CLAIM: The gospels fail to give many details from the period of Jesus’ birth to his adult years at the age of 30 (Lk. 3:23). Here, Luke gives a unique detail from when he was twelve years old. Why are more details not given?
RESPONSE: God chose not to detail the complete events of Jesus’ childhood and adolescence for a variety of reasons:
First, Jesus didn’t perform miracles during this time. The Gnostic gospels describe many events about Jesus’ miracles from his birth until his public ministry as a grown adult. Yet John records that Jesus’ first miracle didn’t occur until he turned the water into wine in Cana: “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee” (Jn. 2:11). The gospels might not record many details of Jesus’ life during these formative years, because there isn’t much to be shared.
Second, there were probably very few witnesses of Jesus during his adolescence besides his parents and family. Therefore, Luke probably had fewer details about Jesus’ life from this period.
Third, the purpose of the gospels was not to give an exhaustive or complete account of Jesus’ life. Instead, a selective account was created so that people throughout history could place their faith in Christ (Jn. 20:30-31). Similarly, when a reporter writes about a train wreck, they will also give a selective account to emphasize the major events in question.
Fourth, if the gospels gave an exhaustive account, this would be impossible to read. In fact, John wrote, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (Jn. 21:25).