Jesus as a teenager?

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.jpg

 James Dean – the quintessential teen “rebel without a cause…”


Did you ever wonder when Jesus came up with the idea that He was Jesus.

Christ, by Heinrich Hofmann.jpgThat He was “special?”  That He was – literally – the Son of God?

That leads to even more questions:  Did Jesus  know the minute He was born that He was “the Son of God?”  Did He – even as a newborn child – have a fully formed adult personality?

Some time ago there was a bracelet trend, “WWJD?”  What would Jesus do?  Turning that question around –  “thinking outside the box” – the question could be put like this:

What would you do – with a fully formed adult personality, able to see and know all around you – yet you were trapped in the body of a baby?

And that in turn raises some more interesting questions.  Like:  What would you do if you could only communicate with those around you, with a smile, a frown, a gurgle or a belch?

To most of us, that would be a living nightmare.  It would be a nightmare to be trapped inside the body of an infant, but have a fully formed adult personality.

Yet many believe that’s just what Jesus went through, from the moment of birth on.

On the other hand, if that isn’t the case, when did Jesus find out?  The only rational alternative is that Jesus did not know who He was at that very minute He was born.  And if that is true, the question becomes:  “At what point in His life journey did Jesus find out?”

Sen. Howard Baker covering mike w. hand as unident. man whispers to Sen. Sam Ervin during Watergate hearings.In modern terms – borrowing a page from yesteryear – the question could be phrased, “What did Jesus know, and when did He know it?

If Jesus didn’t know – the minute He was born – that He was the Son of God, He had to find out later in His life.  And one interpretation of that theory came from the man who wrote Zorba the Greek

Nikos Kazantzakis also wrote The Last Temptation of Christ.  (In 1955.  It became the movie that caused such a stink when it was released in 1988.)  Anyway, in his novel, Kazantzakis theorized that at some point in His life, Jesus started “to hear voices:”

“I fasted for three months. I even whipped myself before I went to sleep. At first it worked. Then the pain came back. And the voices. They call me by the name: Jesus.”

So according to Kazantzakis, Jesus may not have known the minute He was born just how special He was.  He didn’t find out until some time later in His life.

*   *   *   *

Whatever the merits of such a contemplation, it seems pretty clear that throughout the first 30 years of His life, Jesus must have had a world of patience.  And in all likelihood, at no time was that more true than when He was a teenager.

Of course He did have that one chance when he was 12 years old, to impress the elders in Jerusalem.  (See Luke 2:41-50).  But except for that one or two days of “mountaintop experience,” it seems that Jesus still had to endure 30 long years of pure, mundane drudgery.

He had to live quietly and unobtrusively – for 30 long years – before starting His life’s work.  And He had to do this before the people around Him started getting the idea who He really was.  (It must have been something like spending all day in a county tag office, multiplied by 10,950.)

Which brings up another compelling question:  What was Jesus like as a teenager?  Suppose – just for the sake of argument – that by the time He was a teenager, Jesus did know that He was in fact the First-born Son of God.  For one thing, He could see into the future.  And He knew, absolutely knew, everything that ever was or ever had been.

So maybe as a teenager, Jesus did know everything there ever was to know, and everything possible that ever could be known.  Yet there He was, stuck in that backwater, hayseed town of Nazareth, far away from any possible excitement, like what He might find in Jerusalem.

And, probably the worst thing of all for Him was that He had to take orders from older people, people who He knew didn’t know a fraction of what He knew about “real life.”  Of course:

Since every teenager in the history of the world has felt exactly the same way, how could the people in Nazareth know this teenager was any different?

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of James Dean – Wikipedia.  The caption: “Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.”  The article noted, “Dean’s premature death … cemented his legendary status.”

The image of Jesus is courtesy of Jesus (name) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Christ by Heinrich Hofmann.”  The article noted that the name “Jesus” is a “rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע), also having the variants Joshua or Jeshua.”  

Re:  “What did Jesus know, and when did He know it?”  One of many phrases – like “Irangate” or “Benghazi-gate” – that can be traced back to the 1972 Watergate scandal.  The phase is credited to Senator Howard Baker, who famously asked, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”  The question was originally written by Senator Baker’s counsel and former campaign manager, future U.S. Senator [and Hollywood star], Fred Thompson.  (See,, and

The image to the right of the “when did He know it” paragraph is courtesy of 40 Years Since The Watergate Hearings | Getty Images.  Senator Baker is at left, covering the microphone.  Senator Sam Ervin is at the right of the photo, arms folded.

The image to the right of the “contemplation” paragraph is courtesy of that Wikipedia article.  The caption:  “Statue The Spirit of Contemplation by Albert Toft.”  

The lower image is courtesy of  And an ironic side note:  Harassed has one “r” and two “s’s.”

*   *   *   *

This post was gleaned from earlier posts in my other blog, On Jesus as a teenager, and On Jesus as a teenager – REDUX.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *