Luke 2:49
"Why were you looking for Me?" He asked. "Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"
Sermons
A Grand PurposeJ. Clifford, D. D.Luke 2:49
A Plea for a Rejected TranslationR. E. Wallis, Ph. D.Luke 2:49
About His Father's BusinessH. R. Haweis, M. A.Luke 2:49
Attending to God's BusinessBaxendale's AnecdotesLuke 2:49
BusyJ. Vaughan, M. A. .Luke 2:49
Childhood to be Dedicated to GodFrederick Brooks.Luke 2:49
Christ About His Father's BusinessC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:49
Christ Our ExampleW. Jay.Luke 2:49
Earnestness ExemplifiedLuke 2:49
Father's BusinessJ. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 2:49
God's Business the Only Work for ManStopford A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 2:49
How We Must Make Religion Our BusinessLuke 2:49
My Father's BusinessJ. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 2:49
Need of Diligence in God's ServiceDean Goulburn.Luke 2:49
Self-Forgetfulness in the Lord's WorkLuke 2:49
The Boy in the TempleAlexander MaclarenLuke 2:49
The Business of YouthS. Martin, D. D.Luke 2:49
The Constraining MotiveMarianne Farningham.Luke 2:49
The Dawn of Sacred Duty: a Sermon to the YoungW. Clarkson Luke 2:49
The Earthly and the Heavenly ParentageDean Vaughan.Luke 2:49
The Epiphany of Christ's ChildhoodFrederick Brooks.Luke 2:49
The Epiphany of WorkDean Vanghan.Luke 2:49
The First Recorded Words of JesusC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 2:49
The Motto of Christ's LifeG. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 2:49
The Spirit of Christ's LifeJ. Clifford, D. D.Luke 2:49
The Spiritual Development of ChristStopford A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 2:49
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
The Visit of Jesus to Jerusalem When a BoyR.M. Edgar Luke 2:41-52
Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? There comes a time in our history - usually in the days of later youth or early manhood - when all things begin to wear a more serious aspect to us; when "the powers of the world to come" arrest us; when we ask ourselves very grave questions; when we have to confront a new future. It is the dawn of sacred duty in the human soul.

I. AS IT PRESENTED ITSELF TO JESUS CHRIST. His parents thought that his absence from their company was due to thoughtlessness or to absent-mindedness; they supposed it was to be explained by the fact that their Son was still a boy. On the contrary, the one thing that accounted for it was that he was beginning to be a man; that the burden of manhood's responsibilities was already resting on his shoulders; that the gravest solicitudes were already stirring in his soul. And the form which this sacred anxiety took was a holy and filial concern to be "about his Father's business." It had dawned upon his mind that his heavenly Father had sent him into the world to accomplish a special work, and that the hour had struck when he must address himself to this high and noble task. Therefore it behoved him to learn all that he could possibly acquire, to understand the things he had been taught, to receive from parents and teachers every truth he could discover and preserve. And the deep earnestness of his own spirit made it a matter of surprise that others, especially his elders and superiors, should not have perceived the same thing. "Wist ye not," he said wonderingly, "that I must be about my Father's business?"

II. AS IT APPEARS TO OUR MINDS NOW. There are various ways in which sacred duty may dawn on the human mind; the special form which this holy earnestness will take is affected by peculiarities of mental constitution, of parental training, of personal experience. It may be a deep sense of:

1. The value of the human soul, with its possibilities of nobility on the one hand and of degradation on the other.

2. The nearness and the greatness of the invisible and eternal world.

3. The seriousness of human life in view of the glorious and true success to which it sometimes attains, and also of the pitiable failure into which it sometimes sinks.

4. The strength and weight of filial and fraternal obligations. How much is due to the earthly father, and how wise it is to be guided by his ripe experience! how serious a thing it is to be setting an example to those who are younger!

5. The attractiveness of Jesus Christ - his purity and lovableness, his worthiness of the full affection and devotion of the human heart.

6. The claims of the heavenly Father, of him from whom we came, in whom we live, and by whom we are momently sustained; of him who has loved us with so patient and so ceaseless an affection. Must we not listen when he speaks, respond to his call, be found in his service, become the object of his Divine approval? When this solemn and sacred hour dawns upon the mind of the young, it is a time

(1) for profound and prolonged consideration;

(2) for earnest prayer;

(3) for unreserved consecration; it will then prove to be a time for

(4) true and lasting joy (Psalm 108:1). - C.







Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business.
1. The Epiphany before us is, in the first place, that of the two lives, the seen and the unseen, the relative and the personal, the human relationship to the Divine. Let us try to place ourselves in imagination in those Temple precincts, and picture the entrance of the distressed and bewildered mother after two days and nights of weary and watchful searching. Regardless of His mother's anxiety, He has been sitting in the Temple courts. "Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us?" was a natural question; and it fell not on a deaf ear, but on an unupbraiding conscience. "How is it that ye sought Me?" The rebuke is turned back upon herself. "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Original: "In the things of My Father." I prefer here the Authorized Version to the Revised.) It was a hard stern lesson for the heart of the mother. She lives only in Him; but He has now another life, and another being. Such is her first lesson in the mystery of the two lives, the twofold relationship. This lesson we have all to learn for ourselves, and to learn also for one another. What a unity does this give to the human being, to have a life above this life, a business, a home, a Father, away from the desultoriness, the dissipation, which are so wearying and deteriorating to all that is the man in us. "My Father," — a word of concentration, a word significant of the gathering into one of all the interests and affections which before were scattered abroad. This the one purpose of all education with the name, to make real to the young life this spiritual sonship; and this the one principle of all true human dealing, so to recognize in one another the secret of the Divine relationship, that we neither seek to engross for ourselves hearts which belong to another, nor run any risk of seducing from their rightful allegiance those whom God has appropriated to His own possession. Yet, secondly, of Him who has just spoken of this as a matter of course, that He shall be absorbed in His Father's business, it is written in the other half of the text that, "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." We are brought here into the very heart of the great mystery — God manifest in the flesh. And this is all that is told us of the boyhood of the Saviour — this and one brief hint besides, as to the occupation of His time in manual labour. This, then, as to its outward shape and form, was His Father's business; the inner life went on unknown and unnoticed. He was growing all this time in wisdom; but the one feature of the thirty years is the SUBJECTION. All else is taken for granted — the industry and the piety and the beautiful example — and this only is dwelt upon. "He was subject unto them." "He humbled Himself," St. Paul writes, as the characteristic of the whole of His earthly life — "He humbled Himself, and became obedient." From this beginning it was but a natural process to the long self-repression of the village-home and the drudging workshop; thence to the baptism in Jordan, and the temptation in the desert; thence into the homeless unrests of the ministry, the scorn and rejection of men, the dulness and coldness even of His own, and at last the agony of Calvary, and the shameful death of the cross. Though He was a Son, yet He "learned obedience by the things which He suffered." After Him let us struggle, living the life of faith which realizes the Father in heaven, feeling it His business as our business which makes the knowledge of Him our one submission, and suffers no other allegiance to interfere or compete with this; yet, on the other hand, counts no human subordination, and no personal sacrifice misplaced or undignified, may it but reproduce in faintest reflection the great Epiphany when "He went down with them," &c. "Let your light so shine before men," &c.

(Dean Vanghan.)

— A measureless weight of conviction is in that Boy's word, "I must." A Divine necessity, recognized with blended awe and joy, has Him in its grip. "I must" do My Father's work. A grand purpose fills His being, and His whole nature is bent on its accomplishment, a purpose exalting duty above all human ties and all human pleasures, and embracing within itself the highest ideal of being and doing. Difference of purpose marks man from man. Men take rank in the scale of manhood according to the elevation and purity of their aims. It is a sign of unique capability that the Boy Jesus should soar to the Divine, and embrace it with His whole soul. "I must be about My Father's house and work."

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

The necessity of our Lord's being in His Father's house could hardly have been intended by Him as absolutely regulating all His movements, and determining where He should be found, seeing that He had scarcely uttered the words in question before tie withdrew Himself with His parents from that house, and spent the next eighteen years substantially away from it. On the other hand, the claim to be engaged in His Father's concerns had doubtless frequently been alleged both explicitly and implicitly in respect of the occupations of His previous home life, and continued to be so during the subsequent periods of His eighteen years' subjection to the parental rule; His acknowledgment of that claim being in no wise intermitted by His withdrawal with His parents from His Father's house. Intimations of a more general kind seem to the writer easily capable of being read between the lines of the inspired narrative, which increase the probability that the Authorized translation, rather than the rendering of the Revisers, expresses the meaning of the evangelist.

(R. E. Wallis, Ph. D.)

I. THE FIRST DAWNING CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS MESSIAHSHIP.

II. THE FIRST DAWNING CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS PECULIAR RELATION TO HIS FATHER.

III. THE RESULTS OF THESE THOUGHTS UPON HIS LIFE. Eighteen years of silence, and then — the regeneration of the world accomplished, His Father's business done.

(Stopford A. Brooke, M. A.)

We are grateful that the Spirit of God has given us this first word of our Lord Jesus, and we love it none the less because it is a deep word. We are not surprised that even as a child the Son of God should give forth mysterious sayings. Stier, to whom I am much indebted for thoughts upon this subject, calls this text "the solitary floweret out of the enclosed garden of thirty years." What fragrance it exhales I It is a bud, but how lovely! It is not the utterance of His ripe manhood, but the question of His youth; yet this half-opened bud discovers delicious sweets and delightful colours worthy of our admiring meditation. We might call these questions of Jesus the prophecy of His character, and the programme of His life. In this our text He set before His mother all that He came into the world to do; revealing His high and lofty nature, and disclosing His glorious errand. This verse is one of those which Luther would call his little Bibles, with the whole gospel compressed into it.

I. Here we see THE HOLY CHILD'S PERCEPTION.

1. He evidently perceived most clearly His high relationship.

2. He perceived the constraints of this relationship. Here we have the first appearing of an imperious "must" which swayed the Saviour all along. We find it written of Him that "He must need go through Samaria," and He Himself said, "I must preach the kingdom of God"; and again to Zaccheus, "I must abide in thy house"; and again, "I must work the works of Him that sent his." "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders." "The Son of Man must be lifted up." "It behoved Christ to suffer." As a Son He must learn obedience by the things which He suffered. This Firstborn among many brethren must feel all the drawings of His sonship — the sacred instincts of the holy nature, therefore He must be about His Father's business. Now I put this to you again, for I want to be practical all along: Do you and I feel this Divine "must" as we ought? Is necessity laid upon us, yea, woe laid upon us unless we serve our Divine Father? Do we ever feel a hungering and a thirsting after Him, so that we must draw nigh to Him, and must come to His house, and approach His feet, and must speak with Him, and must hear His voice, and must behold Him face to face? We are not truly subdued to the son-spirit unless it be so; but when our sonship shall have become our master idea, then shall this Divine necessity be felt by us also, impelling us to seek our Father's face. As the sparks fly upward to the central fire, so must we draw nigh unto God, our Father and our all.

