The Lost Years of Jesus

Is there something being kept from us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This morning, I heard Allie listening to a video talking about mysteries of the Bible. Fortunately, she knows that the majority of these claims are just dumb. One similar video she stopped watching early because the content was so poorly researched. In this video I speak of, there was talk about the lost years of Jesus as if this was a Bible mystery.

There are a lot of people who think this. After all, this is the Son of God. Should we not have an exhaustive record of every aspect of His life? Why is it that those years aren’t mentioned? As soon as we say that, well here come the conspiracy theories about a cover-up.

We’ve heard them. This is the kind of stuff you see in The Da Vinci Code. These are the ideas that Jesus went to India and studied under the gurus. They’re not too new. Celsus and some Jewish sources both said that Jesus was a sorcerer with Celsus specifically saying that Jesus learned to do magic in Egypt. (Interestingly, they do not deny that He did miracles.)

So what happened? Did Jesus grow up in Egypt and learn how to do sorcery? Did He travel to India and come back after having studied with the religious leaders there?

Or could it be that the answer is a lot simpler?

If we want to speak of Jesus having lost years, we could speak of any other person having lost years that we know of. Most ancient biographers weren’t interested in the childhood of the person. You didn’t see a lot said about what they did when they were growing up.

“Wait a second here! That’s not true! There are many biographies in antiquity where you can see some of what the person was like growing up. The writer will include a scene from their childhood! Luke even does this! Remember Jesus in the temple at the age of twelve?”

Indeed.

Sometimes, the writer shows a brief glimpse of something, but what is he showing? He’s showing someone and saying “Even as a child, he had the character that he had as an adult.” It’s not a way of answering questions about childhood, but an example to exemplify the character of the man, which is what was of great interest.

Of course, if one accepts Luke here, then we have a quote from Luke that really answers the question of Jesus’s lost years. It’s in fact what we would call a throw-away comment. It’s not made to argue a particular point and if it was, it’s not a point that would really want to be argued for. This happens in Luke 4:16.

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,”

Jesus was brought up in Nazareth and it was His custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. This is not something that would be made up. Nazareth was a tiny little village and not a place of honor the Messiah would come from. It would be quite shameful to say the Messiah was from a place like Nazareth.

The point of Jesus being brought up there is not argued for. The passage indicates Jesus didn’t do independent traveling until His own ministry had begun. The people all knew Him. No one said “Is this not Jesus who traveled to India and studied under the gurus?” or “Is this not Jesus who traveled to Egypt and learned from the sorcerers?”

No. This is Jesus. Jesus was a boy who grew up among them and they thought He was an ordinary boy.

Lost years are just another excuse for people to get caught up in conspiracies thinking they’ve uncovered hidden knowledge that others don’t know about. Historians don’t really take these claims seriously. They are wise to do so. They might be popular on the internet where most readers have done little investigation into these claims, but they don’t tend to attract those who have studied.

In Christ,
Nick Peters