Chapter 6 – Becoming Your True Self
In the section “An Identity Grounded In God”, Mr. Benner said “No one born with an identity, and Jesus was no exception” to emphasis that Jesus is a fully man (although he is fully God at the same time). Thus, Jesus has to discover who he was when he was growing up.
The Bible for Protestant does not include much detail about Jesus’s childhood, expect “a few stories of visitors during infancy and the family’s movements to and from Egypt” and “his visit to the temple at age twelve” and stayed in Jerusalem “sitting among the doctors”, listening and asking questions without follow his parents to leave for home. Mr. Benner tried guessing how Jesus had grown humanly from an infant to the age of twelve.
Mr. Benner believed that Jesus, no different from other children, was “in relation to their parents”. However, Mr. Benner believed that Mary is very prominent as she was a woman “apart from all others” by quoting Luke 1:29, 42, 38 – a most blessed woman highly favored by God being selected with “standfast confidence in trustworthiness of God’s love” and willing to humbly surrenders to God’s will. Jesus learnt by witness his earthly mother Mary and internalized all these, together with the possibility of “deep conviction that he was the “Son of the most High””, “visits of the shepherds and wise men”, “prophecies of Simeon and Anna” and his family viewing him as “the promised and long-awaited savior” to Israel.
To be honest, I am less convicted of the speculation made by Mr. Benner – if this was not something recorded in Bible, I believe there could be other sensible guesses. After all, a woman “highly favour by God” does not necessarily meant that favour comes directly from her good faith. And even she has a good faith, does it necessary means that Jesus had to learn through Mary? Apart from this, can we have better or other valid guesses? Any impact if development along this chapter was build on this?
Going back to the incident at 12, when Mary found Jesus with the doctors and she expressed her emotions.
“Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Luke 2 v48b
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2 v49-50
and Mary didn’t say a word and the bible said Joseph and Mary didn’t understand. What if she understood? My guess is that she would probably remember or understood without puzzling he was the Son of God? Probably she can relate this incident to what she had experienced. Let’s think this way, if we were Mary (no matter you are male or female, come on 🙂 ) and we experienced Luke 1:26-38 at their time, can we fully believe what we were experiencing? For me, I would probably doubt if I was in some kinds of mental disorders. As the story continues to unfold in Luke 1 v39 and beyond, Mary may get a bit more understanding, probably until Jesus was hanged on the cross, incinerated and resurrected she got the full picture what’s meant by the Son of God and the Savior.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the work and effort of Mr. Benner to integrate psychology, personal growth and Christian spirituality. The Gift of Being Yourself also gives insights and reflections along the way I read it and I would recommend it, but just that there was a few points that I have some doubts and need further research.