Top Ten Young People in the Bible



'When they (Mary and Joseph) had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them "Why were you searching for me? Did you now know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.'

Do you remember that line in Monty Python's Life of Brian where someone says: 'He' not the Messiah, he's just a naughty boy!' It's hard to imagine, but Mary and Joseph may have thought something like this when they lost their 12-year-old son Jesus. Though he was now legally a man, he was still to them just their boy who had gone missing in a crowded city. They must have been distraught.
Jesus, however, already knew that he was destined to be more than a carpenter in Galilee. Not yet a grown man, he realized he had a mission that would change the world.
That sense of purpose is something we'd all like to have. If you can, try to work out where you want to go with your own life. What do you want to achieve? What do you have to do to achieve these aims? How do you turn your ideals into solid, practical reality? Look for opportunities, and don't throw them away.


'And Saul armed David with his armor, and put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul's sword over the armor, but he tried in vain to walk, because he was not used to armor.

So David removed it. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the creek, and put them in his shepherd's bad. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

When the Philistine saw David, he scorned him, for he was only a boy. He said to David: "Am I a dog, that you come to me with a stick in your hand? I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild animals."

But David ran quickly towards the Philistine. He put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

There was no sword in David's hand. He ran forward and stood over the Philistine's body, grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.'
1 Samuel 17:38-51






David is a great example of lateral thinking. He had a problem that could not be solved in any traditional way. He was a young boy with a young boy's strength, and he faced an enemy who was mightily strong, an experienced fighting man, and one who held all the cards, so to speak, in psychological warfare. The man whom David faceddhas a long history of violence and intimidation, and David sensibly realized he could not beat this ogre by fighting him in the traditional manner.
So he looked at the problem,, faced his own limitations, asked for God's help, then wondered how he could use the skills he did have. What were these skills? Well, a cool head was one thing, and an inventive brain. Another advantage he had was that he could use a slingshot with deadly accuracy.
He could at least choose his own weapon. And this piece of lateral thinking is how he came to kill Goliath.
The lesson? Don't give up because you are outclassed in one area. We are all outclassed at some time or another. Think about the skills you do have, and adapt the situation to fit these skills.

'But an opportunity came (to kill John the Baptist) when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. when his daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." And he solemnly swore to her "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to brings John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it tot the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.' Mark 6:21-28

'Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had been telling him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother.' Matthew 14:3-11

Salome's lurid image as an under-age seductress did not come from the gospels. It was developed in the 19th century, from the fevered imaginations of artists and writers like Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss.
There was very little historical reality in their presentation of this 1st century Jewish princess, so try to put that image of her aside.
Look at the bare bones of her story. What was the aim of this young girl? To save her mother, to protect her mother from attack by someone Salome would have seen as a political agitator. She was not unlike Chelsea Clinton, springing to the defense of Hillary. No child likes to see their parent being attacked.
Where Salome went wrong is that she put loyalty to her mother above all else. Family loyalty is worthwhile, but only when it does not clash with real morality.
'In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
And he came to her and said "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceived in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High."
Mary said to the angel "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."
Then Mary said "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a out cry "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.'
(Luke 1:26-42, 56)



Mary of Nazareth has become such a venerated figure that it is hard to imagine her as a young unmarried girl who found herself pregnant in a society that demanded virginity in every unmarried girl.
As far as the people around her were concerned, Mary was pregnant to some man who was not her promised husband, Joseph. Outrage and hostility would have been directed at her from all sides.
Faced with this situation, she did two things: she wholeheartedly accepted God's will, placing her faith in God's ultimate wisdom. And she removed herself from the distressing situation in her native town, and went instead to visit her sympathetic older cousin, Elizabeth.
She accepted that God had a plan for her, even though she might not be able to understand it; and placed herself under the guidance of a sensible older person.
The lesson? God's plan is often difficult to fathom, but we should accept it and trust in God's ultimate wisdom - and not be too proud to listen to the advice of a sensible, older person who is prepared to help.


'Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.
Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age, and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.
Now his brothers went to pasture their father's flock near Shechem. And Jacob said to Joseph "Come, I will send you to the. See if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me."
So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another "Here comes this dreamer. Let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him."
But his brother Reuben said to them "Let us not take his life. Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him." He planned to rescue him and restore Joseph to their father.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. Then they sat down to eat.
Then they saw a caravan of camels on its way to Egypt, and Judah said "Come, let us sell him instead of killing him. For he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers agreed. They sold him to twenty pieces of silver, and Joseph was taken to Egypt.
Then they took Joseph's robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the robe to their father; he recognized it. Then Jacob tore his garments and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son. He refused to be comforted.'
Genesis 37
  BIBLE YOUNG PEOPLE: TOP TEN: JOSEPH SON OF JACOB.Diego Velázquez. Joseph's Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob.

Joseph, son of Jacob, became one of the great heroes of the Old Testament. He was brilliant, subtle and extraordinarily capable, apparently able to adapt to any situation and use it to his advantage. But that was later on.
As a young man he was still making mistakes, and one of them was his arrogant treatment of his brothers - for which he would pay dearly.
There are two clues that give him away: the deep hatred his own brothers felt for him - all of them, even Reuben who tried to save him. This hatred must have come from somewhere. It sounds as if Joseph was one of those people who do nothing to hide their contempt for lesser mortals.
The other clue is the famous long sleeved coat, often incorrectly called the Coat of Many Colors. Long sleeves on a coat at that time meant that the wearer did not do any manual labor. He gave the orders to others, who had to carry them out. If Jacob gave Joseph a coat like that, it meant he put Joseph, the youngest, in charge of all his older brothers - which of course they resented.
As it would later turn out, Joseph was indeed more capable than his brothers - but he was also their junior. The question is, how could Joseph have handled the situation better? How could he have been his true, very capable self, without giving offence to his brothers? How do we use our gifts in a way that lets other people shine as well?


'Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli, the priest. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord.
Then the Lord called "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said "Here I am!" and ran to Eli, and said "Here I am, for you called me!" But he said "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down.
The Lord called again "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said "Here I am, for you called me." But he said "I did not call, my son; lie down again."
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said "Here I am, for you called me."
Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel "Go lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said "Speak, for your servant is listening."
1 Samuel 3
Samuel lived in a time of social unrest when violence and contempt for law was common. Samuel became the bridge from this lawless period into a time when Israel was governed by kings. He became a powerful and influential man - but he was not always so.
When he was just a baby his mother dedicated him to God, and he lived in the Temple precincts, where he was educated. Something extraordinary happened to him there when he heard a call from God that made it clear he was to have an special destiny. People around him could not hear the voice of God, but  he could - and it came to him in the still of the night.
It's said that God has a soft voice that can only be heard in silence. This is when God speaks to us - when we are quiet and listening. Try to put aside some time in your day when you can listen to what God is saying to you.

'As he walked by the sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father, mending their nets, and he called them "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.'
Matthew 4:18-22

'Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman here is your son." Then he said to the disciple "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.'
John 19:25-27

John came from a very ordinary background: his family were fishermen, and he expected to go into the family business. But one day he met Jesus, and that changed everything.
John was just a young man, but the charismatic teacher from Galilee called him to follow, and he downed tools and followed, without a glance behind.
According to tradition, he was only young at the time, hardly more than a boy. He was quick-tempered and impulsive - Jesus called him and his older brother James the 'sons of thunder' because of their tempers. Despite this, or maybe because of it, Jesus loved him and his brother and trusted them.
John was present at some of the key moments in Jesus' life.
He saw Jesus bring Jairus' daughter back to life.
He saw whatever it was that mysteriously happened at the Transfiguration.
He was standing in the dark shadows when the soldiers arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Then he stood near the foot of the cross as Jesus died in horrifying agony, the only one of Jesus' friends who did not desert him. In response, Jesus entrusted his young friend with the care of Mary.
After Jesus died, John became one of the main leaders of the early Christian church. He may have been the author of John's Gospel; if so, he was a poet and a man of brilliant intellect.
The message of his story? Knowledge of Jesus and his teachings, and acceptance of them, can transform an ordinary life into something quite extraordinary.

