What do we know about Jesus' childhood? I started thinking about this during Christmas, because we give a lot of attention to Jesus' birth, but we never talk about what happened afterward. — A.J.
The Gospels don't tell us very much about Jesus' childhood; they focus instead on Jesus' public ministry, which only lasted about three years. Hundreds of years after Jesus lived, some people made up stories about His childhood, but that's all they were -- stories with no basis in fact.
Two events are recorded concerning Jesus' youth, however. One is a general comment telling us that after Mary and Joseph returned from Egypt (where they had fled to avoid King Herod's attempts to murder the young child), they settled in Nazareth, where Jesus worked alongside Joseph as a carpenter (see Mark 6:3). It reminds us that Jesus knows what it is to work, and He has shared in the kind of life we experience.
The other is an incident when Jesus was12. (You can read about it in Luke 2:41-52). Every year, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast -- a special time of worship and thanksgiving. As they were on their way back to Nazareth, they suddenly discovered Jesus was missing -- and they eventually found Him in the Temple discussing God's Word with the teachers there. When His parents rebuked Him, He said, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49).
Jesus' reply to them shows us that even as a boy, He knew that God had sent Him into the world to save us from our sins. And that is what He did, by going to the cross and shedding His blood for us. Have you responded to His love by committing your life to Him?