Teachings By Jesus

Cultural Limitation

Possible Slavery

A careful researcher must note that there is evidence that Jesus’s mother was a slave, and that Jesus was therefore born into slavery and He was a slave until the age of thirty. Slavery was ubiquitous in the time and place where Jesus lived, and this evidence so strongly fits the details of Jesus’s life that I have come to accept it as likely true. But for many, the very idea is so repellent that I leave it up to you to decide. Here is some of the evidence:

  • Mary identifies herself as a slave-girl to the Archangel Gabriel. She uses the female version of a Greek word which is translated as “slave” when it is used for a male.
  • A mere stable is considered to be sufficient shelter for a woman who is about to give birth. We think the “no room in the Inn” story of Jesus’s birth is charming, but in fact it is a sign of Mary’s low status, especially in view of her late-state pregnancy.
  • Joseph may not have married Mary. Jesus from the cross asks His Apostle, John, to look after His mother (see JN 19:27), so we know that Jesus is not certain that his father will care for his mother after His death. As indeed apparently Joseph does not care for her, according to a close reading of the Gospel of Luke.
  • As an observant Jew, Jesus should have married in His teens, but oddly this seems not to have happened. But if Mary was a slave, by law her Son would have been born into slavery Himself, and perhaps He could not have married until He was emancipated.
  • A decree by the Roman Emperor Augustus in the year 4 CE granted those born into slavery their freedom at the age of thirty. This adequately explains what are called Jesus’s “lost years,” when He would have been a slave carpenter working for His father, and it tells us why Jesus did not begin His public ministry until the age of thirty.
  • The Lost Years. It is odd and much too coincidental that Jesus began His public ministry precisely at the age of thirty, and not sooner. As the Son of God, Jesus had no need to travel and learn anything from gurus in Nepal.
  • Jesus was oddly despised by His homefolk for speaking with authority at the start of His ministry. When Jesus read Isaiah’s prophesy of the coming of the Messiah in His home synagogue in Nazareth soon after He was baptized by John the Baptist, and He followed it by saying, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” and they were so enraged by what He had just said that they tried to throw Him off a cliff (see LK 4:14-30). A presumptuous local boy who had only lately been a slave might inspire such rage, but surely nothing less!

We all plan our lives on earth. And so did Jesus. He planned a life as the poorest of the poor, and in that time and place that may well have meant that Jesus chose to be born a slave so He could better observe and understand how people in that condition were treated by those above them in rank. And God could then have influenced the Emperor Augustus to decree the necessary emancipation in time for Jesus to begin His teaching career when He was thirty. Who knows?