This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passage: Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Have you ever wondered what it was like for Jesus to grow up in Mary and Joseph’s home? I have.
As a toddler, I think that Jesus must have fallen in the wood shavings in Joseph’s carpentry shop. I imagine Jesus’ toddling around Joseph’s legs, losing his balance, and plopping down on his bottom right in the middle of a pile of sawdust. I imagine Joseph chuckling to Jesus as he brushed the wood shaving from his toddler garments.
I imagine Jesus’ eyes filled with wonder the day a farmer brought a pair of oxen by the shop for a yoke fitting. Joseph looked at Jesus and said, “Ox, son, say ox.”
Toddler Jesus babbled, “Ox” in the most ordinary way. Joseph glowed with pride. He looked at the farmer and questioned, “Now, what can I do for you today?”
Jesus grew up in the middle of tool handles, furniture, kitchen utensils, and ox yokes. Anything that could be made with wood was the specialty of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth. As soon as Jesus could hold a broom with both hands, Joseph put him to work sweeping and cleaning the shop. By the time Jesus was 7 or 8 years old, I imagine that Joseph was coaching him in the carpentry trade, explaining every move he made in the shop.
I imagine that the boy Jesus held aloft an early project, proclaiming, “Look, Father, I just finished it!” By the time he was a teen, Jesus was working daily with Joseph in the shop, preparing for the day when he would become the sole proprietor. That day came. Some time in his first 30 years of life, Jesus lost his earthly father.
At the end of a day of following Joseph about the carpenter shop, the boy Jesus was exhausted. I imagine that Mary had some tender moments with her son nightly. Story time was certainly a favorite.
“Mommy, tell me the story about the shepherds.”
“Tell me the story about the wise men. Tell me how you used their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
“How did you find out that you were going to have me as your baby? Did the angel frighten you?”
“Tell me about cousin Elizabeth and cousin John. Did he really jump in her belly?”
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
The secrets surrounding Jesus’ conception, birth, and early years were special treasures that I imagine she confided in her son at age-appropriate points throughout his childhood. Mary told Jesus stories of purpose, destiny, and how his life must be a fulfillment of the Father’s will. I imagine that Mary always closed story time by reminding him to love and serve his Heavenly Father.
Mary and Joseph knew that this child they were raising was the Messiah of God. I am certain that Mary looked Joseph with parental wonder questioning, “How do we raise the Son of God?”
I imagine that Joseph leveled a tender, yet earnest gaze at his young wife and responded, “As our own.”
Oh, the stories Jesus heard.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NKJV).