The gospel accounts of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John give us some information about Jesus’ childhood. We know about a handful of events, like the family’s escape from Egypt and return to Nazareth, His increasing wisdom and visit to the Temple in Jerusalem when He was 12, and obedience to His parents.
The authentic details of Jesus’ childhood are sparse, but we can learn much from the country and area of His youth: Galilee and Israel. Jerusalem emphasized the convoluted and intricate study of the Old Testament and the rabbi’s teachings, but Galilee’s distance from the city offered a somewhat milder approach that showed little respect for legalism. For this reason and dialect differences, the Galileans were often seen as unlearned.
We can assume that Jesus grew up in an atmosphere saturated with the words and teachings of the Old Testament. He likely attended a Jewish school by the time He was six since these were common even in rural areas. Beyond this, the content of His teachings and parables might suggest the everyday sights of His childhood: marriage parties in celebration, shepherds with their sheep, foxes in their lairs, widows looking for lost coins, tax collectors at the door, and the less fortunate in the street. The one aspect we can be sure of is that Jesus’ childhood fulfilled an essential part of His ministry. Though He was fully God, He grew up as any human does.
Did Jesus work miracles as a child?
If you’ve ever wondered if Jesus performed miracles as a young boy, an Islamic tradition related to Jesus’ childhood seems to confirm His miraculous display of power, even as a child. The Quran details Jesus as a miracle-working child who could create birds from clay, raising them from the dead. You may wonder where the Quran got this information about Jesus. It seems to come from a pseudepigraphical gospel called the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas.” This archaic text is accredited to an author named Thomas the Israelite, and it gives numerous stories related to Jesus’ miraculous childhood, detailing the years missing in the established Luke gospel.
The ”Infancy Gospel of Thomas” illustrates Jesus performing the miracles mentioned in the Quran with added malicious, sometimes mean-spirited mystic acts. This religious text was popular in North African Coptic Christian communities and would undoubtedly have been familiar to the writer of Surah 5. This is why the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” was likely the source of the material in the Quran. However, there are many reasons to deny this portrayal of Jesus’ childhood. The “Infancy Gospel” was written long after the gospels, and the author seems unfamiliar with Jewish life and customs of the first century.
The text also assumes the gospel of Luke and must, therefore, have been written after Luke’s text was well-known and distributed. The author depends on Luke for his information on Jesus’ life, the Passover and the Sabbath. It also seems that the early Church Fathers were aware of this late gospel but identified it as sinful. Irenaeus appears to reference it, including it in his life of unreliable non-canonical documents detailed in “Against Heresies.” Origen and Hippolytus also refer to the “Gospel of Thomas” in their lists of unorthodox books, though it’s unknown if they’re referring to the text or the “sayings” Gospel of Thomas.
Still, there’s an even better reason to reject the claims made in the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas:” They contradict the clear teachings of the reliable accounts of John and Luke. There’s enough reason to trust the historicity of the gospels, and these consistent accounts refute the claims of the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas.” In the fourth chapter of his gospel, Luke describes the residents of Nazareth responding in shock to Jesus’ first messianic teaching. They seemed unaware that Jesus could be anything more than a carpenter’s son. However, the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” describes Jesus as a talented child who performed several public miracles in Nazareth. Perhaps more importantly, John explicitly tells us that Jesus’ first public miracle occurred at the Cana wedding when He turned water into wine, as detailed in John 2:1-11. The Quran and “Infancy Gospel” claim that Jesus showed people the clear signs throughout His childhood, the eyewitness accounts describe something completely different.
What were the miracles of Jesus?
A miracle of God is an unnatural or extraordinary event that shows or confirms specific messages through a monumental work. Jesus performed plenty of miracles. All of the miracles He performed were to help others, glorify God, and prove that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. In Matthew 8, when He calmed the storm, the disciples were amazed and asked what kind of man Jesus was, noting that even the waves and winds obeyed Him. The gospels record most of the miracles that Jesus performed.
Of course, many things that Jesus did couldn’t have been recorded in such short works. John admits that Jesus performed miracles in front of His disciples that weren’t recorded in the book, adding that if every one of them were recorded, even the whole world wouldn’t have room for the books that would’ve been written. Different gospels typically recorded the same miracles, each giving slightly different details. Sometimes, it’s impossible to know if a specific miracle recorded in the gospels is one documented from different angles or if two separate miracles are being chronicled.
None of the gospel writers are concerned with strict chronology and sometimes don’t give all the details we may want to know.The miracles of Jesus are but are not limited to blind people receiving sight, lepers cleansed, demons cast out, the dead being raised to life, thousands of people being fed, Jesus walking on water and calming a storm, turning water into wine, filling nets with fish and so much more. Most of the miracles recorded in the gospels were healing miracles. While those who received the healing were relieved, the miracles’ purpose is rarely the alleviation of physical suffering.
The healing miracle always points to the more significant truth that Jesus is the Son of God with authority. The most reasonable inference from the ancient historical record related to Jesus is that He waited until His public ministry to share His power with His disciples and the world He came to save. Unfortunately, He didn’t perform miracles as a child.