'So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, abut the distance of a bowshot; for she said "Do not let me look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.
And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar, and said to her "What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy. Come, lift him up, for I will make a great nation of him."
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the boy. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.'
Genesis 21:8-21

Ishmael was the eldest son of Abraham, by his wife's slave, Hagar. He grew up expecting that he would be the next leader of his father's tribe. But this was not to happen.
His father's chief wife, Sarah, unexpectedly gave birth to a son when Ishmael was about fourteen years old - in tribal society at that time, this meant that he was already a man. There was an uneasy truce between the two women.
When it was time to wean Sarah's baby there was a great feast, with singing and dancing. Ishmael was playing with his baby brother, perhaps making fun of him, and this enraged Sarah. She demanded that Ishmael and his mother be cast out of the tribe. Since she had always been the main wife, she wanted her son to be the heir of Abraham - not Ishmael.
Abraham loved Ishmael, but he gave in to Sarah. The next morning he sent them out into the unforgiving desert. They were alone and abandoned by everyone. Hagar was Egyptian, so she headed in the general direction of Egypt, but there was no chance at all they would make it. Before very long the small supply of water was exhausted, and the pair began to die of thirst.
Ishmael began to succumb first - he may have insisted that his mother drink what little water there was. Hagar dragged him under the shade of a bush, then moved away, so that she would not have to watch his death agony. But Ishmael was not a boy to give in easily. H was not done yet: he prayed, and God heard him. An angel appeared and told Hagar where to find water - and the pair of them survived.
Don't give up, even when things look hopeless. You never know how the situation may change.

                        BIBLE YOUNG PEOPLE: TOP TEN: RUTH

But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die
There I will be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me
And more as well
If even death parts me from you!”’
Book of Ruth 1:16-17

Naomi was an Israelite woman who, during a famine, had gone with her family to live in the country of Moab. She had two sons, and one of them had married a young Moabite girl called Ruth. But he died, as did Naomi's other son and her husband as well. She was left quite alone in a foreign country - alone, that is, except for Ruth and the other daughter-in-law, Orpha.

The girls were Moabites, not Israelites, and so Naomi assumed they would want to return to their families. In fact Orpah decided to leave, but Ruth could not be budged. She had shared loneliness, anxiety and grief with Naomi, and now that the older woman was completely alone, Ruth would not abandon her. She made a speech (see opposite), one of the most famous passages in the Bible, telling Naomi that she meant to stay with her.

She realized that she was poor, a foreigner, and young - and that life would be tough for them in Bethlehem. But she was loyal to the older woman, and would not leave her to face these difficulties alone.

When they went back to Bethlehem, Naomi decided to help the girl (and herself as well) by setting up a match between Ruth and a rich young landowner. Ruth had the good sense to listen to Naomi's advice, and the love story has a happy ending - it illustrates the triumph of courage and loyalty over adverse circumstances. She has special significance for Christians: In the gospel of Matthew, four women were included in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-17), and Ruth was one of the four.
Try to recognize good advice when you hear it.


'Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." So he went with him.........
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue "Do not fear, only believe."
He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James.
When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him.
Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.
He took her by the hand and said to her "Talitha cum" which means, "Little girl, get up!"
And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He told them to give her something to eat.'
Mark 5:22-43

Whenever you look up a Commentary on this miracle, the writer describes Jesus and Jairus, but hardly ever mentions the young girl in the story. And yet surely this must have been the most extraordinary experience for her. She was dead, and then she was alive again.
The story encourages us to think about our own state of spiritual health - are we as good as dead in our hearts? Dead without even realizing we are dead? Do we need the message of Jesus to restore us to life? Does Jesus extend the gift of life to us, as he did to this girl?
The final sentence in the story shows a side of Jesus that is usually ignored - his good common sense. Even in the midst of the hullabaloo this miracle must have caused, Jesus still recognized that the now-healthy girl wass probably hungry, and needed something to eat.

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