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of preparation for His future mission, during which He was learning to sympathise with us men in all the relations and conditions of our ordinary life. The gradual growth of His intellectual, moral, and spiritual life, even as that of other men is developed, from His earliest childhood to youth and manhood, is distinctly marked. * No doubt, from His infancy He learnt from His holy mother, whose faith in God's word has made her blessed to all generations, those Scriptures which Timothy learnt from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. But little else could there have been to cultivate the spiritual life in such a place as Nazareth, out of which, in the estimation of religious Jews, it was a question whether anything good could come. The evangelist Luke, in the only incident that is recorded of the childhood of Jesus, leaves us to imagine the intense interest awakened in the mind of the Holy Child when, at twelve years of age, He was taken by His parents for the first time to Jerusalem.
St. Luke ii. 40, 52.
There He was initiated as a “Son of the Law" by a solemn rite (in use among orthodox Jews to the present day), in which the child undertakes obedience to the ordinances of the Law, and is thenceforward admitted as a full member of the House of Israel. We must not, however, regard this period as in any sense a beginning of His higher mission, as the rendering in the Authorised Version of His reply to His mother might lead us to suppose.
It is more correctly rendered in the Revised Version, Wist ye not that I must be in my Father's house ?” And this is evidently its meaning : “ You might have known that the house of God was the place where I should be found."
This is the single incident in the history of our Blessed Lord, before His baptism by John, that throws any light on His religious life during these thirty years: but it is sufficient to remind us how deeply and how fully the ordinary life of Jesus during the whole of that period must have been interpenetrated and animated by the consciousness of His relation to His Father in heaven. And if we regard the incident from this point of view, it is full of instruction and encouragement to ourselves, whenever our daily occupation lies among the duties of natural and social relations. Jesus spent the greater part of His life on earth among the same, yet growing in spiritual wisdom and the grace of God year by year. That period of His life was a season of preparation for His work of our Redemption, which He accomplished at its close. And if such a life was for Him a suitable preparation for becoming my Saviour, may not such a life, even if I am never to the end of my days called to any other, be for me also the very discipline which God sees to be most suitable and necessary, in order that I may be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light?
We must notice here, as it throws light on the connection between the duties of our natural life and those of a higher sphere, that not only during the first thirty years of His life was His present work for God among such duties, but afterwards also—as might have been expected
from One who was really man, with all the natural affections of humanity-even His higher work for His Father during this earthly life took somewhat of its form and colouring from the relations of His natural life. When once called to His high mission, He would not allow even a mother's love and anxiety to interfere with His own judgment as to His work for God;
and, however blessed she might be esteemed among women as having borne and nursed the Saviour, yet rather “Blessed are they,” He says,
that hear the word of God and keep it.” But this was far from meaning that His higher mission extinguished the affections and absorbed the duties of natural relations. For, even in that supreme hour when He was offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, before He said, “ It is finished,” He committed His widowed and now doubly-bereaved mother to the charge of His dearest earthly friend, even as a man might do whose only work for God on earth had been the
* St. John ii. 4.
fulfilment of his filial duties. And it is interesting to observe how members of His family were associated with His earthly ministry. Among the chosen Twelve, although it is not probable that James the less and Judas were our Lord's brethren, since during * His earthly ministry the brethren of Jesus did not believe on Him, yet there seems good reason to believe that the sons of Zebedee, of whom both were included in the first four of the apostles, and one was the beloved disciple John, were near relations-apparently first cousins-of our Lord on the mother's side. It is probable also that James, “the Lord's brother,” who afterwards presided over the Church at Jerusalem with apostolic authority, was the James mentioned by St. Pault as the only disciple, except Peter, to whom our Lord appeared alone after His resurrection.
The mere fact, indeed, that “Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brethren,” are specially named as continuing with the eleven in prayer in the upper chamber at Jerusalem after our Lord's
* St. John vii. 7.
# 1 Cor. xv. 7.