Contemplation regarding the circumstances when Jesus shall Return, have resulted in some interesting new ideas. They seem like they deserve serious consideration.
When Jesus Returns to us, it will certainly be a Glorious day! It is interesting to speculate on the circumstances of His Return. It would seem that there are only two logical possibilities. He might make a Triumphant entrance on His Return, directly from Heaven. Or, He may use human form, as He did when He was first with us two thousand years ago. This second possibility seems the most likely to me, both because He has already done it that way, and because a "grand" entrance doesn't seem like it would be His style.
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Keep in mind that there are at least six Scriptures that seem to clearly indicate that the TIME of His Return was very soon (Philip 4:5; Heb 10:37; James 5:8; Rev 3:11; 22:7; 22:20). So far, nearly 2,000 years later, that "soon" Return has not yet happened. I take this to indicate that we really have very little absolute Scriptural guidance on this subject. This is why I have chosen to explore the "quieter" possible way of His Return.
Assuming the human-form method will be used, that means that some woman, somewhere on Earth, will again have a Virgin Birth. The new child will then need to progress through infancy, childhood and young adulthood, before announcing Himself when the appropriate time has come.
There would be a tremendous problem in this. Our world is filled with many thousands of reporters, looking for any story that might make them famous. There are even far more people who believe that they might profit financially by being an eyewitness to any events in the life of this new baby. As a consequence, almost immediately after His Birth (and possibly before), His family would be inundated by tens of thousands of news crews. There is NO possibility that the Child could have anything even vaguely similar to a normal life. I have written a companion essay, When Jesus Returns which discusses these matters in greater thoroughness.
These matters caused further reflection, regarding the circumstances of the Childhood of Jesus when He was here before. Matthew 2:3 tells us of King Herod's concern over learning about the Birth of Jesus. Matthew 2:13 tells us of Joseph's dream where he was told he should immediately take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, with the reason given that Herod would try to destroy the Child. Matthew 2:19-20 tells us of another dream of Joseph's that told him that the ones that sought the Child's life are dead and that he should take his family back to Israel.
It appears that Joseph was given very little evidence regarding a Divine Nature of his son, but just that there was mortal danger.
After this episode, we only hear of Joseph once more in the Bible. When Jesus was twelve years old, Luke 2:42-51, tells us of the family trip to Jerusalem for the annual feast. Joseph is never mentioned again in the Bible. Many scholars believe that he died prior to Jesus' public Ministry, because of the lack of reference to Joseph in Scriptures such as John 2:12. But, John 6:42 seems to imply that Joseph was still living during Jesus' public Ministry.
In any event, it seems clear that Joseph did not materially participate in Jesus' public Ministry.
References to Mary are nearly identical. After the Conception/Nativity episode, it is implied that she traveled to Egypt as part of the family, and she was certainly present on that trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. After that, she is only mentioned twice. Once is where she is noted as being present at the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:56). The other is where she later prayed with the others (Acts 1:14).
These seem to imply that she was present during Jesus' public Ministry, and that she lived in the general area, but it does not seem likely that she materially participated in His public Ministry.
This would appear to leave His Childhood, as the period where Mary and Joseph would have taught Him to be a proper Prophet and Savior. However, that apparently did not happen.
Luke 2:43 tells us that, after the feast in Jerusalem, they left for home, not noticing that Jesus was not with them. When they returned to Jerusalem, after three days, they found Him in the Temple (Luke 2:46). Then comes the interesting part: Luke 2:48-50 makes it clear that Joseph and Mary did not comprehend His true Destiny.
Luke 2:48-50 makes it clear that Joseph and Mary had not really realized what a Special Child they had. Other than having an extremely unusual Conception and hearing the Wise Men and a few others make praiseworthy remarks about the Child in the first few days of His life, it is clear that they never thought of Him as anything more than their First-born male Child.
And this was probably extremely important! If they have ever given any indication to anyone else that He was Special, the many Jews who had been waiting for the Messiah would have immediately and continuously been around Him, denying Him any semblance of a normal Childhood. If, at any point in His Childhood, either Joseph or Mary had called Him "Lord" in public, it would have been a disaster.
The only way Jesus would have been able to have a non-famous Childhood and early Adulthood, would have been if no one was really aware of His unique Destiny, until He began His public Ministry. Before His Ministry, if He were known to be the Messiah, His carpentry creations would have immediately become icons that would have been (improperly) worshipped.
These observations seem to make a case for the situation where Mary and Joseph appear to have never been aware of Jesus' Divine Nature during His Childhood, and that they did not later participate in His Ministry. This seems like an unavoidable conclusion, since, if they had actually known His Special Destiny when He was twelve, then they would have understood His response in Luke 2:49. But Luke 2:50 clearly expresses that they did NOT understand.
These conclusions also seem almost necessary in order for Him to avoid the frenzy of followers that would certainly have dogged Him continuously otherwise. However, if these conclusions have validity, it seems to bring into question the idea of considering Joseph a Saint, and possibly minimizing the extreme importance Mary has in Churches such as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
It is commonly thought that Mary may have been around 17 years old when she got pregnant with Jesus, and that Joseph was probably in his early 30s. Now consider their ages at the time when Jesus began His public Ministry at around age 30. Joseph would have been around 65 years old, which easily implies that he may have died of natural causes many years earlier! Even Mary would have been around 47 years old. We know from the Bible that she was still alive but probably in seriously reduced physical condition.
These observations seem to explain why Joseph was never mentioned after Jesus was twelve years old in the Temple (in Luke 2), because it is likely that he may have soon died after that and well before Jesus' public Ministry began. And they seem to explain why Mary was rarely mentioned after that time, and that she did not appear to have participated at all in Jesus' public Ministry. She would have been an extremely old woman at the time!
C Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church