A brother in Christ was reading a passage in Revelation and it prompted him to make the declaration that Jesus would have known the Old Testament. My friend took his claim one step further by asserting that this knowledge would have been instilled from the womb because He was the Son of God. His assertions were posted in a group chat that is part of a devotional several of us take part in.
This is my response.
If I approach my understanding of Jesus through the word “learned,” the rabbit hole, as one “brother in Christ” put it, takes me to Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Let’s stop here for a moment and see if we can figure out where or how Jesus obtained His education.
For me, the obvious observation was that Jesus was NOT operating within the same educational patterns that we humans have to deal with. We gain some defining expressions from Hebrews.
Hebrews 5:7-9 MKJV For Jesus, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death and was heard in that He feared, (8) though being a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (9) And being perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him,
He was flesh from the moment God placed that embryo in Mary, with her permission of course; and, these two humans (Joseph and Mary,) had to teach Him who He was according to what was written and spoken about the Father. Now, consider that even one scroll, of perhaps Deuteronomy, would have been extremely expensive and so valued that you probably would not have touched it.
Here is something you rarely hear a preacher say, to make matters worse Jesus was deemed an illegitimate child, and the law of God forbade an illegitimate child from entering the Synagogue or Temple (Deuteronomy 23:2.) With that in mind, all that Jesus came to understand was from the oral traditions. As Jesus grew beside Joseph all the law, stories, and history were recited at every opportunity.
Another consideration is that silly game we played as children where a sentence is whispered into the ear of the person next to you. The sentence has typically changed its meaning drastically by the time it hits the fourth person. Now add thousands of years to these stories; it could only be the Holy Spirit of God that could have preserved the truth and details of these epic adventures God has taken with us.
How is it that I should have an impulse such as this, for I find myself constantly telling these same stories of and about God?
So let’s break down Hebrews 5:7-9.
“in the days of His flesh.”
In a human frame or body, humanity.
“Though he were a Son.”
Generally used of the offspring of men, but, in the case of Jesus, he was deemed a male offspring. But it is also used to describe one who depends on another.
“Yet learned obedience“
Obedience also means to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo.
“By the things which he suffered.”
Suffered means to be affected or have been affected, to feel, or to have a sensible experience, to undergo.
So, it is clear that Jesus had to undergo life as a human, but without the drive to sin.
If you cannot understand this concept of being without sin, then you have missed the importance of God having Mary carry a fertilized embryo that bypassed the genetic damage sustained through Adam; damage that apparently pushes us to lust. Remember, the lamb (Jesus) had to be unblemished.
The plan of God to redeem humanity had to work this way to be legal. This legality goes back to the garden and Adam’s treason as Adam relinquished the dominion of the earth to Satan with his actions. Therefore, everything we see in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is part of God’s plan to redeem the world and humanity; and thus we have Jesus being born of man.
Because Mary stood her ground, saying that God was the father of Jesus, she was scorned, and Jesus was deemed an illegitimate child. Give me a break, none of those neighbors in Bethlehem bought into the idea that this baby was the product of God doing an in Vitro fertilization, they did not even have terminology like that. So Mary was thought of as nothing less than a liar. Joseph’s acceptance of Mary’s claim made him just as unbelievable.
Do you struggle with this, too bad because this is reality?
Did you notice that when Joseph went back to his hometown, with his betrothed wife, a wife that apparently continued to hold her belief and understanding of what transpired, NONE of Joseph’s kinfolk would take him and his betrothed into their homes?
Continuing down the rabbit hole, as one brother in Christ puts it.
How did Jesus learn the Old Testament?
Well, Matthew 1:19 gives us one of the greatest clues about Jesus’ education when it says Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man. Righteous, according to Thayer, is one who observes divine laws, and, keeps the commands of God. Jesus, being a Mumzer (an illegitimate child according to God’s law,) would not have been allowed into the synagogue or their schools to learn the scriptures, therefore, it was the father’s role to teach the young Jesus, and he did just that; he was qualified.
At age twelve we find the young Yahshua (Jesus) in the Synagogue in Jerusalem, a place where he was not known, intelligently discussing scriptures with the scribes and elders.