More From R. T.

Ever wonder what Jesus was up to for the thirty or so years before he worked miracles and taught in public? R.T. France helps me see how strategic it was of God that Jesus WAS NOT taught in the best seminaries of his day nor was he raised the son of a priest or a prophet. NOR was he born in a prominent city. And to top it all off, history has most certainly NEVER gotten his birthday right (not the day, the month or even the right year)!

I Came to Set the World on Fire!

"His family was probably what we'd call middle class. The carpenter was a skilled craftsman perhaps employing labor, and certainly an important figure in the village economy. But they were not wealthy. ... Jesus was born into such a family about 6 BC. Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC.

Back home in Nazareth, Jesus was brought up in almost total obscurity. His later teaching shows that he had a full and sound grasp of the Hebrew scriptures, but that is no more than any pupil of the village synagogue-school could gain if he took his opportunity seriously. The level of literacy and formal education among the Jews was probably as high as in any other part of the Roman Empire, and a good grounding in the Old Testament Scriptures was the primary goal of this education.

With at least four younger brothers and an unknown number of sisters to be brought up (Mary's husband, Joseph, had passed from the scene before Jesus' adult years), the hope of formal education beyond the normal level must have been remote. At least Jesus, for all his remarkable grasp of the Old Testament, could not compete in paper qualifications with the scribes. To the superior eyes of Jerusalem he was uneducated.

Yet from this long hidden period of Jesus' life that many of the most effective features of his later teaching are no doubt derived. Most of Jesus' parables focus on the experiences and events of life in a village setting - farms, vineyards, village houses, shepherds on a hillside, fishermen by a lake.... They include many unforgettable portraits of people like shrewd managers, eccentric employers, a power-drunk local magistrate cut down to size by a nagging widow!

One of the secrets of the appeal of Jesus' teaching to such a variety of cultures over so many centuries is its firm earthing in ordinary everyday life and in the unchanging features of human characters.

It is not difficult to recognize yourself and your neighbors in many of Jesus' parables. If he had grown up in monastic isolation or the academic remoteness of Jerusalem, his teaching might not have been very widely appealing." pp 31-36