Luke 2:40
And the Child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.
Sermons
A Bishop's Dream of Our Lord's ChildhoodArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 2:40
An Address to Children on the Child JesusDean Stanley.Luke 2:40
Apocryphal Stories of the InfancyGeorge Dawson.Luke 2:40
Childhood Disparaged by the AncientsDavid Swing.Luke 2:40
Christ Our Example in YouthD. Moore, M. A.Luke 2:40
God's Mode of Training MenCanon Westcott.Luke 2:40
Great Results from Secret ProcessesCanon Westcott.Luke 2:40
Growth Under Ordinary EventsCanon Westcott.Luke 2:40
Jerome's Love for the Child JesusArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 2:40
Jesus the Friend of ChildrenArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 2:40
No Abasement in GrowthSunday School TimesLuke 2:40
Our Lord's Early Years Upon EarthS. P. C. K. SermonsLuke 2:40
Religion in ChildhoodLuke 2:40
St. Edmund's Vision of the Child JesusArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 2:40
Superstitious Reverence of Christ's Person Guarded AgainsJames Thomson, D. D.Luke 2:40
The Child Jesus, a Pattern for ChildrenS. Cox, D. D.Luke 2:40
The Development of Christ Through the Influences of Outward NatureStopford A. Brooke, MA.Luke 2:40
The Early Development of JesusF. W. Robertson, M. A.Luke 2:40
The Growth of ChildrenH. C. Trumbull.Luke 2:40
The Holy Child JesusDean Goulburn.Luke 2:40
The Source of Christ's GrowthSunday School TimesLuke 2:40
Youthful Piety of ChristDean Goulburn.Luke 2:40
The Circumcision and Presentation of JesusR.M. Edgar Luke 2:21-40
First Sunday After EpiphanyJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Luke 2:39-52
Glimpses of the Divine ChildhoodE. Johnson, M. A.Luke 2:39-52
NazarethJ. Stalker, L. A.Luke 2:39-52
The Early Years of Christ T. D. Woolsey, D. D.Luke 2:39-52
The Life of JesusJ. C. Jones.Luke 2:39-52
The Personality of JesusPrincipal Fairbairn, D. D.Luke 2:39-52
The Training of Jesus ChristG. D. Boardman.Luke 2:39-52


From this interesting episode, without which the beautiful story of the infant Savior in the temple would hardly be complete, we learn -

I. THAT THERE IS ROOM IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST FOR THE SERVICE OF WOMAN-HOOD. It was well that the aged Simeon should bear his testimony to the birth of the Savior; it was also well that this aged and honorable prophetess should "likewise give thanks." Woman as well as man was to utter reverent joy on this supreme occasion. Woman, in the person of Anna, might well rejoice; for in the kingdom of Christ there is "neither male nor female;" all distinction of sex is unknown. Woman is as free to enter that kingdom as man; she may reach as high a position, by personal excellency, in it; she is as welcome to render holy service and fruitful testimony; is as certain to reap the reward of fidelity in the kingdom of heaven to which it leads. Women were the most faithful attendants on our Lord during his earthly ministry; they have been, since then, the most regular worshippers and the most devoted workers in his Church (see homily on Luke 8:2, 3).

II. THAT LONG LONELINESS MAY WELL BRING US INTO CLOSE COMMUNION WITH GOD. Anna had a very long widowhood (ver. 36), and in her loss of human fellowship she waited much on God. She "departed not from the temple, but served God... with prayers night and day." When denied one another's society, what can we do better than seek fellowship with our heavenly Father, with our Divine Friend? What, indeed, can we do so well? Communion with the Father of our spirits will bring healing to the wounded soul, will be companionship for the lonely hour, will promote sanctity and submissiveness of will, will remind us of those other children of his who need our sympathy and succor, and will send us forth blessing and blest on the errands of love.

III. THAT A VISION FROM GOD SHOULD RESULT IN PRAISE AND TESTIMONY. Anna "gave thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him [the infant Christ] to all," etc. Inspired of God, she recognized the long looked-for Messiah, and immediately she broke into praise, and forthwith began to communicate the joyful fact to all whom she could reach. This is the true order and the right procedure. When God reveals himself or his truth to us, we must first go to him in gratitude and praise, and must lose no time in passing on to others what he has entrusted to us.

