Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Ms 183, 1903

The Child Jesus in the Temple



Previously unpublished.

When Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with Joseph and Mary “to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” [Luke 2:42.] What must have been His awakened sense of all that He saw and all that He heard? The veil was lifted as to His mission and His work. He lingered by Himself. He tarried behind. He had a communication from His Father as He stood in the temple courts: This is Thy message. Here shalt Thou proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord as Prophet of the Most High God. With His quick perception, He knew from the things which He saw on that first visit to the temple that He was to be the great Sacrifice for sin, the fulfilment of Isaiah fifty-three. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 1

He must be about His Father’s business, and that work was begun in hearing the Scriptures read by the scribes and doctors and in His clear conception of truth. He listened to their explanations and asked questions which flashed strong light into the minds of those doctors—light that they had not before discovered. Why did not Christ tell them His mission, His work? Because He thought best to be silent. He had no thought that they would understand that He was in His own heavenly Father’s house and about His Father’s business, talking with the lawyers. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 2

When night came, lo, Joseph and Mary looked for their Son and found they had lost Him. Oh, why did He not tell them His purpose? Why did He not ask them if He might or might not remain? Because He took in the communication to Him from God. He had always been perfectly obedient in His childhood. Oh, where could He be? 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 3

Christ understood that the time had come when His earthly parents might understand and learn to distinguish between His heavenly Father’s claims and that of His earthly parents. He must now take His position that He would love, obey, and honor them in all things that did not militate against His own conception of duty. His heavenly Father’s purpose concerning Him was now to be opened before them. His Father’s claims were first, and this must be distinct in the lessons He must teach all His followers. Parents, masters, guardians, monarchs cannot cross the barrier to interfere with human actions, as they relate to human conscience and the will of God. No man-made laws, no edicts of government or rulers, can tie the One who understands His duty given Him of God. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 4

Of Christ it is said that He tarried behind, and His parents knew not of it. It took only one day to lose Him, because the parents had neglected their Charge. How many parents are doing this work today, exchanging the country home in Galilee for the city, with its crowds of people? How many fathers and mothers lose sight and companionship of their boys and girls and have no knowledge of it? This matter contains an appeal to all fathers and all mothers. Never lose sight of your children. This was an action which cost the parents much sorrow and three days of painful searching. Joseph and Mary sought Jesus among their kinsfolk in the crowd that trod their way to Galilee. At last, when He could not be found, the had to acknowledge they had lost Him. There will come a time when fathers and mothers will have to acknowledge that they have lost their children, their sons and their daughters, that the world has them ensnared, and all because of careless inattention. Ofttimes fathers and mothers never find their forgotten and lost children again; they may not know their children are lost. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 5

The parents of Jesus lost Him at a religious feast which was to call attention to Christ, their coming Saviour. Festivities, reunions, hilarity, and glee were more or less the order of the day. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 6

Recreation and innocent enjoyments, carefully guarded, are considered no sin, but all this leads to frivolity and indulgence of appetite. Religious, thoughtful conversation is set aside for another time. We can never be loose and lax and in banqueting enjoyment pursue a course where there is danger of losing Jesus Christ’s company for a single hour. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 7

When Mary and Joseph did not find Jesus among kinsfolk and acquaintances, who had not seen Him, they turned back to retrace their steps to Jerusalem. After their troubled, heartsore search, they missed the active companionship of friends and relatives; but Jesus, their Son, was lost. He must be found; and they sought Him sorrowing. After three days’ search, stopping at every place, asking every traveler, Have you seen our Boy? at last they came back to the temple courts and up the marble steps. Poor, tried, afflicted Mary lays her trembling hand on her husband’s arm and cries, “Joseph, Joseph, He is here!” 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 8

They stop as they hear His voice. He is among the wise men and lawyers, and is forming questions that astonish the wise men, for light is flashed into their minds. Mary the mother inquired, “Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me?” And lifting His eyes and hand to heaven He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:48, 49. Heaven’s expressive light was in His countenance. The Child placed His hand in that of His mother’s and went with them, the Majesty of heaven shining in His countenance through humanity. 18LtMs, Ms 183, 1903, par. 9