Today’s Devotional Blog is by Stuart Olyott taken from the EMW Daily Devotional
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.
These words follow an incident which occurred in our Lord’s life when He was twelve years old. That incident breaks the silence about His life between infancy and the age of thirty. It gives us one solitary insight into what He was thinking as He left childhood and approached adolescence.
Being now a ‘son of the Law’ Jesus was no longer under the umbrella of Joseph and Mary, and was therefore responsible for His own obedience to that Law. This obliged Him to attend the required annual feasts at Jerusalem. And so it was, in company with His parents and friends, that He set out on His first journey to observe the Passover in Jerusalem.
What did He think as the vast multitude of pilgrims frequently burst into singing the ‘Songs of Ascent’ (Psalms 120–134) as they travelled towards the distant capital? What went through His mind as He saw the Temple, took part in the sacred services of the feast, and listened in to the teaching and discussions led by the doctors of the Law?
Luke 2:41-50 lets us into the secret, at least a little.
The time came to go home. Since it was normal for the youths of the company to travel and sleep together, Joseph and Mary had no concerns about not having seen Him, especially as He had never once given them any cause for anxiety. However, when it became clear that He was not there, their distress was unbearable.
On returning to Jerusalem it took them three days to find Him. For the very first time Mary found herself reproving Him, but what she said was very measured and wonderfully affectionate. ‘Jesus, bach,’ is how we could translate her opening words.
Mary expressed how she and Joseph were surprised by His remaining behind. The twelve-year-old incarnate Son of God expressed His surprise at their surprise! Mary mentioned ‘your father’. Jesus talked about ‘my Father’. And so, with the greatest tact, He made it clear that He knew who His real Father was, and that His real home was God’s temple with its priesthood and sacrificial offerings. ‘I must be in my Father’s house and about my Father’s business’, He said. It was that compulsion that led Him to risk being misunderstood by those He loved so much.
Eager to learn, sitting among the greatest theologians and asking them questions, the developing Youth had astonished everyone by His understanding. A breath of heaven had blown through the Temple precincts. But holiness is humble. The Saviour of the world got up, followed Joseph and Mary out of the sacred courts, and ‘went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but his mother kept all these things in her heart’ (Luke 2:51).
In the eighteen years of silence that followed He was an obedient son to His human parents and to His divine Father. Passing into manhood He became the village carpenter, and continued to be tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15).
Silence. Silence. A silence of nearly thirty years, broken only once. Nothing appeared to be happening. No spiritual breeze seemed to be blowing anywhere. The few godly eyes that looked for promising signs saw nothing that encouraged them. But this one solitary incident teaches us that when all appears lost, God is at work. And He is doing something which is so stupendous that no human mind can ever guess what it is, or measure its worth. It was during a long silence that the Redeemer was perfectly prepared for the unique work of which eternity sings.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
and He will make it plain. (NCH 105).
William Cowper, 1731-1800.
Stuart Olyott (Liverpool).