As a young boy, moving through adolescence, Jesus would be witness to those who teased or hurt others – those who were unfair and just plain mean. Bullies aren’t new. For Jesus, however, He saw it as injustice and might even chastise someone for their behavior. Living under Roman rule, He would also notice that most of the land was now owned by the rich aristocrats and leaders of the church. Jewish families, who originally owned property , were now deeply indebted and had to work as tenant farmers in order to remain in their homes.
Tax collectors, working for Rome, would charge exorbitant charges if they found that the tenant was holding back on any of his earnings. It wasn’t uncommon for interest of 50% to be added to loans. For the most part, the average Jew was poor. They often would work for a daily wage, just to provide for their families.
Because they were living at poverty level, there was a lot of hunger and disease caused by not eating properly. Diseases were not treated as they are today and the community of Israel was collapsing, because everyone was in the same boat. Prior to this, they could count on friends and relatives to loan them money without having to repay. They were used to helping each other with building projects, bringing new life into the world, providing food, helping a widow to survive after the death of a spouse . It was a part of the Mosaic Law to take care and provide for those in need.
Jesus stepfather, Joseph, was a tradesman, thus he made an income. Still living in a little town like Nazareth, there wasn’t much call for large projects. He made tables, chairs and eating utensils. Jesus apprenticed under Joseph and learned the satisfaction of hard work. He therefore was strong and His hands would’ve been calloused by the constant shaping of wood.
Surrounded by poverty and illness, Jesus took compassion on the sick and poor. Later, as He spoke the Beatitudes, we can see how much He valued them. All around, changes were being made. Herod’s building projects allowed trade to flourish, because there were roads where there weren’t before. But most of the benefits went to the land owners and politicians.
Jesus saw the unjust treatment of his neighbors by the Roman soldiers. He watched as they were beaten for misunderstanding what was expected of them. Because He knew His purpose for coming to earth, it was necessary for Him to see and experience these things and feel the sting of them, in order to know how the common man felt.
It was the right time in history. Just as it was when Esther approached her husband, the King, at just the right moment, to free her people. Just as God provided a proper sacrifice to Abraham, so he wouldn’t need to kill his son. Just in the nick of time. Sometimes we wonder why God makes us wait. Maybe He wants us to learn to depend on Him completely for the things that occur in our lives. We may be tested in this life, but God will answer prayers – and often at just the precise moment.
Jesus remained obedient to His parents, lived those years as a carpenter, studied the Scriptures, showed compassion to others and knew what He had to do to make things right with His heavenly Father. His compassion remained on the road to Calvary, as He bled and suffered on our behalf. Now He was preparing for that walk and growing in strength and wisdom.