3. He perceived the forgetfulness of Mary and Joseph, and He wondered.

4. He perceived that He Himself personally had a work to do.

II. THE HOLY CHILD'S HOME. Where should Jesus be but in His Father's dwelling-place?

1. His Father was worshipped there.

2. There His Father's work went on.

3. There His Father's name was taught.

III. THE HOLY CHILD'S OCCUPATION.He spent His time in learning and inquiring. "How I pant to be doing good," says some young man. You are right, but you must not be impatient. Go you among the teachers, and learn a bit. You cannot teach yet, for you do not know: go and learn before you think of teaching. Hot spirits think that they are not serving God when they are learning; but in this they err. Beloved, Mary at Jesus' feet was commended rather than Martha, cumbered with much service. "But," says one, "we ought not to be always hearing sermons." No, I do not know that any of you are. "We ought to get to work at once," cries another. Certainly you ought, after you have first learned what the work is: but if everybody that is converted begins to teach we shall soon have a mass of heresies, and many raw and undigested dogmas taught which will rather do damage than good. Run, messenger, run! The King's business requireth haste. Nay, rather stop a little. Have you any tidings to tell?

1. Learn your message, and then run as fast as you please.

2. This Holy Child is about His Father's business, for He is engrossed in it. lids whole heart is in the hearing and asking questions. There is a force, to my mind, in the Greek, which is lost in the translation, which drags in the word "about." There is nothing parallel to that word in the Greek, which is, "Wist ye not that I must be in My Father's?" The way to worship God is to get heartily into it.

3. The Holy Child declares that He was under a necessity to be in it. "I must be." He could not help Himself. Other things did not interest the Holy Child, but this thing absorbed Him. You know the story of Alexander, that when the Persian ambassadors came to his father's court, little Alexander asked them many questions, but they were not at all such as boys generally think of. He did not ask them to describe to him the throne of ivory, nor the hanging gardens of Babylon, nor anything as to the gorgeous apparel of the king; but he asked what weapons the Persians used in battle, in what form they marched, and how far it was to their country; for the boy Alexander felt the man Alexander within him, and he had presentiments that he was the man who would conquer Persia, and show them another way of fighting that would make them turn their backs before him. It is a singular parallel to the case of the Child Jesus, who is taken up with nothing but what is His Father's; because it was for Him to do His Father's work, and to live for His Father's glory, and to execute His Father's purpose even to the last.

IV. Let us, lastly, learn This HOLY CHILD'S SPECIAL LESSON TO THOSE. OF US WHO ARE SEEKERS.

1. DO I address any children of God who have test sight of Christ? Mark, dearly beloved ones, if you and I want to find our Lord we know where He is. Do we not? He is at His Father's. Let us go unto His Father's: let us go to our Father and His Father, and let us speak with God, and ask Him where Jesus is if we have lost His company.

2. One more word, and that is to sinners who are seeking Christ. It will all come right if you will just think of this —(1) that Jesus Christ is not far away; He is in His Father's house, and that is everywhere;(2) that He is always about His Father's business, and that is, saving sinners.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We have heard of a custom, kept up by some good men, of choosing, each New Year's morning, a word or a sentence which should be their motto for the twelvemonth they had commenced. But Jesus of Nazareth seems to have made this choice once for all early in His career. He has recorded it; and we now ought to give it a full recognition as the prevailing and controlling principle of His wonderful life; "Wist ye not...?"

I. THIS CONCERNS OURSELVES ONLY SO FAR AS WE ADMIT HIM TO RE THE MASTER AND MODEL OF OUR EXISTENCE. If it be true, as we so often assert, that the Christian life is merely Christ's life imitated and reproduced, then His motto is ours also. We write it up over our doorway; we make it the seal of our correspondence; we emblazon it upon our carriage panels; we engrave in on our plate; we stamp it upon our coin; even the ring on our finger, and the buckle on our shoe's latchet, bears the same inscription and device. Each devout and true Christian, that is, gives himself and signs himself over unto God.

II. Hence, here is a TEST OF THE GENUINENESS OF OUR RELIGION.

III. There is an EMPLOYMENT FOR SUCH A MOTTO in the interpreting of one's occupation in life. Many a man works in his vocation, without looking on it as a "calling" at all. Remember, your business is not yours only, but your "Father's" too.

IV. This motto likewise will serve admirably to exhibit what is THE EARLIEST NEED OF A SOUL disturbed with the discovery of its sins and exposure. Write across any merely moral and correct life this saying of Jesus. It will make you think of the line in red ink merchants sometimes print on their cards when they have changed their address; it is on the card, not in it. A worldly life requires not regulation only, but regeneration. The change must be radical. It is not the twist of the threads, but the threads which make the fabric of the character wrong.

V. This motto will settle what are one's SAFE RELATIONS TO THE WORLD AROUND. The line must be drawn at the point where the world yields wholly to the "Father's business."

VI. Right here comes the decision, also, concerning the PROPRIETY OF QUOTING CHURCH MEMBERS FOR PATTERNS. The imperfections of others are no excuse for oneself. Being a Christian does not consist in proving other people to be hypocrites. The motto of Jesus says nothing about church members' business, but the "Father's."

VII. This motto will show, in like manner, THE REASON FOR SUCH SORE DISAPPOINTMENTS AS WE SOMETIMES EXPERIENCE, when those who promise well for a while fall away suddenly into sin. They have only been living a surface life of dependence on self. Their purpose has gone no higher than mere conduct. Whereas the end of Christian life in all its outgoings is Jesus Christ Himself. Wealth is gained that the owner may use it for Christ. Learning is acquired in order to teach our fellow-men about Christ. Out from the plane of human history springs one mysterious life, the model of all worthy existence. There it stands in the Scriptures out against the clear sky, visible to a hundred generations. The pattern of our life is found in the characteristics of that: the motive of our life is to be found in the love we bear for that: the corrective of our life is to be found in laying it alongside of that: and the stability of our Christian life is to be found in the unfailing help it receives from that. We are held up from falling, not by our hold upon Jesus' hand, but by His hold upon ours; we love Him because He first loved us; united to Him we can be sure He will sustain us in temptation.

