And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.…
But let us now direct our attention more particularly to the youthful Saviour's visit to the Temple, as narrated in this day's Gospel.
1. It appears from this record, that his parents were punctual and regular in their attendance upon the appointed services of religion. They were poor. They also lived very far away. By actual experiment, I found it two days and a half hard riding, upon active horses, from Nazareth to Jerusalem. But they found no excuse in these things for failing to be present in the holy city when the feast of the Passover came round.
2. It appears that, as soon as Jesus had reached His twelfth year, these pious parents took Him with them on their annual visit to the sacred city and Temple. At any rate, they took Him with them, an example which it would be well for all parents to note and follow.
3. It appears that this visit of the young Saviour to the holy city and Temple was the means of an enlarged and astonishing spiritual awakening to Him. Mind left to itself stagnates and fails of proper fruitfulness. The quickening spark needs to be applied to kindle it into living flame and power. New subjects were thrown in upon His human intellect. A new world opened to His soul and seized upon His heart, already in holy and peaceful harmony with the deepest underlying Spirit of all. It was not a conversion, for He needed no converting. It was not the implantation of the new life; for He never was dead to holy things. But it was the opening of His human faculties, the quickening of their activities, to grasp the objects which were to fill and enlist His powers, which marked the commencement of that higher consciousness and ampler realization of the truth, in meek and zealous obedience to which He from that time forward went forth, and which was the active principle of all His subsequent life and deeds as the Redeemer el the world. Brethren, will any one look these facts in the face and say, that there is no use for children to come to the temple of God! I know of a boy, who, at fourteen years of age, walked a series of miles from his home, to a strange place, to see a synodical convention. He started out in the morning, and returned at night, without partaking of a meal during his absence, and repeated the same on the day following. And from what he saw and heard during those two days, there was formed in his heart the purpose to devote himself to the gospel ministry. That purpose he also carried into effect, against the dissuasion of his bishop, the disapprobation of his father, and all the disadvantages of the absence of pecuniary resources. That contact with the assembled ministers of the Church, brought about by no particular object save to gratify a general desire for information, and without having spoken a word to any of them, touched a cord, and awoke a feeling, which gave shape and direction to his whole after life. And that boy is your preacher to-day! Nor can you know what living seeds of transforming power, and fruitfulness in virtue and grace, may be planted by a single visit of a youth to the temple of God! See to it, then, that your children are early brought into connection with all the ministrations of the sanctuary.
4. It also appears from this record, that even the pious Joseph and Mary expected much less from this carrying of the youthful Jesus to the temple, than actually occurred. Ah yes, there is often more going on in the hearts of children than their parents, who know them best, suppose or believe. The purest waters are those that run deepest under ground, before they show themselves; and there may be much more in our children, and in the very line of our most anxious desires, than we would for a moment think of ascribing to them.
5. Finally, it appears from this record, what that was which from earliest youth most powerfully absorbed Christ's feelings and attention, and what in His view is the proper thing supremely to enlist and engage the young. "How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" He had relations in heaven paramount to all relations of kindred and blood on earth.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.