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"Sir, we wish to see Jesus" John 12:21

Little is known of Jesus’ childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. After the details of Jesus’ birth given in the Gospels of Luke and Mathew, only Luke relates a story of his youth. He reports that every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus went with them. But when he was twelve, the age for Bar Mitzvah, something unusual happened. His parents started home without realizing he was not in their company. Returning to Jerusalem they found him discoursing with the teachers in the Temple. The teachers were amazed at his understanding. His parents insisted he come home with them. He did but chided them saying, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.”

It was not unknown for Jews to refer to God as the Father, but it was characteristic for Jesus to refer to God almost exclusively that way. The prayer he taught his disciples which has become the quintessential prayer for believers, demonstrates the point. When you pray he said say, “Our Father who art in heaven…” In his speech and in his actions Jesus intimated an intimacy and familiarity with Yahweh God that was unusual to say the least, and some authorities considered it blasphemous. John writing in the prologue of his Gospel says of Jesus, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John had been at table next to Jesus on the evening before his crucifixion and had heard Jesus speak of such a resemblance to the Father that those who had seen him had also seen the Father. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me,” he declared.

How this could be so was explicated by an event that occurred at the outset of Jesus’ public ministry when he was about thirty years of age. All four Gospels record that he went to be baptized by his cousin John who was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Ritual immersion for purification is a common practice in Judaism since the Torah requires it for various occasions. John was baptizing in anticipation of the coming reign of God. He was preparing people for that. What was unusual about Jesus’ baptism is that when he came up out of the waters the heavens opened, the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and remained upon him, and a voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, the Beloved.” Thus the Father spoke and affirmed Jesus as his Son. As the Son he shared the very same Spirit as the Father.  

(Painting by Bartolo Di Fredi)       


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