The first 30 years of Jesus’ life were preparation for the final 3 years. We don’t know a lot about those first 30 years. There are only a few stories told. There are big gaps in time.
How old was Jesus when the Magi visited and then the angel told Joseph to leave for Egypt with his family? We assume He was between one and two, since Herod wanted all boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years old and younger killed.
How old was Jesus when Herod died and his family returned from Egypt to Nazareth? King Herod died in 4BC. The best estimates are that Jesus was born in 6BC, since that date lines up with a Roman census taken during that time. So it would appear that Jesus’ family stayed in Egypt for less than a year and He was between two and three when He was brought to Nazareth.
One interesting thought. It seems likely that King Herod died shortly after killing off all the boys two and under in Bethlehem, and his death was gruesome. His death is described this way: “A frightful inward burning consumed him, and the stench of his sickness was such that his attendants could not stay near him. So horrible was his condition that he even endeavored to end it by suicide.” (biblestudytools.com)
Herod’s death reminds me of Paul’s words in Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
There is a big gap between the return from Egypt and the next recorded event where we see Jesus in the Temple at age 12. And then another sizable gap from age 12 to Jesus’ baptism around age 30. What was going on during these gaps of time? We can only assume that it was a normal, rural Jewish life for Jesus. Going to school, worshiping at the local synagogue, learning carpentry from His father, regular travels to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals. And from what we read in Psalm 69, there was rejection and scorn that Jesus endured.
We do know that Jesus was growing close to the Father. He was learning the scripture and likely cultivating the habits of regular rhythms of prayer and fasting.
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
During these 30 years, how do we see the Father preparing Jesus?
The Father provided Jesus with His earthly parents. Joseph and Mary were devoted to God, righteous, faithful, obedient. They raised Jesus to know, love and serve His Father. They modeled godliness for Him.
The Father also protected Jesus from harm. He warned Joseph in a dream that danger was imminent. They fled to Egypt. Joseph was then warned in a dream not to return to Judea because Archelaus was ruling in place of his father Herod. They settled in Nazareth of Galilee instead.
The Father produced character, competence and compassion in Jesus. He grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man. We read in Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus “learned obedience from what He suffered.”
30 years of preparation for 3 years of ministry.
That’s a lot of preparation, but I think a leadership principle surfaces from this.
The more significant the assignment, the more thorough the preparation. We tend to rush people into leadership. I think it’s important for us to remember that the Father is not in a hurry and never acts in haste.
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