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Let No One Despise Your Youth--Just Ask the Disciples!

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

The world often views children, teens, and young adults as inexperienced, immature, and having everything to learn but nothing to offer.

Jesus, however, had revolutionary views on...everything, really, but He particularly honored young children. Jesus exalted the humble; His glory shined through the unexpected. That's just who He is--everything He does is laced with humility.

Jesus admired and extolled childlike faith.

Consider Mark 10:13-15: "And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, 'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'"

Here, Jesus not only welcomes the children but also teaches that we must become like children to enter His kingdom! The children approached Him boldly, unconcerned about how they looked, what they did ten minutes ago, or if they had the "right" to be in His presence. And Jesus loves that faith. He wants us to approach Him with the same childlike fervor and adoration, with a quick and firm "yes," not with the confusing layers and "buts" we add to our faith as the world burdens us.

Furthermore, Paul wrote some guidance and encouragement to Timothy as he served the Lord. First Timothy 4:12 reads, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

Regardless of your age and experience, God wants to partner with you in His ministry. You are not disqualified from His service because you are young. In fact, He often pursues the young; it's a prime time for training. We are in more humble, teachable positions when we are aware we having learning and growing to do. Even if we were 100 years old, there would still be much to learn, but unfortunately, many equate age with wisdom. Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing. It is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:19). All believers have the same Holy Spirit in their hearts. When relying on Him, we are capable of godly wisdom despite our age and earthly experiences. Even when we lack wisdom, He encourages us to ask, and He will supply it (James 1:5).

Need some biblical examples of God partnering with the young? Look at His disciples!

Christian films often portray the disciples as old, bearded men, but this depiction is not biblically accurate.

In the New Testament, Jesus would occasionally refer to the disciples as "dear children" (John 13:33, Mark 10:24). Even though Jesus calling any of us "children" would make sense, in Jewish culture older men were respected for their age. This is one indication that the disciples were much younger than Jesus, probably in their early to mid teens. Luke 3:23 states that Jesus was about 30 when He began His ministry, which aligns with the Old Testament priestly qualifications (Numbers 4:3). The Bible encourages His people to honor and respect their elders (1 Peter 5:5, Lev. 19:32, Prov. 16:31). Paul commands in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 to encourage older men as fathers and younger men as brothers. In John 20:17, Jesus referred to the disciples as His "brethren" or "brothers." Though Jesus is the ultimate authority, He humbled Himself and still submitted to authorities (ex. paying taxes in Mark 12). Therefore, there is no reason to believe He wouldn't also honor the disciples had they been older.

The Mishnah, which contains oral interpretations of the Torah during Jesus' lifetime, outlines the Jewish educational process for a young boy:

“At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years the Mishnah (oral Torah, interpretations), at thirteen for the fulfilling of the commandments, at fifteen the Talmud (making Rabbinic interpretations), at eighteen the bride-chamber, at twenty pursuing a vocation, at thirty for authority (able to teach others).”

We know that Peter was married during Jesus' lifetime, but the Bible does not explicitly describe marriages among any of the other disciples during His ministry (Others may have been married, but the Bible does not identify any other marriages. However, based on 1 Corinthians 9:5, we can assume others were married before or after Jesus' earthly ministry). Therefore, Peter was at least eighteen since he had a wife (based on the quote from the Mishnah). Furthermore, according to Exodus 30:14, those over twenty years old had to pay a tax to the tabernacle, which was the same tax Jesus and Peter discussed in Matthew 17:24-27. This information suggests that Peter was at least twenty years old. James and John were with Him during this interaction, but Jesus told Peter to only pay the tax for Him and for himself, not all of them. Lastly, Acts 4:13 states that Peter and John spoke before the religious leaders, and the leaders recognized they were "uneducated" and "untrained" men speaking with great boldness, and they were amazed. Since they were identified as uneducated and the other disciples didn't mention spouses or paying taxes, it is likely that most of the disciples were young teens, at least younger than 18-20!

Consider the influence these disciples have had on the world. What incredible things God did through 12 young men! He can work mightily through you too! God does amazing things through willing, teachable, and humble people--no matter their age.

Be encouraged!

~Ally Boland

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