I wonder what Jesus made of the stories his family told him about what happened when He was born.
I love to think of Him growing up, His human self discovering what it meant to be completely God inside. His divine nature discovering what it feels like to grow up inside the world He had created.
I don’t think that Jesus was born with a grown up understanding of Himself and His Mission. He must have learnt it, figured it all out from the clues His Father left Him and from His relationship with His Father God. He would also have had the Old Testament, of course, and as a Jewish boy He would have memorised much of this.
Take the shepherds who were at His birth. Shepherds would suggest the famous shepherd of Psalm 23, the LORD is my Shepherd, which was written by King David, the most famous Jewish King, who established the Kingdom of Israel and who started off life as a shepherd. David was a shepherd who defended his sheep from lions and bears using his skills with the slingshot, so not a passive yokel chewing a blade of grass. Jesus’ imagery of Himself as the Good Shepherd Who has a Kingdom to establish perhaps came from these ideas.
Or what about the wise men who followed a star? Their gifts of gold for kingship, frankincense for deity and myrrh for suffering are well discussed elsewhere and would have given Him plenty of food for thought about His destiny. I can’t think of a place where anyone following a star is mentioned in the Old Testament, though I’m willing to be proved wrong, but signs in the heavens above and signs on the earth below are mentioned in Joel, you will recall.
What of the angels? To Joseph (twice), Mary, His uncle Zechariah and the shepherds. Five mentions (five is the number of grace in the Bible) of angels suggest that something very special is about to happen. Angels comes from a word which means simply ‘messenger’, and these angels brought messages including His Name, His Purpose (to save His people from their sins) and other information which Jesus would have learnt about from His family.
Then Bethlehem means the House of Bread – the Bread which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world – did Jesus get that idea from the name of the place where He was born, as well as from the story of the ‘manna’ in the wilderness?
I do wonder whether Mary ever told her Son she was a virgin before He was born! Maybe she did, when He was old enough to understand. The consequences of being a fatherless child and the impact of His Adoption by His earthly father Joseph would have surely had an impact on His thinking if so. Joseph’s adoption of the earthly baby Jesus sort of mirrors God’s heavenly adoption of us through Jesus, doesn’t it?
Of course, I am only speculating on what Jesus thought about His Father and His Mission from His birth stories. But if we pack away Christmas for another year and divorce its messages from the adult Jesus, perhaps we miss something.
Please feel free to add your thoughts.