Luke 2:44


We now proceed to the solitary circumstance in the Child-life of Jesus which is given in the Gospels. He had been growing for twelve years in strength and in spirit, and the Lord loved him. The Child in Nazareth redeemed in God's eyes all the world. It was the one absorbing interest in the Divine outlook upon our race. And now he is taken by his pious parents to the Passover Feast in Jerusalem. It is his second visit to the temple; this time he comes himself; the first time, as we have seen, he was presented. The following points deserve attention in this narrative.

I. THE PARENTAL CARE EXERCISED OVER JESUS. The pious pair, Joseph and Mary, went, as we are told, every year to Jerusalem to the Passover. And they had given the holy Child committed to their charge such advantages as Nazareth afforded. The home school especially, not to speak of synagogue services, to which he was doubtless regularly taken, evidenced their interest in the welfare of the Child. No sooner, therefore, has he reached the age of twelve, at which time little ones were deemed able to become "children of the Law," than he is taken up by them to see the Passover at Jerusalem. Their pious, consistent life was an excellent preparation for the solemnities of the great feast. Jesus came face to face with the ceremonies after experiencing most tender home care. And the history before us affords ample evidence of the parental consideration. If it was not perfect parental care, this is only to allow that neither Joseph nor Mary was sinless. Indeed, one of the German preachers bases an admirable discourse on parental duty upon this history, finding in it six separate hints upon it. But let us pause a moment over the care with which they must have explained to him all the ritual. Doubtless he saw more in it than they did, but he must have received gratefully their help in the circumstances. To them the Passover spoke of a great deliverance afforded to their fathers; to him it spoke of a great sacrifice yet to come. His insight must have been a deeper thing than they could then appreciate. And now let us pass to the oversight of which the parents were guilty. Their care was great, but it was not absolutely perfect. In the bustle of preparation for the home-going, the parents started with the caravan under the impression that he must be in the company of the boys who were in considerable numbers attached to the procession. They' should have made sure, and not left such a Child to the chances of travelling. We have no right to impute the separation of Jesus from his parents to any lack of dutifulness on his part, but solely to an oversight on theirs. What were all their bits of baggage and their acquaintances in comparison with the safe custody of "the holy Child"? And in consistency with this view, it has been suggested that underneath Mary's apparent expostulation and reproof there is a latent confession of her fault, which she and Joseph tried to atone for in their diligent search for the missing Boy.

II. THE LONELY BOY TURNED INSTINCTIVELY TO THE TEMPLE. The seven days of the Passover Feast had been a rare feast to Jesus. The priests and ritual and all the varied life which thronged the temple court must have been a revelation to him. He brought the consciousness of a Jew instructed in the Law to bear upon the temple and its services. We must look into his mind through the Old Testament. We there find the idea of God's Fatherhood in relation to his people several times referred to (Deuteronomy 14:1, 2; Hosea 11:1; Jeremiah 31:9, 20; Psalm 103:13, etc.). To the little thoughtful Boy, therefore, the temple was regarded as the home of him who was a Father to all who trusted in him. And this general idea of fatherhood became specialized in his deep, reverential musings, and he could not but feel towards God as no Jew had ever felt before. Whether he had as a Child the further revelation yet made to him of his peculiar relation to God as the Only Begotten, or reached this in the progress of the years, is what we cannot be certain of. At all events, the temple was the Father's house. To it the lonely Lad turned. He felt drawn to God irresistibly, now that his earthly guardians had gone away. "When father and mother forsake me," he could say, "the Lord will take me up." The orphan Child, so to speak, turned to the temple, as to his real home.

III. HE BECAME A HOLY LEARNER THERE. Not only was the temple the scene of the sacrifices; it was also the place of learning for those interested in the Law. Schools were established within the sacred precincts where the scribes discoursed to such pupils as chose to sit at their feet. The method seems to have been by dialogue - the question and answer which once were so prized. Here the Boy believed he would get light about the will of the great Father who dwelt there, and who had given his people the Law. As a faithful Son, he wished to get all possible light about his Father's business, and so he frequented the schools. He was a "model catechumen," as a suggestive writer on this whole passage calls him. Although he must have seen through the shallowness of some of his teachers, and had doubtless deeper insight than any, he was content to sit at their feet and get all the good from them he could. It was an instance, surely, of great diligence in embracing every opportunity of improvement which came his way. He wanted to learn all he could while he had the chance. And most naturally did his answers and questions astonish the doctors. They had never had such an apt scholar before. His insight led them along lines they never had traveled hitherto. And as for the Father's business, it at least embraces such elements as these:

1. The understanding of the terms of access to his presence. The significance of the ritual which was celebrated in the temple, the meaning of sacrifice, of bloodshedding, of incense, and of approach by the appointed priests into the Divine presence, - all this belonged to the Father's business.

