And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.…
Observe, then, just where the real difficulty lies: it lies not in the fact of growth; it lies in the fact of incarnation, or the Divine birth itself. For the distance between the Babe of Bethlehem and the Man of Nazareth is infinitely less than the distance between man and God. But Christ's growth, be it carefully observed, implies no sort of imperfection. It is no sign of imperfection in a peach tree that it does not bear peaches in spring. And this growth does not seem to have been marked by anything striking. Had it been, the presumption is that his biographers would at least have hinted it. The very silence here of the evangelists is thrilling, for it brings the Divine Man within the range of our human sympathies and affections, thoroughly identifying Him with our average humanity. He grew up, as grows His own kingdom, without observation. "Wist ye not that I must be in My Father's house, about My Father's business?" All these years the heavenly Plant has been unfolding, and now appears the first blossom.
1. There was the school of home. I do not refer here to the lessons consciously taught by parents so much as to the lessons unconsciously taught by the home institution itself. We are trained for the celestial home in the school of the terrestrial, learning the heavenly sonhood in the exercise of an earthly, the universal brotherhood in the sphere of a personal. Home — that is to say, true home — is the best soil for the germination and growth of large, solid, abiding character. Christ's stay of thirty years beneath His mother's roof is an eternal glorification of the home institution.
2. There was the school of subordination. Loyalty is the mother of royalty.
3. There was the school of toil. There is no reason for supposing that Joseph and Mary were especially poor, and therefore that Jesus was brought up in absolute poverty. Ah, how this educates Him for sympathy with what must ever be the preponderating class of humanity, the working-class.
4. There was the school of society. No desert education was His, like that of His forerunner, John the Baptizer. He must feel the quickening, broadening, rounding power of society.
5. There was the school of isolation. What though He was brought up in society? Society comprehended Him not. Even His brothers, sons of His own mother, did not believe on Him. For the foundations of character are laid in moral solitude. Man's grandest victories are, and ever must be, won single-handed.
6. There was the school of the synagogue. Every day in the week, and three times every Saturday or the Jewish Sabbath, Jesus went to the synagogue, where He saw a model of the ark of the covenant, and the scrolls of the sacred books, and joined in the prescribed prayers, and listened to the reading of the two lessons — the one from the law, the other from the prophets.
7. There was the school of providence. Daily providence was His daily teacher.
8. There was the school of nature.
9. There was the school of routine. Doubtless it was the same unbroken, monotonous routine of family and workshop and synagogue, week after week, month after month, year after year. The frequent and tedious drill is the best preparation for the battle paean.
10. There was the school of delay. During those long thirty years Jesus doubtless often yearned to enter at once upon His glorious mission as the Christ of God and the Saviour of men. Not that enterprise and courage and energy are not praiseworthy. They are most noble traits. But there is such a thing as prematurity, and prematurity is apt to mean failure. This lesson of patience is especially needed in our times and land. It is an age of swift things, morally as well as physically. Young man, patiently abide your time. There is no heroism like the heroism of patience, no majesty like the majesty of self-confluence.
11. There was the school of temptation. And temptation is not only essential to character-disclosing, temptation is also essential to character-building.
12. There was the school of experience. For there is no education like the education of personal experience. Nothing can take the place of it: neither wealth, nor genius, nor splendid opportunities, nor indomitable will. And as in nature, so in morals: the slower the crystallization, the more perfect and abiding. And all this was as true for the Christ as it is for you and me. Such is the story of the home-life of the Divine Man. As that Greater than Solomon was rearing that temple nobler than Moriah's, no stroke of hammer, or axe, or any tool of iron was heard.
"No workman's steel, no ponderous axes rung,
Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung,"
The great lesson, then, of the home-life at Nazareth is this: Every-day life our training-school for heaven.
(G. D. Boardman.)
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.