Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his’ parents went to Jerusalem every year at the fast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years’ old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast–Luk 2:40-42
Uneventful Years Need Not Be Unprofitable
One of the holiest doctors of the medieval church, who was placed by Dante among the saints of paradise, said a striking thing about the youth of Jesus. “Take notice,” he said, “that His doing nothing wonderful was itself a kind of wonder. As there is power in His actions, so is their power in His retirement and His silence.” When we read the false Gospels of the youth of Jesus, we meet with story after story of a miracle. Jesus makes clay sparrows and they fly away, or He puts out His hand and touches some plow that Joseph had made badly, and immediately it takes a perfect shape. But in our Gospels, there is nothing of all that. There is not a whisper of a boyish miracle. Jesus grew and waxed strong in a spirit filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him (Luk 2:40). Let us learn then that uneventful years need never be idle or unprofitable years. The still river in the secluded valley is gathering waters to bear a city’s commerce. Give me health and a day, said Emerson, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. Give Me, said Jesus, the quiet vale of Nazareth, and the blue sky and the blossoming of flowers, and David and Isaiah, and My village home and God, and I shall be well prepared for My great work.
One Event in Thirty Silent Years
Now out of these thirty silent years, one incident alone has been preserved, it is the story of Jesus in the Temple. We learn that when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem to keep the Passover. And how, when the feast was over, Mary and Joseph set out again for home, and how they missed their child and went to search for Him and found Him in the Temple with the doctors, all that we have known since our days of Sunday school. Now, why do you think this story has been preserved? Why should it rise, a solitary hilltop, out of the mist that hangs along the valley? It is worth a lot of pains to discover that.
Influence of the Journey to Jerusalem on Jesus.
First, then, let us try to realize them in the influence of this journey upon Jesus. It is always a very memorable hour when a lad for the first time leaves his village home. He has dreamed of the great world many a night, and now he is going to see it for himself. Hitherto his horizon has been bounded by the range of hills that encircles his quiet home. Now he is actually going to cross the barrier, and touch the mystery that lies beyond. There is a stirring of the heart in such an hour, a fresh conception of the greater world; a journey like that will do what a death does sometimes, it wakens the childish spirit to the mysteries. And the lad may come home again, and live with his father and mother, but the world can never more be quite the same. So when Jesus for the first time left His village, it was an ever-memorable day. From Nazareth to Jerusalem was some eighty miles, and almost every mile was rich in memory. Yonder was Shunem, where the woman’s son was raised. There was Gilboa, where Saul had perished. That curling smoke rose from the homes of Bethel. These walls and battlements were Jerusalem, at last. So all that Jesus had ever learned at Nazareth, and all that He had drunk in from His parents’ lips, thrilled Him and glowed in His young heart, and by the very glow, expanded it. And what with the growing crowds that joined their company, and what with the ever-changing scenery, the nature of the boy has so enkindled that old things passed away for Him. That is one reason why God preserved this incident, it was a momentous hour in the life of Jesus. Luke gives the story as a kind of picture to illustrate the truth that Jesus grew.
The Character of Jesus Is Revealed
Next note that in this incident the character of Jesus is revealed. For a boy of twelve reared in a quiet village, Jerusalem at Passover must have been paradise. A city has always a fascination for a lad, especially a crowded city on a holiday. What throngs there were! What pillars and stairs and castles! And at any corner might they not hear the tramp of a marching company of Roman soldiers, with glittering helmets and flashing pikes? Now tell me, did you ever hear of a lad who would leave the stir and the busy streets and the gallant soldiers, and steal away into the quiet Temple? Yet that is just what Jesus did, and it is an exquisite glimpse of His young heart. I dare say He heard the music of the trumpet and had a boyish pleasure in the crowd. But here was the Temple He had heard of so often at Nazareth, and here were the doctors who could answer all His questions. Many a time at home He had questioned Mary, and Mary had said: “Ah, child! I do not understand; it would take the Temple doctors to answer that.” And now the Temple doctors were beside Him, and Jesus forgot the crowds–forgot His parents–in His passionate eagerness to ask and know. No doubt when all the companies turned homeward, not a few children were missing besides Jesus. No doubt when the first evening fell, other mothers turned back to seek their boys. And one would find her child among the soldiers, and another would find her child in the bazaars. Mary alone found Jesus in the Temple. is it not a priceless glance into a spirit whose consuming passion was the things of God?
Jesus’ Dawning Sense of His Mission to the World
Lastly, this incident has been preserved because in it we have Jesus’ dawning sense of His mission to the world. The age of twelve was an important period for a Jewish boy; it was the time when he ceased to be a child, and in the letter of the law became a man. It was at twelve, according to the Jews, that Moses had left the house of Pharaoh’s daughter. It was at twelve that Samuel had been called. It was at twelve that King Josiah, of the tender heart, had launched forth in reform. But more important still, it was at twelve that a Jewish boy began to work; he was then apprenticed, if I may say so, to a trade. So Mary and Joseph, travelling to Jerusalem, would be much in talk about their Son’s career. They would often kneel on the grass by the roadside, and cry to the God of Abraham to guide them in choosing rightly for their beloved Boy. And here was the answer to their evening prayers–how different from all that they had dreamed!–“Wist Ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” How much that meant for Jesus we cannot tell. How far He had seen into the dark yet glorious future, we shall know better when we see Him face to face. But at least He was conscious that He stood apart, and felt, as the man had never felt before, the nearness and the glory of God’s Fatherhood, and knew that henceforward life was to be to Him an absolute devotion to His Father’s will. Then He went back with Mary and with Joseph and came to Nazareth and was subject unto them, but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.