IT’S COMMENCEMENT TIME
All across America, in venues large and small, High School and College seniors are walking for their diplomas. Their ceremonies will be in gyms, auditoriums, and civic centers. Some will go on to college while others will start careers. Some will choose the military and some will go on to grad school.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN
We tend to think of commencement as something coming to an end. It isn’t. The word means to begin, a beginning, or a launch.
A commencement isn’t about school or college ending; it’s about qualifying to begin something new, to commence with whatever’s next.
WHAT THAT LOOKED LIKE FOR JESUS
Jewish children, at least of the 1st century, attended school from age 6 until 12. The rabbi would have taught them, most likely. Both boys and girls attended school.
When their ancestors were in Babylonian exile, it was determined that all children should be taught to read and to know the Torah. Knowing how to read and memorizing the Torah insured each generation was able to sustain their faith, and to maintain Judaism.
At age 12, they commenced to other things. The boys began learning the trade of their fathers. The girls prepared for marriage. Traditionally, Jewish girls were married within a year of their first menstruation. The boys would marry once they were able to make a living.
DID JESUS GO TO SCHOOL?
There is debate regarding Jesus and school. Some say that he wouldn’t have attended, that he was God in the flesh so why would he need school?
Others suggest that he would have been raised as any other Jewish boy and therefore would have attended school in the Nazareth synagogue.
I can argue it both ways..
WHAT ABOUT THE RABIS?
Traditionally, only the boys recognized with divine gifts were encouraged to continue their education. Maybe one boy in a thousand was imbued with a rabbinic future. After completing “grade school” the gifted ones spent many more years studying, learning, and memorizing the Old Testament, or Tanakh.
A point in favor of Jesus not attending school, or at least not the advanced rabbinic school, was that he became a carpenter, or a builder, as was Joseph. Suggesting that from age 12, he was helping his father.
On the other hand, at age 12 he told Mary and Joseph when they found him at the temple, that he had to be about his Father’s business, to be in his Father’s house.
JESUS OUR MESSIAH
Newly minted rabbis began their ministries about the age of 30. Now think about Jesus. He was baptized in the Jordan, moved from Nazareth to Capernaum, an important rabbinic center, and there launched his ministry. He may or may not have attended school. He may or may not have received rabbinic training. But scripture says he began his ministry at 30. Not at 25 or 18, but at 30. Think about that.
- If he went to school, did he graduate?
- Was there a commencement?
- Did some famous rabbi speak?
- Were Mary and Joseph there, or just Mary?
- Was there a party? Was there cake?
- Was he the valedictorian?
- Did he get a pen and pencil set?
I’ve walked a few times. I’ve commenced. Usually there is pomp and circumstance, with proud and smiling family, and after, there is cake, always cake.
When Jesus graduated, when he commenced, he set his face towards Jerusalem and the hill of Golgotha.
Me? I just looked for a job.