What would Jesus have been like as a child? What would it be like to raise him? To be his parent? To have a child simultaneously so completely childish, and yet full of Truth most of us could never imagine. I know my own children have an incredible ability to help me see and think in ways I never would, save for their insistent and sporadic imagination.
Take all of that, and you get some of the tastes of J.M. Coetzee’s recent book, “The Childhood of Jesus“. I picked it up, thinking it was actually about the childhood of Jesus. As I began reading, I realized it was about a boy named David. As I continued reading, I was surprised by all of the allegory and symbolism that pointed to the uniqueness and mystery wrapped up in the childish Jesus. His origins, his run-ins with authority, and his (and any childs’) ability to make the grown-ups in his life think about the “big picture”. I won’t give away much here….but it’s definitely worth a read. Here’s just a short excerpt of his parental figure trying to understand why David is having a hard time in school…
“Put an apple before him and what does he see? An apple: not one apple, just an apple. Put two apples before him. What does he see? An apple and an apple: not two apples, not the same apple twice, just an apple and an apple. Now along comes (someone else) and demands: How many apples, child? What is the answer? What are apples? What is the singular of which apples is the plural? Three men in a car heading for the East Blocks: who is the singular of which men is the plural – Eugenio or Simon or our friend the driver whose name I don’t know? Are we three, or are we one and one and one? ‘You throw up your hands in exasperation, and I can see why. One and one and one make three, you say, and I am bound to agree. Three men in a car: simple. But David won’t follow us. He won’t take the steps we take when we count: one step two step three. It is as if the numbers were islands floating in a great black sea of nothingness, and he were each time being asked to close his eyes and launch himself across the void. What if I fall? – that is what he asks himself. What if I fall and then keep falling for ever? Lying in bed in the middle of the night, I could sometimes swear that I too was falling – falling under the same spell that grips the boy. If getting from one to two is so hard, I asked myself, how shall I ever get from zero to one? From nowhere to somewhere: it seemed to demand a miracle each time.” – The Childhood of Jesus, J.M.Coetzee (page 248)
There are a few scenes you may want to censor or pre-read for younger audiences….definitely read it first before offering it to your child/young adult. But I think it’s a great book for capturing some of the wonder a boy like Jesus may have spread throughout the lives His intersected…
2 thoughts on “Childhood of Jesus”
I just started “Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus” by John Ortberg (another kindle special I could not pass up) It has an interesting slant on how Jesus had infiltrated almost every part of our culture whether people want to recognize it or not.
Sounds like a good book too! I love Ortberg. “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” launched me in a great direction back in 1999. 🙂