In this article, we shall examine the eighteen silent years of Jesus and the commencement of His public ministry at age thirty. It is of strategic importance to examine this phase of His life and to see how prayer shaped the way forward for Him.
We are in possession of information about His life when He was twelve years old. Dr Luke shared the account of an event that took place at that age.
Luke 2:42, When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. The festival alluded to in this verse is the feast of the Passover, which His parents, along with Himself, commemorates every year.
This meant that they had to go down to Jerusalem from their hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. The full account of this fascinating event is recorded by Luke in his gospel, 2:41-50.
Following this event, we hear nothing more about Him until He was thirty years of age. According to Luke, He began His public ministry at age thirty.
In Luke 3:23, the record shows that Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. There is a clear gap of eighteen years between the two events mentioned above.
The question is and has always been, what was Jesus doing during those eighteen years? There are many speculations to this question, one such posits the view that Jesus was doing carpentry with his father, who was a carpenter, Matthew 13:55.
The validity of this position is questioned on several grounds. It is hardly rational that a young man, who so confounded the educated of His day, to the amazement of everyone present, would just disappear in a carpentry shop, waiting as it would seem, for time.
Further, Jesus never made a reference to carpentry during His ministry. On the other hand, it seems valid to suggest that those eighteen years were years of preparation for the ministry that is to come.
It was a time of strengthening His relationship with His Father. It seems that it was eighteen years of preparation for three years of ministry.
When Jesus entered the temple at age twelve, He was already a master at the art of prayer; it follows that prayer did not automatically happen, but rather He took time to cultivate it.
It seems natural to suggest that the ministry that followed, its intensity, did not happen automatically, but it required time to cultivate, time with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus entered the ministry, He was fully prepared and ready. It is obvious then that there was no gap between the eighteen years and public ministry.
One just flowed into the other. In Luke 3:21-23 we are told, “One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized.
As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Immediately after His baptism, Jesus began to pray.
A very consistent, committed, and tenacious prayer life was deeply engrained in him. It was the driving force of compassion and grace that accompanied Him throughout His earthly and heavenly ministry.
At this point, His prayer opened heaven, and the Father spoke, You are My son, whom I love; with You, I am well pleased.
What was the Father pleased about? It certainly was not ministry, as Jesus was not yet in ministry; rather, it was the level of their relationship which was built on the solid foundation of prayer.
It was His commitment to fulfil the will and purpose of the Father, which was constantly communicated to Him. The intensity of their relationship was unparalleled.
Using the example of the Father, who put intercessors in place long before His birth to intercede against efforts to kill Him. Simeon and Anna are two examples of the plan of the Father. In the same way, Jesus prepared well in advance for His ministry.