IV. THAT AGE HAS ITS OFFERING TO BRING, as well as youth and prime. It is pleasant to think of the aged Anna, some way past four score, bent and feeble with the weight of years, speaking to "all them that looked," etc., and telling them that he whom they had waited for so long had come at last. A fair sight it is in the eyes of man, and surely in his also who estimates our service according to our ability (ch. 21:3), when those whose strength is well-nigh gone and who have earned their rest by long and faithful labor will not be persuaded to retire from the field, but labor on until the darkness of death arrests them.

V. THAT HOLY EXPECTATION WILL MEET WITH ITS FULFILMENT. There were many looking ("all of them," etc.) for redemption (ver. 38); and as they waited for God and upon him, their hearts' desires were granted. God may delay his answer for a while, even for a long while, but in due time it will come. The seeker will find; the worker will reap. - C.









And the Child grew, and waxed strong in spirit.
S. P. C. K. Sermons.
Notice a few things which are remarkable in our Lord's Childhood, and which are too often wanting in that of others.

1. His obedience to His earthly parents.

2. A childhood of privacy and seclusion. He was kept in the background, not paraded by His parents as an instance of precocious excellence or intellect. He drank in the pure breezes of heaven, and was in secret.

3. A genuine thirst for improvement (ver. 46, &c.). How unlike that raging appetite for mere amusement which begins in our days so early, and has turned the very literature of the young into a jest and plaything. What we seek is something to make us laugh, something which may present to us the ludicrous side of everything, and turn away from us the real and the sobering. What Christ sought at the age of twelve years was knowledge, and He sought that knowledge in the courts of His Father's house.

4. A spirit of docility. He sought knowledge even from men little qualified, indeed, to impart it, but who yet occupied the position to which it belonged to teach.

5. Christ's childhood was stamped with a sense of duty, and elevated by a lofty aim. A sense of His relation to God, of the meaning and responsibility of life, of a work to be done on God's earth in which He was Himself to be a fellow-worker with His Father — these motives had already dawned upon Him at that young age, and gave an unwonted seriousness to a childhood in all else so natural.

6. Notice the testimony which Christ's childhood bears to God's patience in working out His purposes; to what we may call the gradual character of God's works. "In due time" is written upon all of them.

7. Our Lord's early life was the consecration, for all time, of what are regarded, by way of distinction, as the more secular and the humbler callings.

(S. P. C. K. Sermons.)

Christ might have been made full-grown at once. Adam was, and our Lord is called "the last Adam," "the second man"; that is to say, Adam was a type or figure of Christ. One might have expected, therefore, that our Lord would be what Adam had been, a man sent into the world full-grown. Infancy, childhood, boyhood, are very humbling conditions. Why did Christ submit to them?

1. Our Lord's condescension is infinite, and therefore, in coming into the world, He desired to stoop as low as possible, in order to set us the more striking example of lowliness of mind. Therefore tie preferred, for His entrance into the world, the condition of an unconscious babe, and of a child dependent upon its parents, to that of a full-grown and independent man.

2. Our Lord, out of His infinite compassion for us, earnestly desired to sympathize with men in all their trials, and in every condition in which they can be placed, in eider that He might bless and comfort them by His sympathy. So He came in by the usual gate — infancy.

3. One can quite see this, that for a grown-up person never to have known childhood, a home, or a mother's care, would cut them off from all the most beautiful and tender associations of our nature. It makes a man tender, as no other thought can, to look back on his childhood and early home, on the strong interest which his parents used to take in him, and on the sacrifices which they were at all times ready to make for him. Now our Lord was to be infinitely tender, in order that He might attract the miserable and suffering to Himself; and He was to exhibit all the beauties and graces of which human nature is capable; and therefore it was that He willed to have a home of childhood, and to be dependent upon a mother's care, and to lisp His earliest prayers at a mother's knee, which is the way in which all of us first learn to pray. These experiences contributed to make His human soul tender.Concluding lessons:

1. Take to Him all your little troubles and trials in prayer, and assure yourselves that He is most ready to hear and help you. Why did He become a child, but to assure children of His sympathy with them?

2. Take Him for your example. Observe His love of God's house, His teachableness, His desire for instruction, His submission to His parents (while all the while He was their God), His growth in wisdom and in favour with God and man; and try to copy Him in these points.

