Recent cinematic offerings like Risen and The Young Messiah have taken real liberties with the biblical text, while making a case for Jesus’ divinity and miracle-working power from fresh and unusual perspectives. Christians will be divided over how much artistic licence is allowed on such ventures.
In the case of The Young Messiah, a sticking point of orthodoxy for some will be the working of miracles by a prepubescent Jesus. The biblical text tells us that Jesus began His miracles at the marriage in Cana; however, this may be a reference to His Palestinian mission which would lead to His crucifixion and resurrection. There is no scriptural necessity to believe that Christ had performed no miracles prior to this.
Indeed, legends and tradition tell us otherwise.
As Steven Collins has so powerfully documented, there is a wealth of extra-biblical evidence to suggest that Jesus had a miracle ministry prior to His last three to three and a half years in Galilee and Judea. This ministry took place in lands far from Christ’s Nazareth home while He was apprenticed to Joseph of Arimathea, thought to be His mother’s uncle and, if so, a decent contender for the head of the family after Mary’s husband Joseph’s death. Collins even speculates that a young Jesus visited America and performed works of wonder there.
These works have also been recorded here in Britain where Joseph of Arimathea is supposed to have had vast mining interests in Cornwall and perhaps even as far north as Scotland. This Joseph was Nobilis Decurio, the Roman Minister of Mining and as such held an office higher than Senator, according to some. He was also one of – if not THE – richest men in the known world. This may have been down to his own enterprises, although there is plausible speculation that the vast wealth given to an infant Jesus by the mighty Parthian empire was invested in Joseph of Arimathea’s business.
Jesus was said to have spent much of His time here in the British Isles as His uncle’s apprentice. This is not as incredible as we have been taught to believe. Sea trade was brisk between these isles and the Middle East for many years before Christ’s birth and fast boats sailed from the Cornish coasts up to the Western Isles, taking away the need to traverse the island itself on a much slower and potentially hazardous journey. Christ’s Presence in Britain is a strong tradition with many legends to back it up.
Barry Dunford has written extensively on the visit(s) of Jesus to these isles and even speculates that Jesus’ grandparents lived in Perthshire as Celto-Hebraic royalty before being divinely led to return to Palestine in time for Jesus to be born. The ancient annals are replete with references to connections between Jesus’ extended family and British royalty.
It’s all fascinating stuff and does no injury to the scriptural text if one chooses to believe the legends. It does, however, blow away the religious idea of Jesus as a poor joiner fixing table legs and planing sticky doors. We forget that Jesus was of the House of David and thus both royal and aristocratic.
One thing is for sure. There is an ongoing fascination with the Man, Christ Jesus. Sadly, mainstream Christianity has often done a poor job of taking advantage of this and of portraying Jesus as the Person He most definitely was and is.
We forget the Bible’s own witness to the One whose birth we are presently celebrating:-
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. JOHN 20:30,31 MEV
This book by Steven Collins contains extensive information on the missing years of Jesus
A great investigative work by Dennis Price on the Christ in Britain legend
A great book by Glyn Lewis on Jesus visiting Britain prior to His Palestinian ministry
My study on Jesus in Britain