VIII. This saying will AID US IN ESTABLISHING OPEN ISSUES wherever we are. Compromises are an invention of the devil. Keep up the boundaries between good and evil. On the one side is right, on the other is wrong; on the one peril, on the other safety; on the one truth, on the other falsehood; on the one those who are of the world, worldly, on the other those who are about the "Father's business."

(G. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. NOTE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, It was a spirit of undivided consecration to the will of God His Father. It was a spirit urged onward by an absolute necessity to serve God. "Wist yet not that I must? There is a something in Me which prevents Me from doing other work. I feel an all-controlling, overwhelming influence which constrains Me at all times and in every place to be about My Father's business; the spirit of high, holy, entire, sincere, determined consecration in heart to God.

1. What was the impelling power which made Christ say this?

(1)The spirit of obedience which thoroughly possessed itself of His bosom.

(2)A sacred will to the work which He had undertaken.

(3)He had a vow upon Him — the vow to do the work from all eternity.

2. What was His Father's business?

(1)To send into the world a perfect example for our imitation.

(2)The establishment of a new dispensation.

(3)The great work of expiation.

II. IMITATE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. Be about your Father's business with all earnestness, because that is the way of usefulness. You cannot do your own business and God's too. You cannot serve God and self any more than you can serve God and mammon. If you make your own business God's business, you will do your business well, and you will be useful in your day and generation. Again, would you be happy? Be about your Father's business. Oh, it is a sweet employment to serve your Father.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ is thoroughly a child, thoroughly a youth, thoroughly a man. In every stage of His life He is a representative of human life at that stage. He is not an unnatural child or boy; but He shows His Divine nature in the natural ways and forms of childhood. His humanity is perfect; not marvellously or strangely precocious. We may draw all the usual features of human child-life out of this story.

I. Take first the ACTIVE DELIGHT IN A NEW EXPERIENCE, which so belongs to all children. Manhood loses it. Disappointment takes off the edge. It is Christ's first visit to Jerusalem, and He is sensitively and zestfully full of it. He is alive to all the surroundings of His country's capital and centre. Thus He is the champion of childhood, insisting that its natural features (such as inquisitiveness), must be met and gratified; showing that through them God was manifested in His life, that they are not wrong in themselves, that they may be channels of the Holy Spirit's action. Delight and liberty are the simple creed of childhood. It would save many a young life from future excess; it would keep in the family many a prodigal and wanderer, and early emigrant, if this feature of a true, full child were at once recognized; if parents would not only look for a child's trust and obedience, but also for his activity.

II. IMPULSIVE TRUTHFULNESS TO SELF. Childhood never argues sophistically, contrary to the impulses of its nature, as a man delights to do often. "How is it...?" "How could I help going into My Father's temple and talking of Him and speaking for Him? It is the great impulse, and duty, and mission of My life. And I but obeyed it. Did you not know I would be here? How could you expect anything else?" Here was a perfect, holy nature, saying in its childhood "I must," and there was nothing more to be said in answer.

III. FILIALNESS: sense of Fatherhood, and of a family. Remember every child has a heavenly as well as an earthly father and home. Besides the second commandment in our Lord's code there is the first. Religion is but a higher application of the principles of morality, the doing for God what you do for man; being filled with the sense of God's Fatherhood as with that of earthly parentage; carrying dutifulness from the home of one to the higher home of the other. I remember going through a cave of stalactite, hung with glistening pendants, and capable of wonderful reflections, but shut away from all sunlight and gleam of heaven's power. A simple torch won marvellous effects from those waiting walls. But it was a great longing all the while in one's mind. Oh for one stream of daylight through all this sleeping glory?! If earth, made light, will so lighten it, what would the light of heaven do? So one looks with regret on much of the sweetness of life: upon a filial son; upon a life whose earthly affection lights it up with gleams of bright beauty, but with none of heaven's light streaming through its filial devotion, to give it the supreme glory of a life of a son of God, delighting in being about the Father's business; flinging over it the life which you see in Christ, in this Epiphany of His childhood.

(Frederick Brooks.)

Life must be wholly a manifestation of God. Every age is of value. Each section of life brings its own contribution to the perfected Christian character. Childhood has its own forces, its own kinds of strength and power, which other parts of life do not furnish; and they must be used in developing the man of God. You lose something if you put off religion to your later years. Your religious character never feels the benefit and power of these child forces, which do not belong to later life. You know the value of an overture in music; how its simplicity helps all the remainder of the more elaborate variations and movements. You could not start at once into the midst of the symphony or oratorio, and intelligently enjoy and use it. So youth brings its own peculiar contribution to the harmony of godly, Christly living. That is the teaching of the Boyhood of Christ. As the day without its dewy morning and all its influences; as the day beginning with hot noon; so is a life which begins for God at late years. We disjoint our religious lives, not seeing that 'the child is the father of the man,' and that all our days must be bound each to each by natural piety. Christ puts them altogether again, shows God in and through all of them, even in and through boyhood, and says, "It is not merely that you may be God's at the end; it is that all from the beginning may be His; and that at the end you may have a product towards which every stage of living has assisted." Oh, may Christ, the truest human child that has ever lived, win all the freshness and young strength there is yet in us for His Father.

(Frederick Brooks.)