2. The understanding of the meaning of his commandments. The Law as the expression of the Father's will, and read consequently in the light of love.

3. How far the knowledge of the Father was to be extended. The kingdom of God in its universal range, as distinct from a narrow nationality, - this was part of the Father's business. Hence the lingering of the holy Learner about the temple schools. His apt answers would procure him lodging and food during the season of separation his parents. Having put God first, all these things were added unto him (Matthew from Matthew 6:33).

IV. HIS RECOVERY BY THE ANXIOUS MOTHER. Joseph and Mary, on discovering at the end of the first day's march the absence of the Child, set out for Jerusalem to find him. They doubtless inquire all the way back, and then they go hither and thither through the city, and at last think of the temple. There, in the midst of the doctors, he is found and recovered by Mary. Her words are apparent rebuke, but really confession upon her part of the oversight. She had never before had any reason for fault-finding; it comes all the more surprisingly upon her now. Jesus defends himself on the ground that he was looking after his Father's business. In other words, he insists on putting God first, before Mary or Joseph. We get an insight into what godliness is. It means making God's business supreme. God claims first place, and this is what the Boy Jesus gave him. The Revised Version translates the words," Wist ye not that I must be in my Father's house?" This would simply refer to their folly in not first seeking him there. The Authorized Version is as near the Greek, and of wider import. But Mary and Joseph did not understand his meaning. These are the first recorded words of Jesus; and how they harmonize with the last, when on the cross he said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit"!

V. HIS OBEDIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT. He has got all the doctors can meanwhile give to him. It would not have been profitable for him to have remained longer in their schools, and to have merely witnessed their powers of disputation. He is to have collision with them soon enough. Besides, he will be safer out of their reach in the quiet of the northern home. And so he recognizes in his mother's call the voice of his Father in heaven, and in the privacy of Nazareth his Father's business. He has to wait as well as work. Hence without a murmur he goes away with them and is subject unto them. But this subjection and reverence did not hinder, but really helped, his development. "He increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." As a person under parental authority, he found his reward in wisdom, and became beloved of all around him as well as of the Lord above. It was a beautiful example to set us of being subject under God to parents and superiors. His growth in wisdom was also so considerate. He would take wisdom as others have to get it, gradually, and pass from the known to the knowledge of the unknown. And God's favor will rest as well as man's favor upon all who follow in the footsteps of his Divine Son in this beautiful subjection. There is no truth more important at the present time than this of realizing our development in due subjection. - R.M.E.









And they sought Him among their kinsfolk.
It seems scarcely credible that that fond mother — that model of what a mother ought to be — could have gone a whole day's journey without Jesus; but she did. And one can understand too how she fell into this error. She had a great many things to think about. She had been meeting a good many friends at the feast. Those were stirring times. People had been coming up from all parts of Judaea and Galilee with tidings of an upheaving in the minds of the people and a general expectation was pervading the whale population; a hope of approaching liberty; a desire to break the tyrant thrall of Rome. So, doubtless, there was a good deal to talk about, and no doubt the Virgin Mary was deeply interested in what she heard. Joseph, too, would have a good deal to communicate to those with whom he came in contact. So they wore very busy, and very interested; and in their business and in their thronging interest they forgot the absence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they went for a whole day's journey concluding that He was with them when He was net. Let us ask ourselves, "How is it that Christians lose the sense of the fellowship of Jesus?" What are the dangers we have most to guard against in this respect?

I. The danger arising from INTERCOURSE WITH OUR FELLOW-MEN.

II. The danger arising from GOSSIPING CONVERSATION. I do not for a moment mean to charge this against the blessed mother of our Lord. At the same time, the circumstances of the case suggest such a possibility, and the possibility suggests a lesson to ourselves.

III. The danger of losing the consciousness of the presence of Christ IN RELIGIOUS INTERCOURSE, is a danger, I believe, that specially belongs to this day.

IV. The danger OF LOSING CHRIST IN HIS SERVICE. Work for Christ has its own peculiar dangers.

(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

"Supposing Him to have been of the company" — what a pity they did not make sure! Have we got beyond a slow uncertain, "I hope," "I suppose Jesus is with me"? If you must suppose, suppose He is not with you. Suppose there is no home and no welcome for you at the journeys end? Of whatever else you may be uncertain, be sure about this. Where did they lose Him? Not in Nazareth, but in the city. It is sadly easy to lose Christ in a great city with all its pleasures and blandishments. This city is the sepulchre of many a young man's piety, the end of many a parent's hopes. Jesus is lost since you came to the city, and you are likely to be lost too, unless you find Him again. They lost Him at a feast. Where the company of Jesus is put in peril stop from the feast. They lost Him in a crowd. How many miss Jesus in the noise and bustle! Be resolute to have your quiet hours. Seek first the kingdom of heaven. But they turned back and sought Him. Jesus is lost and Jesus must be found. Have you sought Him? Like Joseph and Mary, your way lies in another direction. Break away from everything. Go after Jesus until you find Him.

(J. Jackson Wray.)

I. THIS WAS A MOST NATURAL SUPPOSITION.

1. Christ's parents did not expect to find Him wandering alone. He loved society. Jesus was not one whose company would be shunned because of His ill-manners; rather would it be courted because of the sweetness of His disposition. He would not make Himself disagreeable, and then crown that disagreeableness by stealing away from those whom He had vexed. They knew the sweetness of their dear child's character and the sociableness of His disposition, and, therefore, they supposed Him to have been in the company.

2. They never suspected that He would be found in any wrong place. We never look for Jesus where a question of morals might be raised, for He is undefiled. Let His example be followed by all in this.

II. THIS SUPPOSITION BROUGHT THEM GREAT SORROW. From this I gather that, with regard to the Lord Jesus, we ought to leave nothing as a matter of supposition. Do not suppose anything about Jesus at all. Do not suppose anything about His character, His doctrine, or His work; go in for certainty on such points.

1. Do not suppose Him to be in your hearts. Outward ceremonies convey no grace to graceless persons.

2. Do not ever suppose that Christ is in our assemblies because we meet in this house. Christ is not present where He is not honoured. All your architecture, music, learning, eloquence, are of small account; Jesus may be absent when all these things are present in profusion, and then your public worship will only be the magnificent funeral of religion, but the life of God will be far away. Our question every Sunday morning ought to be, "What think ye; will He come to the feast?" for if He does not come to the feast it will be the mockery of a festival, but no bread will be on the table for hungry souls.

3. Let us not take it for granted that the Lord Jesus is necessarily with us in our Christian labours. Do we not too often go out to do good without special prayer, imagining that Jesus must surely be with us as a matter of course? Perhaps we thus conclude because He has been with us so long, or because we feel ourselves fully equipped for the occasion, or because we do not even think whether He is with us or not. This is perilous. If Jesus is not with us, we toil all the night and take nothing; but if Jesus is with us, He teaches us how to cast the net, and a great multitude of fishes are taken.

III. THE SUPPOSITION made by these two good people MAY INSTRUCT US. This is for the children. Jesus is here an example to them, for He was at this time a child. Suppose He had been in the company returning to Nazareth? How would He have behaved Himself?

1. I am sure when the whole company sang a psalm, He would have been among the sweetest singers. No inattention or weariness in Him when God was to be praised.

2. I feel persuaded that Jesus would have been found in that company listening to those who talked of holy things. Especially would He have been eager to hear explanations of what He had seen in the Temple. He would have been anxious to share with the grown-up people all the solemn thoughts of the day.

3. I feel sure also that if He had been in the company going home, He would have been the most obliging, helpful, pleasing child in all the company; if anybody had needed to have a burden carried, He would have been the first to offer; if any kindly deed could be done, He would be first in doing it.

IV. SUPPOSING HIM TO BE IN OUR COMPANY IN ALL HIS GRACIOUS INFLUENCE, what then?

1. How happy will such company be!

2. How united His people will all become!

3. How holy they will all grow! How teachable; how lively I how earnest; how confident.

V. JESUS HAS BEEN IN THE COMPANY, WHETHER WE HAVE SEEN HIM OR NOT.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Every child is a treasure to the heart of an affectionate parent; but the Holy Child Jesus must have been so sacred and precious a treasure to His mother and her husband that one wonders how they could ever have lost sight of Him. Perhaps it may have happened in this way: when they were about to return, they would doubtless give Him notice that they were going home, and would expect Him to follow. But, in the hurry of packing and starting, they would necessarily take their eyes off from Him for some time, and then He would find His opportunity to withdraw to the Temple. It must be remembered that hundreds of other pilgrims would be on the move homeward at the same moment. All those who lived north of Jerusalem, forming an immense caravan, would start with Joseph and Mary, and go by the same road. This would create great confusion; and, amidst a general lading of mules and asses and a general preparation for the day's journey, a single child might be easily missed. Moreover, we are told by some writers that it was the custom in these pilgrimages for all the men to travel in one company by themselves, and all the women in another, the boys travelling, as it might happen, either with their father or their mother. If this was the case, it is easy to understand how neither our Lord's mother nor her husband were made uneasy by missing Him. St. Joseph would say, "He is with His mother, no doubt"; and the blessed Virgin would say, "Doubtless Joseph is taking care of Him."

(Dean Goulburn.)

Some years ago an institution for the blind was erected in one of our large towns. The committee put their wise heads together, and decided that as the building was for the blind, for those who could not see — there was only waste of money and no reason in going to the expense of windows. Scientific ventilation and heating was provided, but no windows, because — as the committee very logically put it — it was no use in the world providing light for those who cannot see it. Accordingly, the new Blind Asylum was inaugurated and opened, and the poor sightless patients settled into the house. Things did not go well with them, however. They began to sicken, one after another; a great languor fell on them, they felt always distressed and restless, craving for something, they hardly knew what; and after one or two had died, and all were ill, the committee sat on the matter, and resolved to open windows. Then the sun poured in, and the white faces recovered colour, and the flagging vital energies revived, the depressed spirits recovered, and health and rest returned. I think this is not unlike the condition of a vast number of people. Christ Jesus is the Sun of the soul, the Light of the world. It is He who gives health and rest to the heart, and fills the soul with that peace which passes man's understanding. But there are a good number who, in their wisdom, think they can do without Him; they are the wise committee men sitting on their own case, and building up walls to shut them. selves in and shut Him out. They cannot see Jesus, the light of the world; therefore, they can live without Him. Have you ever noticed what an expression of peace there is on the faces of those whose walk is with God, as contrasted with the unrest that characterizes the faces of those living without God in the world — not necessarily bad people, but living chiefly for the world, in a windowless asylum of their own construction.

I. A great number who do not realize their unrest. So engrossed in daily work, so full of hopes and schemes, they can think of nothing else. Fond of the bustle and excitement of active life. DO not know they are travelling along the road of life without Christ; do not as yet feel their loss and need of Him.

II. They become uneasy. Becoming aware that all is not quite right, they look for what they want in the wrong place. They seek distraction, when it is rest they need, and pleasure instead of peace. Then they give themselves up to tittle-tattle with kinsfolk and acquaintance, and try to find happiness in society. But it will not do. Jesus Christ is not there, and it is He they need.

III. The last stage is not taken by all; it is well for those who do take it. Christ is found in the Temple. Enthroned on His altar, made known in the breaking of the bread, He waits to enter into, refresh, strengthen, and give perfect peace to the hungry soul, weary with the unsatisfying food of the world.

(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)

I. WHERE CHRIST WAS LOST.

1. In the city.

2. At a feast.

3. In a crowd.

II. How AND WHERE HE WAS SOUGHT.

1. Immediately the loss was realized.

2. Sorrowfully.

3. In the Temple.

4. With perseverance and continuity.

III. HOW THIS SEARCH WAS REWARDED.

1. Christ was found.

2. Christ spoke Divine words to His parents.

3. Christ went back with them to Nazareth, and was more precious to them than ever.

(E. D. Solomon.)

Perhaps our Lord's parents had been a little to blame in ever taking their eyes off Him. Perhaps they had been too eager and careful about their homeward journey, and not mindful enough of the Holy Child. If so, they were punished by the dreadful anxiety which they must have felt in looking for Him, and by the still more painful void which His absence would make in their family circle. When people are not careful to keep the Lord with them, He easily escapes. A little heedlessness, a little want of watchfulness, a little more eagerness and hurry about worldly things than there is any necessity for — and the Divine Presence slips away. We may have really spoken to Him in our prayers, or in church, and have been comforted by the thought that we have done so. And then we may dismiss altogether the thought of His presence, and make no effort to call it back. We may forget that His eye is upon us, and do and say things in a fit of temper and excitement which we could not do and say if we felt He was looking on. And then we shall be punished by having to search for Him with labour and dryness of spirit. We must try to live in His presence, to be always conscious of it, even when not directly thinking of Him. This is the great secret of perfection (Genesis 17:1). Great peace and quietness of heart is to be found in always having our eye upon Christ.

(Dean Goulburn.)

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