3. Trust with all your heart in the goodness which He as a child exhibited, and which was perfect goodness, such as yours can never be. Only for the sake of that goodness of His will God forgive your faults.

(Dean Goulburn.)

"The Child grew." Of course the Child grew. Every child grows. There is not a child in the world who is not older to-day than he was yesterday, and who, if he lives, will not be older to-morrow than he is to-day. And whatever needs to be done for a child while he is young as now ought to be done to-day. He will have outgrown the possibility — if not the need — of such doing for him when to-morrow is here. Childhood is quickly lost. It is not to be regained. Unless it is improved as it passes, it is unimproved for ever. A child grows by night and by day, whether he is cared for or neglected. Oh, how soon the child has outgrown the possibilities of training in the nursery, of a mother's training, of a father's training, of a teacher's training! And when he has outgrown all these, who but God can reach him? If you would do your work for your child, you must do it now — or never, Have that in mind with your every breath; for with every breath your child is growing away from his plastic and impressible childhood.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

Sunday School Times.
There is no abasement in the fact that Jesus grew as any other boy grows. The apple of June is perfect as a June apple, though it has not come to its maturity. The acorn is perfect as an acorn, just as the oak is perfect as an oak. Jesus was a perfect Boy, as He was a perfect Man. If Jesus was content to grow slowly, should not we? The mushroom may spring up in a night; it is many a year before the sturdy oak attains its full growth.

(Sunday School Times.)

Sunday School Times.
When one sees a river flowing deep and strong through a parched country, as the Ganges in India, he becomes desirous of knowing something about its source. He follows it up, and finds that it comes from the cold hills of the north, issuing it may be, in full flood from beneath a glacier. So the source of Jesus' growth in spirit and wisdom is here told — "The grace of God was upon Him."

(Sunday School Times.)

There are three parts of our nature mentioned in the Bible — the body, the soul, the spirit. "The body" is what the animals have in common with us; it is the part of us in which we feel hunger, thirst, and weariness — the part which is fed by food cud rested by sleep. "The soul" means the feelings and affections; it is the part of us which feels pity for distress, fear of danger, anger at an insult, and so forth. "The spirit" is that higher part of our nature, which makes us reasonable beings; it is by the action of our spirit that we think of God, set Him before us, pray to Him, fear Him, worship Him. It is, then, a great thing to say of any child, and it could only be said of a good and holy child, that he "waxes strong in spirit." It means not that he becomes taller, nimbler, cleverer, but that his conscience becomes more and more formed as he grows up, his will more steady in doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, his prayers to God more earnest, his sense of God's presence more keen, his dread of sin stronger. Alas! it is the very opposite with children in general. Their conscience, which was once tender, becomes hardened as they get to know more; they soon shake off any dread of sin and the fear of God; their will weakly yields to temptation, until it becomes easy and natural to yield. And it is added, "He was filled with wisdom." The words imply that wisdom kept on flowing, like a running stream, into His human soul; there were, in His case, none of those thoughts of levity and folly, by which childhood is commonly marked. "And the grace of God" (meaning both the favour of God, and the precious influence of His Holy Spirit) "was upon Him." When the sun shines out upon the dewdrops that cover the tender grass of spring in the early morning, how beautiful is each spangled bead of dew, glistening with all the colours of the rainbow t Such was the childhood of the Holy Child! The dews of God's Spirit rested upon Him without measure. And the sunshine of God's favour beamed out upon Him, as "the Child of children," in whom — and in whom alone of all children that had ever been born — God the Father was well pleased. How early can a child love God, yearn towards God, hope in God, trust in God? I cannot say. Probably much earlier than we suppose. Do not the youngest infants stretch their tiny arms, and smile graciously when their mother comes into the room? They are not too young to show that they love and trust their parents; I do not know why it should be impossible for them to love and trust their heavenly Father, especially if He should give His grace to them "without measure," as was the case with our Lord. Perhaps you say, "It is impossible for a child in arms to understand or know anything about God." How can any one be sure of that? It was foretold of John the Baptist, that he should be "filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb"; and if this was the case with him, how much more must it have been the case with the Lord Jesus? Have you one single feeling of affection and trust towards your heavenly Father, as He had? Do you even wish to have some such feeling The wish is something, no, it is much; let it lead you to pray for the feeling, and in due time the feeling will come. If your earthly parents would deny you nothing that is good for you, which they had it in their power to give, "how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

(Dean Goulburn.)

These words, applied by St. Luke first to John the Baptist and then to our Lord, simply express an everyday occurrence — what we habitually take for granted as the natural course of things. This very fact — that they are so simple, so natural, so completely on the level of our common life — gives them the rich meaning that they possess for us. For they teach us that the Divine method of life is quite different from what we should expect; that each man may find in and about him, in his endowments and in his environments, just what he requires for the accomplishment of his work. We need not go from our proper place in order to discipline ourselves for God's service; we need not strive after gifts which He has not entrusted to us, or forms of action which are foreign to our position, in order to do our part as members of His Church. It is enough that we grow and wax strong under the action of those forces by which He moves us within and without, if we desire to fulfil, according to the measure of our powers, the charge which He has prepared for us. Thus it was that John the Baptist, the stern, bold preacher, grew up in the desert according to the angel's message — a lonely boy, a lonely youth, until the days of his showing unto Israel, communing only with the severest forms of nature and with the most awful thoughts of God. Thus it was that Jesus lived in the calm seclusion of a bright upland valley, in the Jewish fellowship of a holy home, subject to His parents and in favour with God and man, until His hour came. In that silent discipline of thirty years, there was no anxious anticipation of the future, no wistful lingering on the past; the past, used to the utmost, was the foundation of the future.

(Canon Westcott.)

We are always inclined to look for some joy or sorrow, as that which shall stir the energies of our souls; for some sharp sickness or bereavement, as that which shall make us trust more faithfully in God; for some blessing or deliverance, as that which shall bring us to love Him with tender devotion. But when these exceptional events happen, they do but reveal to us what we have already become; then, at length, when our eyes are opened, we see ourselves; then we know what we are; then we realize the value of little things, the abiding results of routine; then we marvel, it may be, to know assuredly that we despised Christ when He came to us in strange disguises; or it may be that we welcomed Him in the least of His little ones, or in the most insignificant of His workings. Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake and sleep, we grow and wax strong, or we grow and wax weak; at last some crisis shows us what we have become.

(Canon Westcott.)

The facts of the material world help us to feel the reality of this still and secret process which is the universal law of life. The ground on which we stand, the solid rocks which lie beneath it, are nothing but the accumulated results of the action of forces which we observe in action still. A few drops of rain gather on the hillside, and find an outlet down its slope; grain by grain a channel is fashioned, fresh rills add their waters to the flowing stream, and at last the runlet which a stone might have diverted from its course has grown into a river which no human force can stem. The sapling is planted on an open ridge, straight and vigorous; season after season the winds blow through its branches; it bends and bends and rises again, but with ever-lessening power; and when years have gone by, and the sapling has become a tree, its strange distorted shape bears witness to the final power of the force which at each moment it seemed able to overcome. And so it is with all of us. From small beginnings flow the currents of our lives, from constant and unnoticed impulses we take our bias; the stream is ever gathering strength; the bend is ever being confirmed or corrected. At any time of this life, our character is represented by the sum of our past lives. There is not one act, not one purpose, which does not leave its trace, though we may be unable to distinguish and measure its value. There is not one drop which does not add something to the flowing river, not one branch which does not in some way shape the rising tree. The appointed duty, heartily or carelessly gone through, makes us weaker for the next effort. The unkind word spoken, or the kind word not spoken, makes us less tender when our love is next needed; the evil thing done, or the evil thought cherished, makes a vantage-ground for the tempter when he next assails us. The prayer neglected, or said with the lips only, makes it harder for us to seek God when we next desire to find Him. The Communion superstitiously slighted, or superstitiously frequented, makes it more and more difficult for us to see life transfigured by the brightness of a Divine presence. In this way it is that we grow and wax weak, happy only if some day of reckoning startles us by the sense of our loss, and if we are constrained to offer to God in the humblest spirit what remains. And, on the other hand, every faithful answer to the least claim upon our service, every manful contest for the right, every painful struggle with self-indulgence, every sore temptation met in the name and strength of Christ, every striving towards God in prayer and praise, is fruitful for the future — fruitful in self-sacrifice, in courage, in endurance, in the joy of Divine fellowship.

(Canon Westcott.)

In those brief sketches of Christ which are called the Gospels, eighteen years of experience are wholly wanting. The best explanation of the omission is, that in that epoch, and in almost all past periods, child life was not a matter of importance. It did not enter largely into literature, nor into the category of the great things of the world. In some nations the death-day rather than the birthday was celebrated, because the latter period was associated with fame or learning or some other form of merit, while the birthday enjoyed no association of worth — it was only the period of all shapes of weakness. In the most of the ancient philosophies the reasonable soul did not come to the body until it was about twenty years old. According to one of the old Rabbis a man was free at twelve, might marry at eighteen or twenty, should acquire property until he was thirty, then intellectual strength should come, and at forty the profoundest wisdom should appear. Amid just what opinions of this nature the youth of Jesus was spent is not known, but at least this is true that He lived in an era when early life seemed to possess but small worth, and no scholar or biographer encumbered with such details his record or oration or poem. Not only do we know little about the early life of Jesus, but the early years of Caesar, and Virgil, and Cicero, and Tacitus lie equally withdrawn from the public gaze. Old biographies make their first chapter out of the actual beginnings of the public service.

(David Swing.)

The Child Jesus grew. He did not stand still. Although it was God Himself who was revealed to us in the life of Jesus Christ, yet this did not prevent Him from being made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. And so in all things He is an example for us to imitate. Each one, whether old or young, must remember that progress, improvement, going on, advance, change into something better and better, wiser and wiser, year by year, is the only way of becoming like Christ, and therefore like God. The world moves, and you and all of us must move with it. God calls us all ever to something higher and higher, and that higher stage we must reach by steadily advancing towards it. There are three things especially which the text puts before us as those in which our Lord's earthly education, in which the advance and improvement of His earthly character, added to His youthful and childlike powers.

1. Strength of character. Christ waxed strong in spirit. What we all want is a stout heart to resist temptation, a strong hardy conscience which fixes itself on matters of real importance and will not trifle or waste its powers on things of no concern. We must earnestly seek this strength. It comes to those who strive after it.

2. Wisdom. To gain this — to have your mind opened, to take in all that your teachers can pour into it — you are sent to school. You need not be old before your time, but you must even now be making the best use of your time. These are the golden days which never come back to you, which if once lost can never be entirely made up. Seek, therefore, for wisdom, pray for it, determine to have it, and God who gives to those who ask for it, will give it to you. Try to gain it, as our Lord gained it when He was a child, by hearing and by asking questions, i.e.,

(a)by being teachable, humble, modest, and fixing your attention on what you have to learn;

(b)by trying to know the meaning of what you learn, by cross-questioning yourselves, by inquiring right and left to fill up the blanks in your mind.

3. The grace or favour of God, or, as it says in ver. 52, the favour of God and man. Our Lord possessed God's favour always, but even in Him it increased more and more. It increased as He grew older, as He saw more and more of the work which was given Him to do; He felt more and more that God was His Father, and that men were His brothers, and that grace and loving-kindness was the best and dearest gift from God to man, and from man to man, and from man to God. He was subject to His parents. He did what they told Him; and so He became dear to them. He was kind, and gentle, and courteous to those about Him, so that they always liked to see Him when He came in and out amongst them. So may it be with you. Look upon God as your dear Father in heaven, who loves you, and who wishes nothing but your happiness. Look upon your schoolfellows and companions as brothers, to whom you must show whatever kindness and forbearance you can. Just as this beautiful building in which we are assembled is made up of a number of small stones beautifully carved, every one of which helps to make up the grace and beauty of the whole, so is all the state of the world made up of the graces and goodnesses not only of full-grown men and women, but of little children who will be, if they live, full-grown one day.

(Dean Stanley.)

1. The Child Jesus was diligent scholar. He did not "hate" to go to school. He did not neglect His tasks, or slur them over anyhow, or think, as perhaps some of you think, that getting out of school was the best part of the whole business. We might be quite sure that He diligently attended to the wise Rabbis who asked and answered questions, who uttered so many wise and witty proverbs, and told so many pretty stories, if only because He Himself was, in after years, so wise in asking and answering questions, and spoke so many proverbs and parables which the world will never let die. But we can do more and better than merely infer what a good scholar He was. We can see Him while He was yet a lad, going to school of His own accord, and staying in it when He might have been climbing the hills or running through the fields with His friends (vers. 41-46).

2. This good scholar was also a good son. The Hebrew boys of our Lord's time were very well bred. They were taught good manners as well as good morals. They were enjoined, both by their parents and their masters, to salute every one they met in the street, to say to him "Peace be with thee." To break this rule of courtesy, they were told, was as wrong as to steal. And the Boy Jesus was well brought up, and was full of courtesy, kindness, goodwill; for not only did He grow in favour with men in general, but He had a large circle of kinsfolk and friends who loved Him and were glad to have Him with them (ver. 44). We know, too, that He had never grieved His parents before, in His eagerness to learn, he let them go on their way home without Him. For when they had found Him in the Temple, they were so astonished that He should have given them the pain of seeking Him sorrowfully, that they cannot blame Him as for a fault, but can only ask Him why He had treated them thus. He must indeed have been a good son to whom His mother could speak as Mary spoke to Jesus.

3. He was also a good child of God. Always "about His Father's business" — feeling that He must be about it, wherever He went, whatever He did. The one great thing He had to do, the one thing which above all others He tried to do, was to serve God His Father; not simply to become wise, and still less to please Himself, but to please God by growing wise in the knowledge and obedience of His commandments.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

t: — After informing us that Jesus was filled with wisdom, the evangelist adds, that the grace of God was upon Him. Now as the grace of God is not said to have been in but upon Him, it seems intended to express something not internal, but obvious to the senses. Hence it has been supposed that here the grace of God denotes a Divine gracefulness. In confirmation of this opinion it has been said, that in several passages there are allusions to something highly graceful, dignified, and impressive in His manner. Thus, the officers of the chief priest declared that never man spake like this man; and even the inhabitants of Nazareth were delighted at first with the words full of grace which He uttered. It is particularly to be remarked, however, that neither in the four Gospels, nor in any of the other books of the New Testament, has any description been given of the personal appearance of our Saviour. There is not, indeed, to be found the slightest allusion to the subject. Yet, of the founder of every other religion, whether true or false, some description, however concise, has been preserved. Thus, we are told that Moses, when a child, was extremely beautiful. Tim followers of Mahomet have described their pretended prophet in a minute manner; and the persons of most of the eminent sages of antiquity have been delineated by their disciples. But of the external appearance of Jesus no record is left. Why this singular omission? Were not the apostles of Jesus attached to their Master? Yes: their attachment was stronger and more disinterested than the world ever witnessed, for they suffered everything and sacrificed everything for His sake. But the omissions of inspired writers are never to be ascribed to oversight, but to the design of an over-ruling Providence. Nothing, therefore, was to be inserted in the Sacred Records concerning Jesus which might lead to a superstitious veneration of His person, and thus draw away the attention of His followers from His sublime doctrines and precepts, and the perfection of His character.

(James Thomson, D. D.)

The Ebionites thought the natural humanity of our Saviour's early life unworthy of a Divine person, and denied His essential divinity. To them, Christ was, till His baptism, a common man. It was at His baptism that He received from God, as an external gift, the consciousness of His Divine mission and special powers for it. We, however, do not hold the necessary unworthiness of human nature as a habitation of the Divine. We hold, with the old writer, that man is "the image of God." Hence instead of looking upon Christ's youth and childhood and His common life as derogatory to His glory, we see in them the glorification of all human thought and action in every stage of life. The whole of humanity is penetrated by the Divine. This is the foundation-stone of the gospel of Christ. On it rest all the great doctrines of Christianity, on it reposes all the noble practise of Christian men, and we call it the Incarnation. But this re-uniting of the divinity and humanity took place in time, and under the limitations which are now imposed upon humanity. The Divine Word was self-limited on its entrance our into nature, in some such sense as our spirit and thought are limited by union with body. Consequently, we should argue that there was a gradual development of the person of Christ; and this conclusion, which we come to a priori, is supported by the narrative in the Gospels. We are told that Jesus "increased in wisdom," that He "waxed strong in spirit," that He "learned obedience," that He was "made perfect through suffering." This is our subject — the development of Christ. And, first, we are met with a difficulty. The idea of development seems to imply imperfections passing into perfection — seems to exclude the idea of original perfection. But there are two conceivable ideas of development; one, development through antagonism, through error, from stage to stage of less and less deficiency. This is our development; but it is such because evil has gained a lodgment in our nature, and we can only attain perfection through contest with it. But there is another kind of development conceivable, the development of a perfect nature limited by time. The plant is perfect as the green shoot above the earth — it is all it can be then; it is more perfect as the creature adorned with leaves and branches, and it is all it can be then; it reaches its full perfection when the blossom breaks into flower. Such was the development of Christ. He was the perfect child, the perfect boy, the perfect youth, the perfect flower of manhood. A second illustration may make the matter clearer. The work of an inferior artist arrives at a certain amount of perfection through a series of failures, which teach him where he is wrong. Such is our development. The work of a man of genius is very different. He has seen, before he touches pencil, the finished picture. His first sketch contains the germ of all. His work is perfect in its several stages. Such was Christ's development — an orderly, faultless, unbroken development, in which humanity, freed from its unnatural companion, evil, went forward according to its real nature. It was the restoration of humanity to its original integrity, to itself, as it existed in the idea of God. Think, then, of His development through the influence of outward nature. From the summit of the hill in whose bosom Nazareth lay, there sweeps one of the widest and most varied landscapes to be seen in Palestine. It is impossible to over-estimate the influence which this changing scene of beauty had upon the mind of the Saviour as a child. The Hebrew feeling for nature was deep and extended. By care, then, alone, the Child Jesus was prepared to feel the most delicate shades of change in the aspect of outward nature. But as He was not only Hebrew but the type of pure humanity, we may, without attributing to Him anything unnatural to childhood, impute to Him the nobler feelings which are stirred in the Western and Northern races by the modes of natural beauty.

(Stopford A. Brooke, MA.)

I. "The Child grew." Two pregnant facts, lie was a child, and a child that grew in heart, in intellect, in size, in grace, in favour with God. Not a man in child's years. No hotbed precocity marked the holiest of infancies. The Son of Man grew up in the quiet valley of existence — in shadow, not in sunshine, not forced.

II. This growth took place in three particulars —

1. In spiritual strength. I instance one single evidence of strength in the early years of Jesus: I find it in that calm, long waiting of thirty years before He began His work.

2. In wisdom. Distinguish wisdom from(1) information,(2) talent. Love is required for wisdom — the love which opens the heart and makes it generous. Speaking humanly, the steps by which the wisdom of Jesus was acquired were two —(a) The habit of inquiry.(b) The collision of mind with mind. Both these we find in this anecdote: His parents found Him with the doctors in the Temple, both hearing and asking them questions.

3. In grace. And this in three points —(1) The exchange of an earthly for a heavenly home. "My Father's business," "My Father's house."(2) Of an earthly for a heavenly parent.(3) The reconciliation of domestic duties (ver. 51).

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

The Holy Spirit of God must have touched Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with the spirit of "selection," which saved them from such miracle-mongering. For Christ — the Christ that I adore — rises above these pitiful tales.

(George Dawson.)

There was once — as Luther tells us — a pious, godly bishop who had often earnestly prayed that God would show him what Jesus was like in His youth. Now once the bishop had a dream, and in his dream he saw a poor carpenter working at his trade, and beside him a little boy gathering up chips. Then came in a maiden clothed in green, who called them both to come to the meal, and set bread and milk before them. All this the bishop seemed to see in his dream, standing behind the door that he might not be seen. Then the little boy began and said, "Why does that man stand there? Will he not come in also, and eat with us?" And this so frightened the bishop that he woke. But he need not have been frightened, for does not Jesus say, "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me." And whether the dream be true or not, we know that Jesus in His childhood and youth looked and acted like other children, "in fashion like a man," "yet without sin."

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

There was once a boy whose name was Edmund Rich, and who is called St. Edmund of Canterbury; and his brother tells us that once, when, at the age of twelve, he had gone into the fields from the boisterous play of his companions, he thought that the Child Jesus appeared unto him, and said, "Hail, beloved one!" And he, wondering at the beautiful child, said, "Who art Thou, for certainly thou art unknown to me?" And the Child Jesus said, "How comes it that I am unknown to thee, seeing that I sit by thy side at school, and wherever thou art, there do I go with thee? Look on My forehead, and see what is there written." And Edmund looked, and saw the name "Jesus." "This is my name," said the child; "write it on thy heart and it shall protect thee from evil." Then He disappeared, on whom the angels desire to look, leaving the little boy Edmund with passing sweetness in his heart.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

There lived, fifteen hundred years ago, a saint whose name was Jerome, and he loved so much the thought of the Child Christ, that he left Rome, and went and lived for thirty long years in a cave at Bethlehem, close by the cavern-stable in which Christ was born. And when men wished to invite him by earthly honours to work elsewhere, he said, "Take me not away from the cradle where my Lord was laid. Nowhere can I be happier than there. There do I often talk with the Child Jesus, and say to Him, 'Ah, Lord I how can I repay Thee?' And the Child answers, 'I need nothing. Only sing thou Glory to God, and peace on earth."' And when I say, 'Nay I but I must yield Thee something'; the Holy Child replies, 'Thy silver and thy gold I need not. Give them to the poor. Give his only thy sins to be forgiven.' And then do I begin to weep and say, 'Oh, Thou blessed Child Jesus, take what is mine, and give me what is Thine!'" Now in this way, by the eye of faith, you may all see the Child Jesus, and unseen, yet ever near, you may feel His presence, and He may sit by your side at school, and be with you all day to keep you from harm, and to drive away bad thoughts and naughty tempers, and send His angels to watch over you when you sleep.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

Once there was carried into a great hospital a poor little ragged miserable boy, who had been run over in the streets and dreadfully hurt. And all night he kept crying and groaning in his great pain? and at last a good youth, who lay in the bed next to him, said, "My poor little fellow, won't you pray to Jesus to ease your pain? "But the little wretched sufferer had never heard anything at all about Jesus, and asked who Jesus was. And the youth gently told him that Jesus was Lord of all, and that He had come down to die for us. And the boy answered, "Oh, I can't pray to Him, He's so great and grand, and He would never hear a poor street-boy like me; and I don't know how to speak to Him." "Then," said the youth, "won't you just lift your hand to Him out of bed, and when He passes by He will see it, and will know that you want Him to be kind to you, and to ease your pain?" And the poor, crushed, suffering boy lifted out of the bed his little brown hand, and soon afterwards he ceased to groan; and when they came to him in the morning the hand and the poor thin arm. were still uplifted, but they were stiff and cold; for Jesus had indeed seen it, and heard that mute prayer of the agony of that strayed lamb of His fold, and He had grasped the little, soiled, trembling hand of the sufferer, and had taken him away to that better, happier home, where He will love also to make room for you and me, if we seek Him with all our hearts, and try to do His will.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

— "I can never," said the late Rev. George Burder, "forget my birthday, June 5, 1762. It was on a Sabbath; and after tea, and before family worship, my father was accustomed to catechize me, and examine what I remembered of the sermons of the day. That evening he talked to me very affectionately, and reminded me that it was high time I began to seek the Lord, and to become truly religious. He particularly insisted upon the necessity of an interest in Christ Jesus, and showed me that, as a sinner, I must perish without it, and recommended me to begin that night to pray for it. After family worship, when my father and mother used to retire to their closets for private devotion, I also went to my chamber, the same room in which I was born, and then, I trust, sincerely and earnestly, and, as far as I can recollect, for the first time poured out my soul to God, beseeching Him to give me an interest in Christ, and desiring, above all things, to be found in Him. I am now an old man, but reflecting on that evening, I have often been ready to conclude, that surely I was then, though a little child, brought to believe in Christ."

In what respects, then, is the youth of CHRIST AN EXAMPLE TO US

1. First, it is an example to us of personal piety, and that from our earliest years. "The grace of God was upon Him," is the evangelist's expression in our text; whilst, a few verses lower down, we have him saying, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."

2. Again, in the youth of Christ we have an example of diligence in the use of means for our mental progress and improvement. "He was filled with wisdom," says our text. And after His Visit to the Temple, it is said again, "He increased in wisdom." The youth of Christ, then, we consider, may fairly be cited as furnishing us with an example of the dignity, and value, and importance of intellectual culture.

3. We note next that Christ in His youth was an example of reverent submission to parental authority. "And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them."

4. Further, Christ in His youth is an example to us of the duty of a heartfelt and entire consecration of ourselves to the Divine service. "Must ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" was the question of the Holy One to His parents, when they found Him in the Temple.

5. Once more, Christ in His youth is an example to us of patient and contented acquiescence in our providential lot however adverse, however obscure, however disappointing to the expectations which our friends may have formed for us, or which we, in our foolish pride, may be tempted to form for ourselves.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

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