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« Creating Culture -- Christianly | Main | Getting Ready for the Feast: A Primer on Works (8 of 8) »

May 29, 2007

Did Jesus Play Tag?

Christthelordoutofegypt Like many who live in the DC Metro area, I have a long commute. So, I make the most of it. I eat my cereal in a mug for the first five minutes of my commute, call my mom, then pop in a book on tape. Currently on my tape deck—Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by former vampire series author Anne Rice.

I’ll admit I was skeptical, and the first chapter began to confirm my initial suspicions. The book opens with 7-year-old Jesus accidentally killing the neighborhood bully, only to bring him back to life minutes later. And, then big brother James tells Jesus never to do that again, just as He shouldn’t make real birds out of clay pigeons.

But I gave it a few more minutes, and the miles started to spin past as I began to consider the mystery of the incarnation.

Rice’s Boy Jesus may be a little more polished than we’d expect of a typical 7-year-old, but that’s where she really got me thinking. What was kid Jesus really like? Let’s face it—the Gospels don’t give us too much. We know that Boy Jesus was 1) wise (He astounded men in the synagogue when he was just 12) 2) obedient (He returned home with Joseph and Mary) 3) developing (He grew in wisdom, stature, and favor). But, be honest, you’d like to know so much more. I would. What was His favorite childhood game? Tag? Charades? Did He ever tell jokes? Did He make believe? Did He eat his broccoli (or, should I say, fig leaves)? Did He always know He was the Son of God or did He find out at a designated place and time? We’ll never know for sure (at least as long as we’re mortal), but Rice takes a stab at it.

Her Boy Jesus is clever—so smart in fact, that the highly-respected Philo of Alexandria wants to raise Him as his own prodigy. He is perceptive—He understands the nuances of adult interactions. He is powerful—He prays the rain to stop, and it does.

And, He’s curious.

When He asks Joseph to explain “what happened in Bethlehem,” all He gets is a reprimand “never to ask those questions again.” But, why can He make the rain come and go, and why does nobody ever speak about the angel that visited Mary before He was born? But, somehow, deep inside, He understands, His humanity wrestling fiercely with His deity. Jesus uncovers and begins to understand who He really is in spurts of epiphany, and, for a moment, everything makes sense. Then, as quickly as it comes, it’s gone.

Rice takes a few more liberties, portraying Mary as an eternal virgin, giving Jesus an older brother, and narrating a dream-like interaction between Boy Jesus and Satan. But, this occult-writer turned faith-seeker makes a point—Jesus’ incarnation is something worth pondering. After all, He was the great High Priest who was able to sympathize with our weaknesses.

So, I'd like to know, what have you always wondered about Child Jesus?

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Comments

Jason Bruce

I would like to think Jesus as playful, friendly, gentle and obedient child. Its also nice to imagine he performed little miracles to comfort the hurting. But one thing is for sure, his childhood prepared him for his adult ministry. I hope as a parent I will also raise my children in strength and wisdom to follow God's higher purpose among anything else.

Brian

Thanks for the heads up! It sounds interesting, I'm going to add it to my reading list.

Stacey

I always wondered if His family fussed over Him a lot...like when He scraped His knee or hurt Himself. My goodness, if an angel told me I was having the Son of God and I did, I think I might have stuck Him in a padded room, or atleast had the constant urge to if I knew I couldn't!

labrialumn

Doesn't it say that Jesus performed His first miracle when He turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of the Galilee?

Rice is drawing on some of the gnostic texts that imagine Jesus' childhood. The specific miracles you mentioned are to be found in them.

We only know what the Bible tells us, that He is without sin, amazed the elders at or just after His bar-mitzva, with His knowledge, and so on. He obviously knew who He was when He was 12 - His answer to Mary and Joseph makes that clear.

Rice isn't a seeker, she has become a Roman Catholic Believer. Her treatment of Mary as ever-virgin and James as an older brother by a previous marriage of Joseph come from that tradition. She isn't making it up, but taking it from another teaching source which she regards as truth.

Lee

It seems to me that the real question is "Was Jesus 100% human, or 100% divine?" If you tilt one way or the other, the question of what boy Jesus was like then becomes easy to answer. A 100% human Jesus would be playful, etc. A 100% divine Jesus would routinely do miracles. The Gospel accounts of the adult life of Jesus show us a mixture, as if he was 100% human and 100% divine simultaneously, so it's reasonable to assume that his childhood was the same - and every bit as perplexing to his contemporaries as well as to us.

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