And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them–Luk 2:51
That visit to Jerusalem was one of the great hours in the life of Jesus. It must have moved Him to the depths. Often in the quiet home at Nazareth His mother had spoken to Him of the Holy City. And the Boy, clinging to her knee, had eagerly listened to all she had to tell. Now He was there, moving through the streets, feasting His eyes upon the Temple. He had reached the city of His dreams. Clearly it was a time of vision. “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? In that moving hour there broke on Him the revelation of His unique vocation. And the beautiful thing is that after such an hour He quietly went back to Nazareth, and was subject to Mary and to Joseph. He drew the water from the well again. He did little daily errands for His mother. He weeded the garden, tended the flowers in it, lent a hand to Joseph in the shop. And all this after that great hour which had changed His outlook upon everything and moved Him to the very depths.
Coming from Vision to Duty Was Characteristic of Jesus
That faithful and radiant way of coming back again was very characteristic of the Lord. We see it later at the Transfiguration. That was a splendid and a shining hour, when heaven drew very near to earth. Such hours find a more suitable environment on mountain-tops than on the lower levels of the world. There Moses and Elias talked with Him. There was heard the awful voice of God. There His very garments became lustrous. After such an hour of heavenly converse you and I would have craved to be alone. Voices would have had a jarring sound; company would have been deemed intrusion. And again the beautiful thing about our Lord is that after such a heavenly hour as that He came right down to the epileptic boy. Instead of the voices of Moses and Elias, there was the clamor and confusion of the crowd; instead of the tranquillity of heaven–the horrid contortions of the epileptic. It was the way of Jesus, after His hours of vision, to come right back, whole-heartedly and happily, to the task and travail of the day.
Routine Should Never Be Counted as Drudgery
Now, that is big with meaning for us all, and is capable of endless application. At this season, for instance, one would think of holidays. Many of my readers have had a splendid holiday, favored by weather exquisitely fine. A strong light, says Emerson, makes everything beautiful, and multitudes have found the truth of that. And now, from the “large room” of holidays, and the healing vision of mountain and of moorland, they are back to the old drudgery again. It is never easy coming back like that, especially in the vivid years of youth. The “daily round and common task” are alien and irksome for a little. But if we are trying to follow the great Master, we can show it not only in our going forth, but by the kind of spirit in which we return. He went down and was subject to His parents. He left the hills for the epileptic boy. He did it with that unfaltering faith of His, which assured Him that His God was everywhere. And in that radiant spirit of return from the vision to the daily round, He has left us an example that we should follow His steps.
It Takes Heroism to Come Back to Lowly Tasks
The same truth holds with equal force of all the great revealing hours of life. There is often not a little heroism in coming back again to lowly tasks. When love has once come caroling down the highway it is not easy to get back to drudgery. When sorrow has come and “slit the thin-spun life,” how intolerable, often, is that housework! The hand that knocks the nail into the coffin seems to knock the bottom out of everything, and we are left sometimes, paralyzed and powerless, in a world of phantoms we cannot understand. Some men in such hours take to drink. Some who can afford it take to travel. Some lose “the rapture of the forward view” and settle down in the “luxury of woe.” But He who came to lead us heavenward, and who drank our bitter chalice to the dregs, has empowered us for a better way than that. To take up our common task again, to march to our duty over the new-filled grave, to come back to the detail of the day, knowing that this, too, is holy ground–that is the path marked out for us by Him who went down and was subject to His parents, and who left the mount for the epileptic boy.
A Christian Does Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways
Nor can we forget how this applies to the great hours of the spiritual life. For that life, too, has its high revealing seasons, when like the apostle we are caught up to Paradise. After such hours (and one of them is conversion) men often yearn to do great things for heaven. They want to be ministers; they want to leave the bench, and go abroad to evangelize the heathen. If that be the authentic call of God it will reveal itself as irresistible, but often the appointed path is otherwise. It is not to go forth in glorious adventure; it is to come back with the glow upon the face–to the old home, the dubious friends, the critical comrades, the familiar faces, it is to tell out there all that the Lord has done, not necessarily by the utterance of the lip, but by the demonstration of the life. A Christian does not always do extraordinary things. He does ordinary things in extraordinary ways. He makes conscience of the humblest task. He does things heartily as to the Lord. And to come back again, with that new spirit, to the dull duty and narrowing routine is the kind of conduct that gives joy in heaven.