According to one early gospel, the boy Jesus does not sound like a very nice person. I’m glad he wasn’t my neighbor or playmate when I was a kid!
Let me share a couple of stories about this mean-tempered, foul-mouthed Jesus when he was five. Jesus was out playing by himself when a neighbor boy came by and watched Jesus build little water ponds in the ground. Suddenly, the neighbor boy picked up a willow branch and destroyed the ponds. Jesus was livid and started yelling at the boy: “Damn you, you ungodly ignoramus! What harm were the ponds of water doing you? From now on, you too will dry up like a tree and you’ll never produce leaves or roots or bear fruit” (3:2). Instantly, the kid withered and Jesus went home.
The parents of the withered boy heard about the incident and went looking for their son. When they found him, they went straight to Jesus’s house, and the father started yelling at Joseph: “It’s your fault—your boy did all this” (3:3). Joseph had no idea what the man was yelling about.
Here’s another story about Jesus: he was walking through the village when a boy ran by and bumped Jesus on the shoulder, you know, the ways boys do. This really ticked Jesus off, so he said to the kid, “Your trip is over!” (4:1). With that, the boy fell over dead. Some of the neighbors saw Jesus do this and wondered where he came from and how he could do such an awful thing.
You can imagine how angry that boy’s parents were. They went right over to confront Joseph: “Teach your boy to bless and not curse, or else you can’t live with us in the village. Your son is killing our children!” (4:2). Could you ever imagine any child doing this at five?
Joseph went to Jesus and asked, “Why are you doing all this? These people hate and harass us because they are all suffering” (5:1). I think I might have said something a bit stronger. Jesus started to make excuses: “I know that the words I spoke are not mine. Still, I’ll keep quiet for your sake. But those people must take their punishment” (5:2). Suddenly, all his accusers were struck blind. Yikes!
Joseph was really mad now, so he grabbed Jesus’s ear and pulled very hard. This ticked off Jesus, who said, “Don’t you know that I don’t belong to you?” and then threatened Joseph with “and don’t get me angry” (5:6). This kid’s only five and already he’s this obnoxious!
There many more negative stories about the brat Jesus, but these are enough for now.
You are probably asking, where am I finding this lovely material, and why am I sharing it? I’m quoting from a text called “The Infancy Gospel of Thomas,” which is found in The Complete Gospels, edited by Robert J. Miller (Polebridge Press, 2010). The earliest manuscript we have is from the sixth century, but Bishop Irenaeus, in 185 CE, alludes to such writings about the childhood of Jesus in one of his books.
Why am I sharing such horrendous tales about Jesus as a boy? First, it is shocking to hear such negative stories about Jesus. Most folks see him as a perfect specimen of humanity. Second, originally the stories were not necessarily told to denigrate Jesus but rather to show that even as a little boy, he had supernatural powers. Third, one cannot read or interpret the Bible in a literal way. The stories were not written as history or even the truth. One must look into the heart of the stories to find the truth, which in this case has to do with Jesus’s powers. Even though I don’t believe a word of this gospel, I find the stories fun in an odd sort of way.
What do you think? Are they true? Or are they fabrications to make Jesus look like the first-century Superman?