus all that was important was what God was doing. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."

It does not matter if Jesus traveled. It does not matter what his favorite song was, his favorite color, or his feelings about his dad's death. All that mattered to Christ was the Kingdom of God and his role in it.

The stories of our lives are not important. I know that may be hard to accept, but no one but your therapist really cares about your childhood and your unresolved emotional issues. And she only cares because you pay her to care. All that matters is the Kingdom of God and our role in it.

The details of our lives will be forgotten. Our personalities and accomplishments are utterly trivial. That goes for both celebrities and average folks. All that matters is our connection to the Eternal. The rest is just a story that we tell ourselves to convince others that we are important.

Every year spent living outside God's will are lost years. Every day spent living God's story is time well spent. As the apostle Paul writes, "Walk in wisdom ... redeeming the time."

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