“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:18 NRSV
Only the Beginning
The Three Wise Men may have come a long way from the East to see Jesus, but Jesus himself was starting his long pilgrimage, which was his life, death, and resurrection.
Jesus was born to Mary, who was Jewish, and Joseph. His family went on a pilgrimage even before he was born. In Luke 1:31–38, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will help her have and give birth to a child named Jesus. When Mary is about to give birth, she and Joseph leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem, where Joseph’s family is from, to complete the census Caesar Augustus ordered. Mary gave birth to Jesus there, but because there was no room at the inn, she put him in a manger (Luke 2:1–7). Some shepherds hear about Jesus’ birth from an angel. They go to Bethlehem to see him and then spread the news elsewhere (Luke 2:8–20). They go back to Nazareth after Jesus is shown off at the Temple.
The Journey of the Baby
In Matthew 2:1–12, the wise men or Magi from the East bring gifts to the young Jesus as the King of the Jews. In Matthew, we read of another long journey. The Magi also called “wise men,” come from the East to bring gifts to the young Jesus, who they believe to be the King of the Jews. Matthew tells us about another long trip that Jesus and his family took. Herod the Great hears that Jesus was born, and because he wants Jesus killed, he gives the order to kill all male babies under two years old in Bethlehem. But in Joseph’s second dream, an angel warns him, so the family runs away to Egypt. They later come back and settle in Nazareth.
Jesus’ Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
Jesus went to Jerusalem at least twice when he was young, probably during one of the three Jewish Pilgrimage Feasts we discussed in previous chapters. According to Jewish law, when Jesus is brought to the Temple as a baby a man named Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus is the Messiah “will be a sign of contradiction, but a sword will cut through your soul. Then many people’s hidden thoughts will be revealed.”
A few years later, when Jesus goes missing during a trip to Jerusalem, his parents find him in the Temple, sitting with the teachers and asking them questions. The people are amazed at how much he understands and how well he answers them. Mary scolds Jesus for going missing, but Jesus tells her that he had to be in the temple, “be in the house of his father.” taken by Jesus and his family. Herod the Great hears of Jesus’ birth and, wanting him killed, orders the murders of male infants in Bethlehem under the age of two. But an angel warns Joseph in his second dream, and the family flees to Egypt—later to return and settle in Nazareth.
Presenting Jesus in the Temple
Jesus went to Jerusalem at least twice during his childhood, probably during one of the three Jewish Pilgrimage Feasts. When Jesus is presented as a baby in the Temple per Jewish Law. Simeon says to Mary and Joseph that Jesus “shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your soul. Then the secret thoughts of many will come to light.”
Several years later, when Jesus goes missing on a visit to Jerusalem, his parents find him in the Temple sitting among the teachers. He was listening to them and asking questions, and the people are amazed at his understanding and answers; Mary scolds Jesus for going missing, to which Jesus replies that he must “be in his father’s house.”
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