"What happened during Jesus' childhood?"
Answer: Other than Luke 2:41-52, the Bible does not tell us anything about Jesus’ youth. From this incident we do know certain things about Jesus’ childhood. First, He was the son of parents* who were devout in their religious observances. As required by their faith, Joseph and Mary made the yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. In addition, they brought their 12-year-old son to celebrate His first Feast in preparation for His bar mitzvah at age 13, when Jewish boys commemorate their passage into adulthood. Here we see a typical boy in a typical family of that day.
We see also in this story that Jesus’ lingering in the temple was neither mischievous nor disobedient, but a natural result of His knowledge that He must be about His Father’s business. That He was astonishing the temple teachers with His wisdom and knowledge speaks to His extraordinary abilities, while His listening and asking questions of His elders shows that He was utterly respectful, taking the role of a student as was fitting for a child of His age.
From this incident to His baptism at age 30, all we know of Jesus’ youth was that He left Jerusalem and returned to Nazareth with His parents and “was obedient to them” Luke 2:51. He fulfilled His duty to His earthly parents in submission to the 5th commandment, an essential part of the perfect obedience to the law of Moses which He rendered on our behalf. Beyond that, all we know is that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).
Evidently, this is all God determined that we needed to know. There are some extra-Biblical writings which contain stories of Jesus’ youth (the Gospel of Thomas, for example). But we have no way of knowing whether any of these stories are true and reliable. God chose not to tell us much about Jesus’ childhood – so we have to just trust Him that nothing occurred which we need to know about.
*While we believe it is accurate to describe Joseph and Mary as Jesus' parents, it is very important to remember that Mary was Jesus' biological mother with Joseph being Jesus' adoptive father.
"What were the key events in the life of Jesus Christ?" (Part 1):
Birth: (Luke 2:1-20) – Within this passage are all the elements of the well-known Christmas story, the beginning of the earthly life of Christ. Mary and Joseph, no room at the inn, the babe in the manger, the shepherds with their flocks, wise men from the East following the star to Bethlehem and bearing gifts for the Christ child, a multitude of angels rejoicing—all these things make up the amazing story of the birth of the Savior two thousand years ago. But the story of God coming to earth as a man began many years earlier with the prophecies of the coming Messiah. Isaiah foretold of a virgin who would conceive and bear a son and call His name Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). The first of the key events in the life of Christ is the humble beginning in a stable, when God came to be with us, born to set His people free and to save us from our sins.
"Why is the Virgin Birth so important?"
Answer: The doctrine of the virgin birth is crucially important (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27, 34). First, let’s look at how Scripture describes the event. In response to Mary’s question, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34), Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). The angel encourages Joseph to not fear marrying Mary with these words: “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Matthew states that the virgin “was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Galatians 4:4 also teaches the Virgin Birth: “God sent His Son, born of a woman.”
From these passages, it is certainly clear that Jesus’ birth was the result of the Holy Spirit working within Mary’s body. The immaterial (the Spirit) and the material (Mary’s womb) were both involved. Mary, of course, could not impregnate herself, and in that sense she was simply a “vessel.” Only God could perform the miracle of the Incarnation.
However, denying a physical connection between Mary and Jesus would imply that Jesus was not truly human. Scripture teaches that Jesus was fully human, with a physical body like ours. This He received from Mary. At the same time, Jesus was fully God, with an eternal, sinless nature (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14-17.)
Jesus was not born in sin; that is, He had no sin nature (Hebrews 7:26). It would seem that the sin nature is passed down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). The Virgin Birth circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and allowed the eternal God to become a perfect man