What could compel the God who was equal to the Father? Was it not the constraint of His own loving and obedient heart? He must be about His Father's business, because He could not help it. To obey the Father was to obey the impulse of His own heart. He had undertaken to do His Father's will, and in doing it He did what was emphatically His own will. They were so completely one, theft Christ was compelled to be about His Father's business. This word must is no strange word to us women. We know well enough what it means. We, too, have rendered the obedience of love, which is the only kind of obedience worth the name. Is there any sweetness in all the world that can equal that which comes from obedience to our soul's beloved? The must is not a yoke which other hands have laid upon us; it is the outcome of our own hearts. It never thinks of possible reward or possible punishment, There is no need of a set of rules, or of verbal commands, much less of urging words. We obey because we must; because otherwise the hunger of our love could never be satisfied; because if there were a must not instead of a must, all the joy and gladness would go out of our life. We should not know what to do with our lips, and hands, and hearts, if we might not employ them for our dearest. But think what this must means in the text. "I must be about My Father's business." Is the Divine love within us less strong than the human? Are we Christ-like in this respect? Can we say, "I delight to do Thy will, O God"? Would it not change our lives a little if we felt this must as Jesus felt it? Would it not make of us better women, because better Christians? We feel that we must be about the business of our husbands, our children, or our friends; bat we too often regard our Father's business as something for our leisure moments only, to be taken up or left according to convenience. There is too often no must in this case. And this is the reason of much of the sorrow which is in our lives. We know so little of Christian joy, because we know so little of perfect obedience. We are Marthas, who are cumbered about much serving, rather than Marys, whose whole souls go out in love to the Master. Let us start afresh, and begin at the beginning. Let us abide with our Father, until, knowing Him better, we love Him more; and then say to all the hindering influences that are round about us, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"

(Marianne Farningham.)

It was a hard, stern lesson for the heart of the mother; she lives only in Him, but He has now another life and another being. Such is her first lessons in the mystery of the two lives, the twofold relationship. For a considerable portion of the life of all men, the two relationships are at one. The parent represents God to the child, and the child sees God through the parent. It is a sweet and lovely time for the mother, which nature perhaps would bid her protract. She feels that only good can come of it, so pure and so heavenward are her own aspirations for her child. Cannot the son continue to seek heaven only through her? is there any moral blank, is there any spiritual necessity to forbid her saying as a thing for all time and for all life, "So be it, it is good for us to be thus"? Yes, she must learn the great lesson, "All souls are Mine; as the soul of the parent, so also the soul of the son is Mine"; and God is the speaker. She must bend her neck to this discipline, or it will be the worse for her and for her child. The child has a Father in heaven, and at the first dawn of reason he must be about his Father's business. There are parents who have sought to perpetuate the spiritual infancy, to stand between God and the boy, to be still the conscience keeper and the mediator even when the open consciousness of the relationships direct and immediate should have warned them off as from holy ground. They have done so, and the Nemesis has been sharp and swift, the devotion diverted from God has found its object in Belial or Mammon. The mother may divert, but she cannot retain it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Here is the true thought for us, not only that all true work which we do is God's work, but that work which is not of God is net work, does not properly exist in the universe at all. "There is no work but Thine." When we first take up our place and labour, we mistake the meaning of our life. We think we are born to do our own will, and we act upon our thought. Straightway all our work becomes selfish: we toil and struggle for ourselves, we are an end unto ourselves; and the result is that we find our work becoming mean; our view of life contemptuous; ourselves ignoble. But when the root idea of life is changed, when we know that we are here to do God's will, and that His will is love to us and all, the impulse and end of our work are altered. We accept the duties laid upon us, and are not anxious to make them into advantages to self. We think, "God has placed me here and told me to do this. He is right, and knowledge and good must flow to all if I am faithful. I am His instrument; through me He is making a phase of Himself known to man; through me He is doing a portion of His mighty labour." The thought transfigures our view of the universe; immediately work becomes unselfish and sanctified, life is ennobled, the commonest drudgery is rendered beautiful, suffering is gladly borne. Men call us aside to the pursuit of pleasure, to the passion of excitement, to the fame and honour we may win, to seek our own will and gain it. "Hush," we say, "we live now in deeper joy than you can know, we have loftier excitements. Fame, honour, they are in His hand and not in ours. My own will! I have my will when I do His will." How magnificent a thing might life become could we but turn away from all temptations to do our own will, and say to the tempters, were they even father or mother — say in the strength of Christ — "I cannot; wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"

(Stopford A. Brooke, M. A.)

At His mother's tender reproach He turns, and lifts His dreamy eyes towards her — eyes that have been only intent on the sacred scroll before Him, and raised only to the grave faces of the official teachers around Him. For the first time He is aware of His own absorption. It seems incredible to Him that those nearest and dearest should be out of sympathy with Him at such a moment — unconscious of the spiritual influences which to Him were all in all — of the fascination of the law — of the solemnities of the Temple, from which He had not been able to tear Himself. He stands still, rooted to the spot; He has one more question to ask, not of the priest, but of His parents: "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" It sounded like a simple home appeal — had He not always been zealous about the carpentering business in the workshop of His reputed father at Nazareth — should He be less zealous about the work the heavenly Father was carrying on in Him at Jerusalem? A call so distinct — an opportunity so unique — a combination so complete — in the Temple — sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions; there was indeed business — more profitable beyond compare than anything to be found at Nazareth; there was at last edification beyond all human handicraft. He could not choose but be there — until called back. I must, He said — such moments of spiritual constraint fashion our lives. I must speak out, I must give it up, I must strike the blow, make the sacrifice, sound the matter to its depths, be alone in prayer, search out one who can teach or guide me, if only for a single brief hour, or for one fugitive day at a certain crisis — under the constraint of guiding events, a spiritual voice, a Divine leading. I must sit in the Temple, hear, inquire. I feel this leap into the future, this sudden growth in wisdom. I can make no mistake — the revelation is too cogent, too inward, too harmonious. I am being dealt with. I cannot choose, but hear and be as I am. I must be about My Father's business.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

