The holy family
Oil on canvas; 183.5 x 123 cm; c.163?
Munich, Alte Pinakothek
The childhood years of Jesus passed very quickly, and little is known or written of that time. The story resumes in Jesus' twelfth year. With his parents, he went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. This was a very special date on the Jewish calendar, as the people of God recalled his provision for their escape from bondage and slavery. For a number of days the holy family remained in Jerusalem, as was their custom. But when it finally came time to return to their hometown of Nazareth, Jesus was nowhere to be found. Eventually, they found him back in the temple, sitting in the midst of the temple teachers, scribes, and elders, both listening to them and asking them questions. Amazed, they approached their son. Mary addressed him with a motherly rebuke, "Son, why have behaved in such a manner? Your father and I have sought for you with anxious hearts."

But Jesus replied, "Did you not know that I must now be about my Father's business?"

Both Mary and Joseph were puzzled by these words. And so they returned together to Nazareth, but Mary began to examine all of these things in her heart, keeping her thoughts to herself. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor before God and men.

 Jesus in the temple Etching;
9.5 x 14.4 cm; c. 1654
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being then governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests at the temple in Jerusalem, the word of God came to a man named John, the son of Zacharias. And John went into the entire wilderness region around Jordan, preaching repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, as was written in the book of Isaiah the prophet:

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare for the Lord's coming,
Make his way straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
And every mountain and hill shall be leveled;
The crooked places shall be made straight,
And the rough ways smooth;
And all humankind shall see the salvation of God."

Some of John's followers thought that he was the Christ, the Messiah that had been promised by the prophets. But John answered such questions, saying: "I do baptize you with water, but a mightier one is coming. He will baptize you, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and fire."

And with many such exhortations he preached to the people.

The sermon of John the Baptist
Oil on canvas; 62 x 80 cm; c. 1634-36
Berlin, Gemaldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen