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The Preparation Period of Christ

by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

The scriptures draw a respectful veil about the preparation period of the Savior's life and record no specific information.  However, Elder McConkie made the following comments:

Our Lord's physical body conceived in Mary's womb, partook of Mary's nature; mortal genes, if you will, passed from mother to Son. His features, stature, and general appearance were passed on as much by his mortal mother as by his immortal Father. He was as much the product of the mother who bare him as were her other children. As a babe he began to grow, normally and naturally, and there was nothing supernatural about it. He learned to crawl, to walk, to run. He spoke his first word, cut his first tooth, took his first step—the same as other children do. He learned to speak; he played with toys like those of his brothers and sisters; and he played with them and with the neighbor children. He went to sleep at night and he awoke with the morning light. He took exercise, and his muscles were strong because he used them. During his ministry we see him walk long dusty miles, climb mountains, drive evil men—with force—from his Father's House.

We cannot do other than believe he was subject to disease and illness on the same basis as we all are. We know he was hungry, weary, and sorrowful; that his eyes were keen, his ears alert, and his tongue fluent. We know he seemed to his enemies as but another man, that he had to be singled out and identified with a traitor's kiss, and that he felt the stabbing pain of the Roman nails in his hands and feet the same as any mortal would. We cannot state too plainly that as a man he felt what other men feel, did what other men do, had the same appetites and passions as others have—all because he had been sent into mortality by his Father to be a mortal.

And as with our Lord's physical growth and development, so with his mental and spiritual progression. He learned to speak, to read, to write; he memorized passages of scripture, and he pondered their deep and hidden meanings. He was taught in the home by Mary, then by Joseph, as was the custom of the day. Jewish traditions and the provisions of the Torah were discussed daily in his presence. He learned the Shema, reverenced the Mezuzah, and participated in prayers, morning, noon, and night. Beginning at five or six he went to school, and certainly continued to do so until he came a son of the law at twelve years of age.

On Sabbaths and on week days he attended the synagogue, heard the prayers and sermons, and felt the spirit of the occasion. He participated in the regular worship during the feasts, particularly at Passover time. Indeed, the whole Jewish way of life was itself a teaching system, one that made the Jews a unique and peculiar people, a people set apart from all the nations of the Gentiles. It is also apparent that Jesus learned much from nature—from observing the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, and the foxes that have holes for homes.

It seems perfectly clear that our Lord grew mentally and spiritually on the same basis that he developed physically. In each case he obeyed the laws of experience and of learning, and the rewards flowed to Him. The real issue of concern is not that he grew and developed and matured—all in harmony with the established order of things, as is the case with all men—but that he was so highly endowed with talents and abilities, so spiritually sensitive, so in tune with the Infinite, that his learning and wisdom soon excelled that of all his fellows. His knowledge came to him quickly and easily because he was building as is the case with all men upon the foundations laid in preexistence. He brought with him from that eternal world the talents and capacities, the inclinations to conform and obey, and the ability to recognize truth that he had there acquired. Mozart had musical ability at the age of six that only a handful of men have ever gained in a whole lifetime. Jesus, when yet a child had spiritual talents that no other man in a hundred lifetimes could obtain....

With reference to Jesus' latter years of preparation—those between twelve and thirty—Luke says: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." Of the developing and maturing years of our Lord's life, Matthew tells us:  And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come. And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught, for he needed not that any man should teach him. And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

The Mortal Messiah, Vol.1, p.367-71

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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