The majority of Jesus’ life is not recorded in the Scriptures. We have the record of His birth and then a few glimpses into His childhood, but besides that, Scripture is silent until He started His public ministry at the age of 30. These are what many have called “the silent years”. As I have spent time in the Gospels looking at Jesus’ life I have always found myself drawn to this period of His life before public ministry. I believe these silent years are a treasury of revelation for the hungry heart. Jesus was & always will be the Word of God (John 1:1). That means every event in the life of Jesus shows us what God is like, including the years that aren’t recorded in Scripture. The loud silence heard in these years serves as a doorway into fellowship with Him that is foundational to seeing Him rightly in the rest of the gospels.
So what happened during those years? Of course we can never know in detail or go beyond the boundaries of Scripture but various facets of His family life, the customs of Galilee, the geography of Nazareth, and the religious culture of the Jewish people collectively paint for us an informative picture of what Jesus’ days might have been like. The beauty of these years is in their normality. For 30 years of His life Jesus lived like any other Man in Galilee at the time. The Son of God who created the world was now hardly recognized or payed attention to. We know from Mark 6:3 that Jesus was a carpenter and that He had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters. It’s also likely that sometime during this time Jesus’ father Joseph died. Joseph isn’t seen anywhere in the Gospels after the event in the Temple when Jesus was a 12yr old boy & if he was still alive at Jesus’ death its unlikely Jesus would have committed His mother to John the beloved. If that were the case Jesus would have the responsibility of taking care of His family. What was it like as the One we worship and pray to lived, ate, work, walked, talked, laughed, prayed, and cried?
Jesus’ humility is seen so beautifully when we meditate upon Him during those years. Leonard Sheldrake, in his book “Our Lord Jesus Christ” says:
“There was a renown all His own in those tender years because He was content to be lowly and silent without renown in the world His hands had fashioned. It was a matter of new renown to Him that He who had been so honored and renowned in glory, should be altogether without renown within this cold, barren world. Lovely lowliness was never so altogether lovely as when in the person of the King of kings He was a carpenter in Nazareth. He whose glory had flooded the heavens walked unknown on the lanes of a despised village in Galilee. He who had sat on the throne of God sat now on a rude bench in a cottage of the poorest of the people.
He whose hand had arranged the stars in the firmament worked hard with saw and hammer to provide that coarse and scanty livelihood that fed the hungry mouths of the laboring poor. He in whom God found all His delight was never once recognized or known by those nearest to Him, His kinsman according to the flesh. His hidden years are hidden manna for those who can rise to appreciate the perfect submission and lowliness of Christ our LORD in Nazareth.”
These years war against our pride & selfish ambitions. If we truly are called to be like our Master then we too should be content to live in obscurity and be faithful with the small things that God has entrusted to us. He lived before His Father’s eyes alone. He was overlooked, misunderstood, and even looked down upon as an illegitimate child (because of the virgin birth). Yet not once during Jesus’ life did He get frustrated because someone wasn’t honoring Him or respecting Him. The majority of His life, people had no idea He was God in the flesh. And so He passed from one stage of His life to the next – childhood, boyhood, youth, and manhood.
We must learn to fellowship with Jesus here. This will bring significance to every aspect of our lives. When we are washing dishes we can fellowship with Jesus, remembering Him in the carpentry shop chopping wood. When we simply love our family day by day we can encounter Jesus who took care of His mother & siblings. When we sit down to eat a meal, we fix our mind upon Jesus who also sat down to a humble meal in their small home in Nazareth. The silent years of Jesus make the most common things meaningful & holy.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…” -Phil 2:5-9
We don’t have to fight for our honor or reputation. The One who deserved to have the adoration of everyone made Himself of no reputation. We don’t have to get offended when we’re mistreated. Our LORD was the most mistreated & misunderstood Person to ever walk the earth. He was made like us in all things, except without sin. We’re called to follow in His footsteps and to be faithful with what God has given us. It’s not the amount that we’re faithful with, that God rewards. It’s the quality of love and meekness we do it in. Before Jesus ever stepped onto the public stage of ministry, before He ever did one sign or wonder, the Father’s voice declared from heaven. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God’s definition of success is much different than ours.