In my post last Sunday morning, I blogged about Lee Strobel’s book defending “the Real Jesus.” With this topic fresh in my mind, as well as the Sunday School lesson which I’d prepared for that morning, when class began, during our conversation with the children before the lesson, one of them asked out of the blue where Jesus was between the time he was a kid and the time he began his public ministry. I could tell immediately where he was going. Naturally, he followed up by saying his dad had been watching the History Channel and heard that people say Jesus went to India for some time between the ages of 12 and thirty. In the providence of God, my lesson for the day was from Luke 2:39-52, the account of “The Boy Jesus in the Temple,” as the heading over this passage in the English Standard Version describes it.
I’m not terribly familiar with the claims regarding Jesus’ reputed trip to India, spread by those outside the realm of orthodox Christianity. However, having perused the search engine and scanned a few sites (like this one, for example) and Wikipedia articles (like the one on the gnostic Acts of Thomas and the theosophical Aquarian Gospel), I’ve hit upon the apparent basis for the theory that Jesus went to India as a boy. I’d probably already be more clued in about it if I didn’t avoid History Channel programs of this nature and other popular sources of info on the secularized revisionist research on the “historical Jesus.” But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My immediate response to my student was that there are a lot of people who like Jesus, but who don’t believe the Bible. Often, they are people or groups from other religions that associate Jesus with their beliefs in an attempt to lend credibility to them, or for some other reason. In the middle of giving this summary of where stories like that come from, a verse from my lesson came to mind. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover” (Luke 2:41). After I glanced at the passage for a minute, it became clear to me that even though the verse doesn’t say, “Now Jesus and his parents went . . . ” the context indicates that when his parents went to Jerusalem every year, so did Jesus.
It seems I’ve found a piece of New Testament evidence that would indicate that Jesus of Nazareth did not, in fact, ever go to India, or on any fanciful “magical mystery tour” of eastern religions between the ages of 12 and 30, as suggested by the Aquarian Gospel, but was with his parents every year when they went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.