Jesus about twelve years old

Other than the simple fact that Jesus lived in Nazareth with His parents, the only Biblical record of His life as a youth is a description of one of the family’s annual journeys to Jerusalem for one of the annual Passover Festivals.

On the family trip to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, in Jesus’ twelfth year, Jesus became separated from the family group heading home to Nazareth. He had remained in the Temple to continue a discourse on the Scriptures with the rabbis.

Jesus stayed behind for a tutorial with the Temple rabbis and teachers, who were amazed by the boy’s level of understanding. At twelve years of age, a Jewish boy could start his training to become a rabbi, which would be completed at around the age of thirty if he was sufficient academically to finish. By twelve a boy who wanted to become a rabbi needed to quote the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, from memory.

After Jesus’ parents had found Him, they continued their journey home together. The Bible, at this point in Jesus’ life, does not say much more about Him, until He commenced His public ministry. The Bible clearly says that Jesus had a number of half-brothers (including James and Jude) and half-sisters, because Joseph and Mary had more children following the birth of Jesus. Mark 6:3.

Background Reading: – The Boy Jesus at the Temple

41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions

47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:41-52


The Return to Nazareth

19 But after Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up,” he said. “Take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”

21 So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus (one of the Herod’s) was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, after having been warned in a dream. So he left for the region of Galilee 23 and settled in a town called Nazareth in order to fulfill what was said by the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:19-23

Old Testament readings include: Isaiah 7:15; 9:1-2; 11:1; 53:2.

More Information:

At 12, like every Jewish boy, Jesus became a “son of the Law” or “servant (Greek – pais) of the Law”, old enough to start serving God. This was Jesus’ coming of age or Bar Mitzvah.

Between 12-13 years old a Jewish boy becomes a man.

Jesus grew up and stayed with His parents until He left home to start His public ministry.

Read Psalm 69, especially concentrating on verses 4-12.

The Biblical narrative skips approximately 20 years, and recommences with the story of Jesus’ Ministry which lasted only about three and a half years ending with His death on a cross.

The next module tells us about His Ministry.

Other slides in this module: