Not much is known about the life of Jesus between the ages of thirteen and thirty. This author definitely concludes, along with some other historians, that Jesus went to the East, spent some time in India, learned spiritual practices, mastered the art of healing, exorcism, and possibly leaving the body. Records indicate that he traveled from North to South during this period. The circumstances of his father Joseph's death are unknown, but it is generally believed that he died before Jesus began his ministry.
When he was about thirty years old, Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. We are told in Luke, Chapter 1, that John was the cousin of Jesus, born six months before him.
Jesus was Jewish by birth and he died as a Jew. But he was disappointed with the existing religious structures of his time. He knew that the people were hungry for a full spiritual life, that rituals alone were not enough.
There is controversy among scholars as to whether Jesus was circumcised (7), although Luke 2:21 says, "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS..." In any case, he did not seem to be in favor of the practice. The Gospel of Thomas relates the teaching this way:
His disciple asked him, "Circumcision - is there any real point to it or not?" He answered, "If it was really important, your Heavenly Father would have seen to it that you came into the world already circumcised from your mother's womb. But certainly, circumcision in spirit may well be of great importance."
After the baptism, Jesus went into the Judean wilderness for forty days. He fasted, prayed, and meditated in solitude. He was tempted by Satan but survived.
Before his imprisonment, John The Baptist told his disciples that Jesus was the Son of God, and some of them became followers of Jesus (John 1:36-37).
When Jesus reappeared in the Land of Israel, at the age of thirty, he went to preach in the synagogue at Nazareth, but was poorly received because he was known to be the son of Joseph, a carpenter. But the common people accepted his ministry gladly. They believed in him.
He performed miracles which made his disciples aware of his glory and power: turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana; knowing the accurate account of a Samaritan woman's personal life in Sychar; healing the leper; walking on the water of Lake Galilee; raising of Lazarus from death in Bethany; exorcising seven demons from Mary Magdalene; instantly healing the right ear of the servant of the high priest, which Peter had cut off while protecting his Master; and many more. He never exploited his powers for his own benefit.
All of these activities, especially the Lazarus event, made the Sanhedrin (the supreme legal, political, and religious organization of the Jewish people in Roman Palestine) nervous. They held an emergency meeting under the leadership of the high priest, Caiaphas. The decision rendered by the Sanhedrin was, "It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and the whole nation perish not." (John 11:50)
"Jesus the person is covered by a veil of mystery and secrecy. An obscuring cloud hangs over the events of his personal life, leaving all too much scope for speculation." (7)
As stated before, during the missing years of Jesus, he achieved many ascetic attainments (Siddhis), perhaps including the art of leaving his own body, and again entering his own body or the body of another (Parak‚y‚ Pravesha). This practice was known during Shankar‚c‚rya's period, circa 750 A.D. (SKYwriting, January-June 1999, No.25)
He performed exorcisms, and he practiced the art of Shaktip‚ta, energy transference. (Mark 5:30-34)
As previously noted, after the baptism, Jesus fasted, prayed and meditated in the Judean wilderness for forty days. Since the Bible describes that he was afterward hungered, and tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, we may surmise that it was a water fast.
Some historians refer to Jesus as the leader of the Nazarenes, who were devoted to the service of God, and were observers and preservers of certain sacred rites. Study of the Essene writings have led some to believe that Jesus lived for a time in Khirbet Qumran, where he would have followed the extensive Essene practices.
Jesus chose twelve disciples: Peter, John, Philip, Simon, Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, Jude, James the Greater, James the Younger, Mathew, Judas (who was afterward replaced by Mathias). These are also called the Apostles, the messengers of his ministry. His disciples went from town to town, and were taken care of by the people. The choice of twelve disciples indicates the hope for the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus was a traveling teacher, preacher, and healer whose central theme was the coming of the Kingdom of God. He taught by parables, mostly in informal settings. He did not baptize (although his disciples did). He was a friend of the poor and the rich. He preferred teaching to healing. He taught in Aramaic, the common language of the lower classes, although he did know Hebrew and Greek. He had no higher education or rabbinic training (3).
Jesus included women in his group. He traveled with them, and was willing to teach them. The women stood by him, supporting him in every way, including financially. They were with him even at the cross, while all the male disciples fled, except John.
The Sermon on the Mount has a prominent role in Christian theology. Many scholars believe that it is a collection of sayings delivered on several occasions (4). Some of those sayings are:
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Ye have heard that it has been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Jesus declared that God is like a loving Father. God is love.
Caiaphas, the high priest; Annas, his father-in-law; Herod Antipas, executor of John the Baptist; Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor; Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus; and Jesus, himself - all were responsible for the crucifixion. The rationales for his execution include: the charge of blasphemy, the accusation that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah; the threat of his political ambition to liberate Palestine from Roman rule; the jealousy of Herod; and Jesus' own plan to perform the final miracle of victory over death.
Pilate reluctantly passed the death sentence on Jesus at 6 A.M. (John 19:14) Pilate's wife thought Jesus was a "just man" and sent a message to Pilate, but it was too late. (Mathew 27:19-24).
Pilate scourged Jesus, and the soldiers pressed a crown of thorns upon his head. (Mathew 27:26,29)
Jesus carried his own crossbar to the crucifixion. When he stumbled and fell down, the soldiers compelled an onlooker from the North African city of Cyrene to carry the cross the rest of the way to the crucifixion site, Golgotha (Place of a Skull). His name was Simon. Jesus was crucified with two other prisoners, one on either side. His crime was posted above his head on a board attached to the cross. It was inscribed in Latin, Greek and Aramaic. In the Latin, the official language of the Romans, it read - "Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorrum-(INRI)" It is translated into English as "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The Jewish Priests were irritated by the sign, and asked Pilate to change it. But Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." (John 19:21-22)
When he was nailed to the cross by the soldiers, he offered a prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). Mary, his mother, his mother's sister, Mary Magdalene, other women disciples, and John were present at the crucifixion.
He left his mother in John's care saying to her, "Woman, behold thy son!" And to his disciple, "Behold thy mother!" (John 19:26-27) And, at the ninth hour on the cross, Jesus cried out, "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46) and he left his body.
Usually death by crucifixion takes several days. Since the religious leaders did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to order their legs broken. This was done to the two others, but since Jesus had already passed, they did not break his bones (John 19:33). "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." (John 19:34)
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin, declared their faith openly and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus for a proper burial. Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly.
Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds in weight. Joseph brought fine linen, and they wound the body in the linen cloth with the spices, as was the Jewish manner of burial. They carried the body to a nearby sepulchre, the unused tomb of Joseph. They placed the body inside, and closed the tomb with a large stone. The Jewish priests feared there would be tampering with the body, since Jesus had said, "after three days I will rise again," (Mark 8:31) so a guard was placed at the tomb.
The next day, at the end of the Sabbath, the women came to the sepulchre to annoint the body. They were terrified. The tomb was open. A young man in a white garment sat inside. He spoke:
Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6)
And the women ran to tell the others. Except Mary Magdalene. She stood in the garden, outside the tomb, and met a man that she thought was a gardener. She explained to him that someone had taken the body of Jesus, asking him if he knew anything about it. The man looked into her eyes and said, "Mary." She knew at once that it was Jesus. He instructed her to tell the disciples. (John 20:15-17)
He left that place, and was again detected by two disciples near the small village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. Then he appeared to the eleven as they sat at the evening meal; and he took bread and broke it and blessed it. As soon as the disciples recognized him, he disappeared. Jesus appeared to his disciples a number of times over a period of forty days, and he taught them.
He appeared to all the apostles, including Thomas. He called on Thomas and asked him to check his wounds.
Thomas fell on his knees, overwhelmed with emotion, and said, "My Lord, my God." Jesus answered with a blessing, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:28-29)
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Jesus was born as a Jew, lived like a Buddhist, taught as a Yogi, and left a legacy as a Christian.
But Jesus is an enigma. He is shrouded in cultural, social and political mystery. We really do not know the facts of his life. When was he born? Who was his father? Where did he live and study during the eighteen missing years? Did Judas betray him, or help him to perform the final act? Did he die on the cross? Was he resurrected in Spirit, or did he leave his body, come back to it and live a long life in Kashmir? Was he buried in a tomb in the Himalayas? Was he fictional or real? "The historical Jesus becomes the clear crystal pool into which scholars gaze to see themselves. " (3)
Despite all the conflicting stories of his life, he is the spiritual center and inspiration for a huge segment of humanity. In the major branches of Christianity today, there are 550 million Roman Catholics, 85 million Orthodox Catholics, and 320 million Protestants. (4)
Born in the Middle East, Jesus is the solid link between the East and the West.