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Part of the reason we know little of Jesus' childhood has also to do with the eyewitness nature of the gospels. Chances are Jesus was not known to the original disciples until he met them in adulthood. Bartholomew was impressed that Jesus noticed him under the tree, which sounds like he may not have known Jesus prior. The gospels are valuable in that they are the writings of eye witnesses of Jesus ministry life. (Except for Luke who talked to eyewitnesses). They are also honest in that the writers portray themselves as bumbling unbelievers until after the Resurrection. The Bible is both a divinely authored book of books, but also an accurate eyewitness account of those who encountered God. We err when we consider the Bible as a sort of magical or spiritual book without remembering that the events actually happened. The beauty for me was when God pointed out to me that he still works in this way--this is biblical confirmation. God speaking to you and you can find a precedent in the Biblical record--and our lives are full of miracles and encounters with God. I regret that I missed a lot of what God was saying to me earlier in life and attributed most things to my own talents or luck. If we begin to read the Bible as though a friend of ours was simply relaying profound actual experiences, it takes on a new personal urgency and importance.
We are informed in Matthew 2:13-15 that Jesus spent most of His early childhood in Egypt. .... the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. We do not know the age of Jesus when Joseph and Mary returned to Israel other than He was aged 12 when the account of Him going to the temple is recorded in Luke 2:41-42 but even this account implies that Jesus along with Joseph and Mary had made the journey there before.
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