The Rev. N. Haycroft, in urging earnestness as an essential qualification in a Sunday-school teacher, says: — The narrative of a colporteur in Spain, on one occasion, will best illustrate this point. He was travelling on foot through the provinces, selling Bibles. At the close of a long and weary day's journey, he approached, hungry and footsore, the outskirts of a village, where he met a Roman Catholic priest, who asked him what he had in his pack. The colporteur replied, "Bibles and Testaments; and I shall be happy to sell you one." "Can you sell me a real Bible?" "Yes; a real Bible for real money." He unshouldered his pack, and the priest purchased a Testament. Just as he was about to depart he said to the colportuer, "You seem to have travelled far to-day!" "Yes, I have," was the answer; "but it is about my Master's business." "You are footsore and wayworn." Yes; but it is all about my Master's business." "Your Master must have a very faithful servant in you," said the priest. The colporteur, not liking to expatiate on his own merits, was inclined to cut the conversation short, anal prepared to pursue his journey. The priest interposed, and pressed him to remain and lodge with him all night. "No," said the colporteur; "I cannot accept your hospitality, for I must be about my Master's business." "But you must lodge somewhere, so that you may as well come with me." After some persuasion he went. Having spent a useful hour or two together, they retired for the night. The priest was an early riser, and at six o'clock in the morning he called to his housekeeper to know wether the stranger was up yet. "Oh yes! "said she," he has been gone from here this three hours; and the last words he said were, 'I must be about my Master's business.'" Here was earnestness; — and remember there is no qualification for a high pursuit like earnestness. Luther was in earnest; and he pressed on till he had secured the glorious Reformation. Howard was in earnest; and he rested not till he had visited all the prisons of Europe, and made their sorrows patent to the world. Wilberforce, and Clarkson, and Buxton were in earnest; and they persevered till they had obtained the liberation of the slave. Napoleon was in earnest in his ambitious projects; and step by step he dashed on to victory, nor rested till he had trampled under foot the thrones of Europe, and made himself the arbiter of the destinies of the world. His one saving quality was earnestness.

What a lesson for all young people! You think you need not begin serving God just yet. You have plenty of years before you. How do you know that? Do people never die young — suddenly, without warning? Begin at once to redeem the time. Say to yourself each morning-" My soul, thou hast to-day a God to glorify, a Christ to imitate, a soul to save, a body to keep under, time to redeem, temptation to overcome — verily, I must be about my Father's business."

(Dean Goulburn.)

Baxendale's Anecdotes.
Dr. Parr, in his Life of Archbishop Ussher, relates that while that prelate was once preaching in the church at Covent Garden, a message arrived from the Court that the king wished immediately to see him. He descended from the pulpit, listened to the command, and told the messenger that he was then, as he saw, employed in God's business, but as soon as he had done he would attend upon the king to understand his pleasure; and then continued his sermon.

(Baxendale's Anecdotes.)

There is in New York a Christian lady, who surely is one of the bravest of the brave. It was found necessary that the surgeons should perform upon her a severe and dangerous operation, and for that purpose she was taken from her home to a private room in the City Hospital. The probabilities were against her living through the operation, but it was the only hope of relief. She stood face to face with probable death under the surgeon's knife, to say nothing of her great suffering from her disease. It might have been supposed that her anxiety for her children, her own suffering, and her great danger would have so filled her mind, that she would have done well had she fixed her thoughts on heaven, borne her sufferings meekly, and waited in unshaken faith for her summons home. But she was one of God's heroines. She found that the skilled nurse who had charge of her was not a Christian, and she lost sight of herself, in the desire to bless the soul of this stranger. She requested the nurse to read the Bible aloud to her, and selected such passages as she believed most likely to rouse the nurse to repentance. She talked to her about religion, prayed with her and asked God to give her this soul before He called her home; and the prayer was answered. We are glad to be able to add that the lady recovered, and it is likely she owed her life, humanly speaking, to her zeal for her Lord's work. For her thoughts were thus withdrawn from herself, so that sorrow for her loved ones and shrinking from suffering and dangers did not wear her nerves and exhaust her vitality.

Such a sentence at this time in His career is solitary in its grandeur, and rears its head like a sunlit peak, flashing its golden light backward along His infancy and boyhood, revealing its hidden progress and interpreting its experiences; reaching forward to the day of His baptism, and even to the hour in which He offers Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world; and proving that the "element" present in this early utterance makes this but one of a series of luminous summits of the same mountain range. Look into the consciousness out of which that saying leaps. It bespeaks a soul that lies like an unruffled lake in the broad and beaming sunshine of the Father's face. It is as surprising in its frankness as it is marvellous in its fulness. As if it were a flash of a divinely religious genius, we listen and ponder and admire; as when, for the first time, the spirit is spell-bound before Angelo's Moses, or when Milan Cathedral, a splendid mass of perfected thought and finished loveliness, first stands out revealed to our gaze in theclear sunlight of heaven.

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

"Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" Let us then — First, state the circumstances in which He now was. Secondly, concede what was peculiar in His case. And thirdly, explain what is common between Him and you on this subject.

I. And, first, WITH REGARD TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HE NOW WAS. A remarkable veil is thrown over the Saviour's infancy, His childhood, His youth, and His private life. But there is a difference between Him and us, and I therefore pass on —

II. Secondly, TO CONCEDE WHAT WAS PECULIAR IN HIS CASE. There was much that was peculiar.

1. His relation was peculiar. God was His Father in such a sense, as He is not ours.

2. The business He had to accomplish for His Father was peculiar. He said in His intercessory prayer, "I have glorified Thee on earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." This was, to interpose as a Mediator between God and us; to lay His hands on us both; to finish transgression. No, "He trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none to help Him."

