Socio-economic conditions, poverty, oppressive rulers, lack of spiritual leadership and corruption in the church, over taxation, trade – all these things played a part in what Jesus was becoming. As He watched His parents struggle, His siblings leave the nest and start their own journeys and His friends stray further and further away from the Old Testament laws and promises, He couldn’t help but see the needs of His fellow Jews. They had forgotten the instructions for economic living. Their life under Rome wouldn’t permit that. Very few still owned land and that was being taxed to the hilt. They also forgot how to care for one another – love was missing from their vocabulary. As soon as love flees, it gives way to hate and anger and soon destruction.
The Torah wasn’t being taught on a daily basis, as it should’ve been. Families were breaking apart. Religion had become geared to the hierarchy and the common folk felt they had nothing to fall back on. We see things like this today as our own country has become so self-absorbed and God has taken a back seat – again. When things aren’t going well, we should turn towards Him, rather than running away.
This boy, Jesus, who studied diligently with the scholars – who had complete understanding of God’s Word – who was determined to be about His true Father’s business – knew He had a mission to fill. He would bring hope back to the people. He’d show them there was a purpose for their lives. He told them to love one another as they used to. He demanded they follow the truth of God in His commandments and laws. He did not come to us, to condemn the law, but to fulfill it.
The young man, Jesus, who worked hard along His step father, was obedient to His parents and showed them respect, ate, slept, drank, walked, wept, laughed like any other teen, but never fell into temptation, was determined to complete the work He was destined to do.
His parables would be well received, because His audience could relate. He would upset the tables of the merchants using the temple area for selling their wares. He called them a den of thieves. He pulled no punches, yet He exuded kindness and comfort.
So what do we know about Jesus? He was the perfect son. His siblings probably didn’t like that too much. He worked hard at a physical job. He traveled by foot to celebrate the Passover each year. He saw the corruption within the synagogue and challenged them. He was strong physically. He was vocally astute, as He later would speak to crowds of thousands and each ear would be open to His words. He was kind and compassionate and loved everyone.
He suffered sadness, depression, (as He prayed for the cup to pass from his lips) grief, as friends would die and go through illnesses. He witnessed their poverty and hunger and provided abundantly when the time was right. He respected the government, because all government (good or bad) is instituted by God. He was a common man, yet had a captivating personality which opened doors and minds for Him. He could heal people from their afflictions, drive out demons, restore life to the dead, because He was not just an ordinary man. In the end He bore the sins of the world as He was tortured and carried His cross to Calvary.
What kind of person would do that? Most folks today think only of themselves. We still have a few who put their lives on the line in their work or in the service of our country, but when it comes right down to it, we have become very self-serving.
When Jesus lived, the world was a mess. He saw all of it. He lived through it. He suffered along with His family and friends because of it. Much like today, everything had turned upside down. They strayed from their laws. The unity of community had died. They again were under oppression. They were ripe for a Savior. They longed for God to send the Messiah and He did.