In the Gospel of John 8:41, the pharisee's basically insinuate that Jesus was illegitimate when they declare:
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Remember, even in the beginning Joseph thought Mary had been fooling around before an Angel from God came and set him straight that her pregnancy was a foreordained miracle of God. If you have ever lived in a small town (which Jesus' parents did), you know that everyone in it knows everyone else's business and dirty laundry. The rumors spread like wild fire but the actual truth often never comes to light or people or just more inclined to listen to the juicy gossip.
I can't prove it but I get the impression from this and other verses that Mary may have had to suffer endless suspicion and doubt as to Jesus' real father or that she had been fooling around before marriage and should have been stoned to death as the law decreed.
The Bible declares that Jesus suffered in all things just like us; why would bullying be exempt? Perhaps it was an endless source of ridicule where he was concerned. Do you think that in their cruelest moments his peers cast dispersion's upon his mother (and him) which would have hurt and angered him? Can you imagine how difficult it might have been for Jesus to do nothing about it when he had all the power of the universe at his disposal? It might have been a very sore trial not to snap his fingers or speak the words and deliver some much needed justice and correction to those who would insult his mother!
My story, The Victor, explores this idea of Jesus potentially being bullied as a child. My protagonist, Joshua, enters into service anonymously as a page known as Immanuel where his peers don't realize that he is actually the son of the King. Below is an excerpt from this "Garden of Gethsemane type scene":
The following day Joshua awoke even more stiff and sore than the one before. To make matters worse, Jarrod was back with a vengeance. Joshua had no sooner gotten his buckler and wooden sword from the armory than he was forcibly grabbed from behind, spun about and rabbit punched in the face. Joshua raised his arms to protect himself but Jarrod was too fast and strong for him. Joshua felt Jarrod’s fists make contact with his face a few more times before he was thrown onto the ground. All the air in his lungs whooshed out of him. He could neither cry out, breathe, nor defend himself. Jarrod sat astride him, trapping Joshua’s arms against his side with his thighs.
“I’ll teach you to make a fool of me!” he screamed, punching his ribs on either side. He was oblivious to the other pages and knights that were running up from behind. The pages froze in horror but the knights did not. They reacted immediately. Sir Eric got to them first and threw Jarrod off. He went flying, landing face first in a pile of freshly dropped horse manure. Sir Bors and Sir Penloth knelt beside Joshua, rolling him over gently. His face was already purpling and swelling from the beating. Joshua struggled to rise but was constrained by the intense pain in his ribs. He bit his lip to keep from crying aloud, tears streaming down his cheeks. A strange whistling was coming from him whenever he drew breath. Penloth cursed loudly and lifted him into his arms; half-marching, half-running with him into the castle and bellowing for everyone to clear a path. His first impulse was to take Joshua immediately to the king’s personal physician but he still dare not do anything to expose him. Not knowing what else to do, he carried Joshua up into his own bedchamber, laid him on the bed then ran to summon the court physician who treated the knights. Joshua lay like a limp rag, fighting back his tears without success. Why did Jarrod hate him so? What had he ever done to deserve such brutality? The physician arrived in moments and checked him over from head to foot, giving no indication that he recognized Joshua for who he really was. Gently he prodded each rib, causing Joshua to yelp and convulse with pain. Two ribs were bruised and one appeared to be fractured. His nose was bleeding but unbroken and both eyes were blackened and swollen shut. The physician concocted several poultices, layering them in strips of clean linen. One he laid across Joshua’s eyes and face and the other he wrapped tightly about his ribs. Joshua did his best to bear it bravely. Then he was given a good draft of laudanum to put him to sleep and numb the pain. It tasted bitter and smelled foul but Joshua suffered him to ladle it into his mouth. Heavy drowsiness swept over him, numbing the pain; soon he was asleep.
Penloth stayed by his side throughout the day, giving him sips of water whenever he woke and more laudanum as needed, his heart burning with anger. Curse his stupidity for not having prevented today’s beating! He was well aware of Jarrod’s propensity toward petty violence but it had never escalated to this level before. This morn he had almost beaten the crown prince to a pulp.
At that moment he felt a hand upon his shoulder. He looked up to find a cloaked figure standing behind him.
“Leave us for a while, my good knight,” said the voice from beneath the cowl. Penloth’s face drained of blood. There was no mistaking the voice. It was the king!
He stood to his feet, unable to look his master in the face.
Eloth patted his shoulder reassuringly. “Do not blame thyself, my good Captain. I’m sure this is not the first time a page has taken his fist to another. Jarrod shall be dealt with accordingly. Go now to thy rest; I will keep watch by Immanuel’s side this night.”
Penloth hesitated for only a moment, nodded then exited the chamber to room with his brother. Eloth knelt beside the bed, threw back the cowl and took Joshua’s small hand into his, murmuring words of comfort. Joshua slowly awoke to the smell of beeswax candles, a poultice of pungent spices and the foul taste of laudanum upon his lips. Every inch of him was in excruciating pain. He tried to sit up but collapsed, finally succumbing to tears of defeat. What was the use? He had failed, both himself and his father. Pent up sobs of misery and shame wracked his small body despite how much it hurt him to cry. Eloth’s arms went about him, drawing him close in a gentle hug to cradle him against his breast.
“Father!” Joshua wept, clutching at him fiercely. “They hate me! I ju-ju-just can’t do this anymore!”
Eloth said nothing in response; he just held his son closer in his arms, resting his chin upon his shorn head. Joshua buried his bruised and swollen face against his father’s breast, allowing himself to weep with abandon, his entire body heaving. He wept until he could weep no more and still his father said nothing.
“I do not wish to return to the academy,” Joshua hiccupped, unable to speak clearly. “It is harder than I ever dreamed but even worse is that page, Jarrod! He..he...he hates me without reason![i] Please talk to me, father…what am I to do?”
Eloth closed his eyes as if deep in thought but still gave no answer. Joshua’s lip quivered violently as he struggled with his warring emotions. “If I do not return then I will have failed you and our kingdom, won’t I? I’ll be proven a coward. I will disappoint not only Sir Penloth and Sir Luther but…but you most of all. Oh, father, please tell me what to do! I don’t want to go back yet how can I live with myself if I do not see this through? Father, have thee no words of counsel for me?” His voice trailed off on a feeble whimper of pain.
Eloth opened his eyes, looking down upon his beloved son with love and compassion. Joshua could barely see him through his swollen eyes.
“The choice is entirely thine, my son,” he replied softly, gently wiping the tears that leaked from his purpled eyes. “I will not force thee to drink this cup. It is not only thine own reputation that is at stake but the welfare of our kingdom as well; much now depends upon thee.”
Joshua sank back into his father’s arms and a long silence ensued as he struggled against what he wanted to do and what he knew he needed to do. It was such a heavy burden to carry. It would be so much easier to walk away from it all and go back to his old life, but could he really? He thought of his soft bed with the down pillows and coverlets, the books and scrolls that lined the shelves in his room, the rich foods he had given up, and the many intellectual pursuits he had left behind– and could easily return to with but a single word. Most of all, he missed his father! He missed their long talks by candlelight; holding his large warm hand as they walked; being cuddled in his arms as they read books together by firelight and the game of chess he had just begun to teach him. How he longed to be back with him again yet, in his inner heart he knew what honor demanded of him. A shuddering sigh shook his entire body as he finally came to his decision.
“I will return,” he said at last in a small voice. “I will not bring shame upon thy name. I will do what I must for our kingdom.”
Answer my poll about bullying below this post. I'd really love to hear from you.