If Jesus was real, then He had a certain ethnicity. In His humanity He belonged to a specific people group and therefore, was brought up in a certain culture. In other words, who were His parents? How was He raised? Well, acknowledging that Jesus was Jewish actually gives us great insight into how Jesus was likely raised and what His culture was like. We are all influenced by our culture and Jesus was no different.
Was Jesus Jewish?
The New Testament starts right off with the fact that Jesus was Jewish. The two genealogies in Matthew and Luke clearly identify Jesus as a Son of David, and also a Son of Abraham. Here are a few more ways the gospels identify Jesus as Jewish:
– He was circumcised on the eighth day (Lk 2:21).
– He attended synagogue on the Sabbath (Saturday or the 7th day of the week) and you actually see in the Gospels that He was often a guest teacher in the Synagogues.
– Jesus quotes from the Hebrew Bible (the OT) constantly when teaching.
– He died with the Psalms on His lips like every good Jewish man hopes to do. At least two of Jesus statements on the Cross were actual quotes from the Psalms.
In fact, when Jewish people today read the Gospels they are shocked at how Jewish Jesus really is.
Jesus’ human identity, His culture, and His society were all Jewish based.
What does this mean for how Jesus was raised?
It means that Jesus’ year would have revolved around the seven Biblical feasts found in Leviticus 23, not Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. (There is absolutely nothing wrong with those holidays, let’s just admit Jesus didn’t celebrate them.) Jesus’ family would have gone to the Temple to make sacrifices and attended synagogue on the Sabbath.
The Jewish people were and still are big advocates in the parents training up their children. Deut 6 says that parents are to be consistently teaching their children about God. And we know Mary and Joseph were devout Jews. Jesus’ earthly father Joseph was known as a “righteous man.” (Matt 1) A righteous person in the Bible is one who walks faithful according to God’s commands. And we see that in Joseph’s life. Every time Joseph was told to do something by an angel, he did it. He was obedient to God. Luke 2:41 states that Joseph made sure his family went to Jerusalem yearly for the Passover festival as the Bible commanded (Deut 16). Mary’s amazing song she sang in Luke 1 shows her deep knowledge and understanding of Scripture because it’s all Scripture she wove together.
Jesus was brought up in a devout Jewish family, therefore it’s highly likely they followed the traditional Jewish model for raising up and training Jesus and His siblings.
In the majority of Jewish families at the age of 5 the child (male and female) would begin memorizing the book of Leviticus. And from there he or she would move on to the other first 5 books of the Bible and after that the rest of the OT. Yes they would try to memorize most if not all of the Old Testament.
At the age of 10 the child would begin studying what previous Jewish Teachers/Rabbis had taught about the Scriptures.
When he turned 13 the son was considered a man and therefore, now responsible to obey the commands.
Potentially at 15, if the son was especially bright, he would study more in-depth teachings from the Rabbis.
Girls usually had the same training but many would stop at 13 to begin preparing for marriage.
The Middle east is a hot place to live both physically and emotionally. They love to debate and discuss and it can get heated, still to this day. Jesus’ parents likely had lively and intense debates about Scripture and, they would have encouraged their children to get involved. Even today if you were to walk into a yeshiva, a Jewish school, it would not be quiet like our schools where kids mainly sit and listen to lectures. In a yeshiva kids are encouraged and challenged to talk, to ask questions, to debate. They also recite their lessons out loud. It’s a very noisy place. With that mindset, the kids who do the best are the kids who ask the most insightful questions. Which hopefully brings to mind a certain story in Luke 2 (vs 41) about a twelve year old boy in the Temple asking questions and amazing the teachers there with His insight.
Jesus’ world was saturated with the Scriptures. They were incredibly grounded in the Word but it started in the homes.
Parents do you count it as your blessing and your responsibility to train up your children to know the word of God? Or, are you leaving it to the Sunday school teachers, the youth pastor, and the Church? Do you talk to your kids about the Bible at home?