(Author’s note: Seems like every year I get asked to reprint this lesson, so once again here it is.)
What is happening this coming week that should be very exciting for you all? Yes, that’s right; school is beginning. Are you happy to be going back and seeing your friends and learning new things? I know with COVID, things are a lot different and even a little scary, but school is a good thing! I pray that you are excited and for a good year for you all.
Did you ever wonder about when Jesus was growing up did He have to go to school? Well, I thought about that this past week and did some research on just that topic. Now the Bible never actually says that Jesus went to school, but scholars believe that He would have from the passages about Him being called Rabbi or Teacher and the customs of that time.
Jesus would have learned a lot from his parents. His mother Mary would have taught Him things at home, and His Father Joseph would have taught Him about being a carpenter like he was. But when Jesus was probably about six years old, like every other six-year-old Jewish boy, He would have gone to the local synagogue school called Bet Sefer. Only the boys went for five or six days a week. The teacher would teach his students the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy along with some other general basis education. On the first day of their school, the rabbi would give each boy a taste of honey and say, “May the words of God be sweet to your taste, sweeter than honey to your mouth.” from Psalm 119: 103.
From ages 10-14, Jewish boys learned the rest of the Jewish Scriptures all the way to Malachi. Do you remember when Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost, but they found Him in the Temple? Do you know how old He was then? He was twelve and was sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening and asking questions.
Around 14 to 15 years old, if you were interested, you could do advanced religious studies. You would go and seek a respected and knowledgeable Rabbi to study with like an apprentice almost. You would study with this Rabbi until you were 30 years old when you could become a Rabbi yourself. Do you know how old Jesus was when He started His ministry? He was 30 years old.
We know that Jesus also worked as a carpenter, possibly to help pay for His education. We aren’t sure. But in the New Testament, He is called Rabbi 13 times and teacher 41 times. (Rabbi means teacher.) So probably Jesus had to go to school at least some of the time just like you will be doing this week.
I hope you have a great year!
Let’s say a prayer together. Dear Jesus, bless all the children starting school this week. Be with them, their parents, their teachers, and school staff, so they have a wonderful year and learn what they need to know. We ask You to keep them safe and be kind to each other too. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is a retired pastor, formerly of the Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.