What do you remember about your childhood? Times of sickness? Birthday parties? Bee stings? Toothaches? Your first day at school? Your first prayers at the mosque? Games of pretend? Tag? Hide and seek? Childhood holds many memories.
Our personalities began to form when we were children. Perhaps that is why a prophet's followers cherish stories about the prophet's childhood. Stories of Jesus' childhood were widespread among his followers.
One particular story is mentioned in various ancient Christian writings and in the Qur'an. There are various versions, but these are the main points of the story:
The boy Jesus was playing with other children in the muddy streets. The children were molding animal figures from the drying mud. Jesus took a lump of mud and formed a bird. Instead of putting his sculpture in the hot sun to dry and harden, Jesus breathed into it. It became a living bird and flew up into the air. Naturally, the other children were delighted.
According to Sura 3:49, when Jesus was an adult, he referred to this miracle as a Sign to people from God.
The gospel writers did not include this story in their writings and it is not found in the Bible, which is my authority in matters of faith.
The Bible does contain another story about Jesus as a twelve-year old boy. According to Luke, Jesus' mother Mary, her husband Joseph, and Jesus went to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem.
"They went up to the feast, according to the custom. After the feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.' Why were you searching for me?' he asked. Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?' But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:42b-52)
We learn from this story that even as a boy Jesus knew a great deal about God. He felt the temple was his "home" and he called God his "father." Even as a boy, Jesus was thinking deeply about life, God and his responsibility to God.
These stories help us understand that Jesus was a unique, very special boy with exceptional knowledge about spiritual truth.
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