3. His obligations were peculiar. "I must be about My Father's business." He was not originally under this obligation. He incurred it for our sakes. Lastly, His answer was peculiar. Never was there before, and never can there be again, a child to be addressed in a state like this. Though, therefore, His reply was exactly pertinent as regarded Himself, yet it is not proper in all respects for others. Yet where there is no equality, there may be a likeness. Though in all things He has the pre-eminence, He is the model of the new creation, and we are predestinated as Christians to be conformed to the image of God's own Son. And now I come to the —

III. Third part of my subject, in which I purpose TO EXPLAIN WHAT IS COMMON BETWEEN HIM AND YOU ON THIS SUBJECT.

1. God is your Father.

2. That there is a business which your Father has assigned you. We call it your Father's business, because He will punish all who neglect it, and graciously reward those who observe it. What is this business? You have the Scriptures; search the Scriptures. There you will find it described both negatively and positively. There you will learn that it is to avoid that which is evil and to cling to what is right.

3. Remember that this business you are under an obligation to regard and pursue. It is not to be observed as a thing of indifference; not as an optional thing; but you must be about your Father's business. You are under the obligation of justice in this business. Whatever talents you possess, or blessings you enjoy, they come from Him, and He never relinquished His property in any one of them.

4. His answer is to be your answer, to all those who would interfere with your concern in this cause, you must say as He did, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" There are many who will in various ways do this; but for the present we may rank them under five classes. And in the first class we put those whom I shall call wonderers. The apostle says, "The natural man knoweth not the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned." They wonder with regard to your conduct. Second class, we put reproachers. That which you do from the conviction of conscience many will ascribe to obstinacy or hypocrisy, or to a wish to excite notice and to distinguish yourself. Third class, I put the hinderers. There are some persons who have nothing in the world to do themselves, and very naturally judge of others by themselves. Fourth class, I put bigots. There are some persons who seem to possess nothing like judgment, and are never able to distinguish between things that differ. Fifth and last class are complainers. But to conclude. Here is a beautiful example to the young. The youthful Redeemer, my dear children, of twelve years old, is saying, "I must be about My Father's business." Oh! be influenced by this example; and remember what He says, "They that seek Me early shall find Me."

(W. Jay.)

From this example of our blessed Saviour, in making His Father's work His business, we learn this great truth: — That it is the duty of every Christian to make religion his business. For the illustrating and unfolding of this, there are three questions to be resolved: —

I.What is meant by religion?

II.Why we must make religion our business?

III.What it is to make religion our business?QUESTION

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY RELIGION?QUESTION

II. The second question is, why WE MUST MAKE RELIGION OUR BUSINESS? I answer, because religion is a matter of the highest nature; while we are serving God, we are doing angels' work.QUESTION

III. The third question is, WHAT IT IS TO MAKE RELIGION OUR BUSINESS? I answer: it consists principally in these seven things: —

1. We make religion our business, when we wholly devote ourselves to religion. "Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear" (Psalm 119:38); as a scholar who devotes himself to his studies makes learning his business.

2. We make religion our business, when we intend the business of religion chiefly. It doth principatum obtinere ["gain the pre-eminence"] "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33); first in time, before all things, and first in affection, above all things.

3. We make religion our business, when our thoughts are most busied about religion.

4. We make religion our business when our main end and scope is to serve God.

5. We make religion our business, when we do trade with God every day. "Our conversation is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20).

6. We make religion our business, when we redeem time from secular things for the service of God. A good Christian is the greatest monopolizer: he doth hoard up all the time he can for religion: "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee" (Psalm 119:62).

7. We make religion our business when we serve God with all our might.USE.

I. INFORMATION.BRANCH

I. Hence learn, that there are few good Christians. Oh, how few make religion their business t Is he an artificer that never wrought in the trade? Is he Christian that never wrought in the trade of godliness t How few make religion their business!

1. Some make religion a complement, but not their business.

2. Others make the world their business. "Who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:19).BRANCH

II. Hence see how hard it is to be saved.USE

II. TRIAL. Let us deal impartially with our own souls, and put ourselves upon a strict trial before the Lord, whether we make religion our business. And for our better progress herein, I shall lay down ten signs and characters of a man that makes religion his business, and by these as by a gospel-touchstone, we may try ourselves: —CHARACTER

I. He who makes religion his business cloth not place his religion only in externals. "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly" (Romans 2:28).CHARACTER

II. He who makes religion his business avoids everything that may be a "hindrance" to him in his work.CHARACTER

III. He who makes religion his business hath a care to preserve conscience inviolable, and had rather offend all the world than offend his conscience. "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience" (2 Timothy 1:3).CHARACTER

IV. He who makes religion his business, religion hath an influence upon all his civil actions.CHARACTER

V. He who makes religion his business, is good in his calling and relation. Relative grace cloth much grace religion.CHARACTER

VI. He who makes religion his business hath a care of his company. He dares not twist into a cord of friendship with sinners: "I have not sat with vain persons" (Psalm 26:4). Diamonds will not cement with rubbish.CHARACTER

VII. He who makes religion his business keeps his spiritual watch always by him. The good Christian keeps his watch candle always burning.CHARACTER

VIII. He who makes religion his business, every day casts up his accounts to see how things go in his soul.CHARACTER

IX. He who makes religion his business will be religious, whatever it cost him.CHARACTER

X. He that makes religion his business lives every day as his last day.RULES FOR MAKING RELIGION OUR BUSINESS.RULE

I. If you would make religion your business, possess yourselves with this maxim, that religion is the end of your creation.RULE

II. If you would make religion your business, get a change of heart wrought.RULE

III. If you would make religion your business, set yourselves always under the eye of God.RULE

IV. If you would make religion your business, think often of the shortness of time.RULE

V. If you would make religion your business, get an understanding heart.RULE

VI. If you would make religion your business, implore the help of God's Spirit.MOTIVE

I. The sweetness that is in religion. All her paths are pleasantness (Proverbs 3:17).MOTIVE

II. The second and last consideration is, that millions of persons have miscarried to eternity, for want of making religion their business. They have done something in religion, but not to purpose: they have begun, but have made too many stops and pauses.

( T. Watson, M. A.)

1. To regain the knowledge of God.

2. To renew intercourse with God. The business of youth is —

3. To return to the service of God, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way." "Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the shepherd and to the bishop of souls." By the service of God, I intend, a life of filial obedience to God's will. His service does not consist in mere prayers and praises, in reading Scripture, and in attending public worship; even activity in spreading religion, blended with devotional exercises, does not compass God's service; that service consists in doing and in suffering all God's will, and His will embraces every act, and claims every hour. The business and the service in which you are occupied, may be made a course of duty to God: perform what you have to do, as unto God; do it according to God's will; do it in the spirit of obedience to God; and in your worldly calling you will glorify Him; your conduct will exhibit the holiness, the justice, and the goodness of His will; your spirit will manifest His nature; your circumstances will display His power and His love; the place of your daily labour will be as much the temple of your ministrations, as the place where the seraphs cry; and your avocations as truly worship, as is their song of "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty." This is the business of youth: through the provisions of the gospel, to regain the knowledge of God — to renew intercourse with God — to return to the service of God — in one word, to "Remember the Creator." Youth are expected to be thus occupied, by the highest authority and by the holiest beings.This expectation is reasonable: — Because,

1. The season of youth is the right time for the commencement of this business — it is the right time, because the youth is as much the creature of God as he ever can be — it is the right time, because the time in which God requires it to be begun. "In the days of thy youth, remember thy Creator." I do not deny that religion is often entered upon during manhood, and sometimes in old age; but it is too late; not too late for salvation, but too late to be right. God has not given men a discharge from His service during youth delay is, therefore, sin. Are mid-day and evening only ruled by the sun? does the earth nourish only the full-grown tree, or the full-blown flower? then why should life's morning be without God, and the plants of youth without a place in God's vineyard? The expectation is reasonable: —

2. Because, in the youthful stage of life, there is no peculiar impediment to the pursuit of this business. There are impediments, and they are great, and they are many: a fallen nature, an adversary in Satan, and an evil world, involve them. But these sources of opposition exist in every stage of life; and, I ask, when are they most full and powerful? Youth has nothing in it, as youth, presenting impediments. The peculiar features of early life are these: — The character is unformed — habits are not fixed — the spirits are buoyant — cares are not heavy; but in these features of youth we find facilities, not obstacles. The Scriptures and the ordinances of religion are as adapted to youth as to old age; if they supply strong meat for men, they yield also milk for babes. God is not slow to be found of the young, to hold fellowship with them, and to introduce them to His service. "I love," saith God, "them that love Me, and them that seek Me early shall find Me." The expectation is reasonable: —

3. Because, nothing so promotes the happiness of life, as the early pursuit of this business. Distinguish happiness from mere pleasurable feeling: the latter is not always the state of a godly man. But if a quickened intellect, if shelter from many moral evils, if fellowship with that Being whose wisdom and knowledge and influence are infinite, if peace of mind, if securing the chief end of life, if the love and care of God, if the prospect of a glorious immortality can constitute happiness, then it is found in the knowledge, in the fellowship, and in the service of God. The season of youth is the time in which happiness is most ardently sought; and if the young but become occupied with that which we have called the business of life, they not only secure in youth the purest and most solid enjoyment which can be found on earth, but they treasure up happiness for manhood and old age, yea, even to eternity. Godliness will promote the welfare of the young in their business. The godly youth attends to business with diligence and fidelity, and (performing his duties in the spirit of prayer) with the prospect of success. He performs everything as unto God — he acts by God's guidance, he inherits God's blessing. Any wise master will value greatly a pious apprentice, a godly assistant, a religious servant. Sunday religion — mere Bible-reading religion — mere church- and chapel-going religion, all employers, pious and profane, agree to abhor, but the reality in a youth all must prefer.

(S. Martin, D. D.)

Once, a great Roman emperor had conquered a great country. and he had come back to Rome, and he was having what is called "a triumph." He was going up with great pomp, chariots, and soldiers, and great hosts of people! A very little boy ran out of the crowd that was looking at the emperor, and was running up to him, when the crowd put him back, and said, "Don't you know it is the emperor?" The boy replied, "Yes, he is your emperor, but he is my father!" "My father!" "That great king is your emperor, but he is my father!" A man once said, "Life is a thread; but the thread is in my Father's hand, so it is all rightQ" Do you understand that? What a blessed thing it is to be able to say, "My Father!" Beautiful words, aren't they? I don't know any words like them. "My Father!" "It is no use unless you can say, "My." My dear boys and girls, can you look up into that great Father's face, and say, "He is my Father"? "I must be about my Father's business."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I have read a little fable about a hard frost. When everything was frozen there was one little stream running still. It was not frozen, and somebody said to the little stream, "Little stream, why aren't you frozen?" The reply was, "I am too busy to be frozen. I am going too fast, too quickly, to be frozen." The best way is to be very busy — have plenty to do.

(J. Vaughan, M. A. .)

I should like to say something about a man who wrote a very clever book. At one time he did not believe in God. One day he was wanting a little water, and he knocked at a cottage door and asked for some water. A little girl opened the door, and he said to her, "Will your mother give me a little water to drink?" She replied, "Come in, sir; my mother will be happy to give you some water." He went in, and saw the little girl had been reading the Bible; and he said to her, "What, getting your task done?" She said, "No, sir, no task. I am reading my Bible." "Yes," he said, "you are getting your tank out of the Bible." "No, sir," she repeated, "I am reading the Bible." He said to her, "Do you love the Bible?" In a childish way she replied, "I thought everybody loved the Bible." This struck him very much. This little girl loved her Bible; it was no task to her, but a pleasure. He went home and read the Bible for himself. That was the beginning of it. She was "doing her Father's business." How did it become God's business? And it is the great business of our day, to be reading the Bible, praying, thinking; and in our private devotions.

(J. Vaughan, M. A. .)

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