Chapter 2 - Jesus Had a Bar Mitzvah


In the church growing up I never really thought about Yeshua being a Jew. Yes, I knew He was a part of Israel, but really never gave his culture/race much consideration. In fact, He seemed to look more like a Pastor to me. Until I started “journeying” back to the Torah.

Truth is Yeshua was born a Jew. His parents were Jews, and the beginning of Gospels of Matthew and Luke we see a genealogy that traces His heritage back to the tribe of Judah (one of the twelve tribes). That is why He is sometimes referred to as the “Lion of Judah.” When someone is from the tribe of Judah we call him/her a “Jew”. To become talmidim of a Jewish Rabbi, we must understand what it means to be a part of Judaism. If we are to “look” like our Rabbi, we may definitely begin to “look” Jewish.

Yeshua was circumcised

Eight days after Yeshua was born, his parents followed the Law and took Him to the Temple to be circumcised. Luke 2:21 describes this, “And when eight days were completed, for the circumcision of the Child, His Name was called Yeshua, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” This was in accordance with this Commandment in Leviticus 12:3 “And on the eighth day the flesh of his (baby) shall be circumcised.” Mary and Joseph obeyed the Torah.

And again, Yeshua’s parents early on follow another prescribed Commandment – that of dedicating your firstborn to HaShem. We read about it in Luke 2:22 “Now when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to Yehovah, (as it is written in the Law of Yahweh, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to Yahweh)…”. This Law is written in Exodus 13:2.

You see even in the first year of Yeshua’s life He is following the Torah through the obedient actions of His parents. There was no other way to be. To do otherwise, would have been disobedience or sin. And we know He was sinless!

Yeshua grows up and the next we hear of Him is at age twelve. In modern times a “Bar Mitzvah” is celebrated when a young Jewish man becomes age thirteen. Bar Mitzvah means “son of the Commandment”. It is a time where a young child becomes a man. And as a man he is expected to now follow the Torah to its fullest. By time many Jewish boys have memorized the Torah – the first five books of the Bible. Really! Maybe in the time of Yeshua, this age was twelve, no one knows for sure. What we do know is His family takes Him to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pesach (Passover).

The story goes like this, “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned the Boy Yeshua lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it.” Luke 2:43. Yes, it was required to go to the Temple for the Feast of Pesach, again His parents are following Torah. But, what is so interesting about this account is that Yeshua is twelve years old. The time when He would be formally recognized as a “man”.

This would make sense because as the story continues we read, “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Luke 2:46-47. Yeshua was sitting among the Rabbis, discussing the Torah and they were amazed at His knowledge! He was now to be looked upon as a man, and if they had bar mitzvah ceremonies in the early first century, I am guessing that Yeshua had already had his!

Think about it. Yeshua, a young Jewish man, hanging out with the learned and well respected teachers in the Temple. Of course! He may have been clothed with an earthly “body” but in all reality He knew the Torah, because He is the Torah (remember John 1). And this verse, the only that describes His life during this season – confirms His dedication to learning and sharing the Law.

Attending the Temple

This young Jewish man grows up to be a Jewish Rabbi. My thought is He probably “hung out” in the Temple as much as He could. After all it is His “Father’s House”. Interestingly enough He does not become a formal Rabbi until approximately thirty years of age. I wonder if He had a Rabbi on earth that He studied under. Some say He studied in the house of Rabbi Hillel – a famous Rabbi that lived and died before Yeshua came to earth.

The point is He grew up a Jew. His parents followed the Law and so did He, of course. Now, if we are to follow Him and become His talmidim – shouldn’t we be doing what He was doing?

Special Nugget:

One of Hillel’s recorded key teachings in the Talmud was this:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is explanation; go and learn.”

One of Yeshua’s recorded key teachings in the Apostolic Writings was this:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12