Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

July 13, 1893

Words to the Young

The parents of Jesus went up every year to Jerusalem to keep the feast of the passover. “And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” In the excitement of journeying in the companionship of their friends and neighbors, Joseph and Mary did not notice the absence of their son through the day; but at night, when they halted for rest and sleep, they missed the ever-willing, obedient, helpful hand of their child. They searched for Jesus among their kinsfolk, and inquired concerning him among all the company of travelers, which was no small number, and were finally convinced that he was not among them; but the question was, Where was he? Was he behind them at Jerusalem? Had he been detained against his will? Was it possible that any one should do him harm? Could any one at Jerusalem be acquainted with the circumstances of his birth, with the design of Herod to kill him before the flight into Egypt? Did any one know that God had preserved his life by finding an asylum for him among the heathen? Fears and forebodings filled their hearts. They returned sorrowing to Jerusalem. Through one day's inattention they had lost Jesus; but for three days they searched with sorrow before they found him. They finally found him in the school of the prophets, in the midst of the doctors, listening to them, and asking questions.

The learned scribes and doctors were astonished at his wisdom, penetration, and mature judgment. The question passed from lip to lip, “How hath this youth this knowledge, having never learned?” Mary was rejoiced to find her son; but she could not forget the anxiety and grief which she had experienced on his account, and reprovingly she said, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Christ respectfully lay back the censure, saying, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” Mary knew that Christ did not refer to Joseph. In this assertion, he made it manifest that he did not recognize Joseph as his father, but claimed God as his Father; and for the first time he spoke to them of the mission which he came on earth to fulfil.

For twelve years of his life he had walked the streets of Nazareth, and worked with Joseph at his trade, carefully performing the duties that devolved upon a son. Hitherto he had not given indications of his peculiar character, or made manifest the nature of his mission to earth as the Son of God. But upon this occasion he made known to his parents the fact that he had a higher, holier mission to perform than they thought, for he had a work to do which had been committed to him by his heavenly Father. Mary knew that Jesus had disclaimed relationship to Joseph, and claimed his sonship to the Eternal. She was perplexed; she did not fully comprehend the meaning of the words herself when he referred to his mission. She questioned in her mind as to whether any one had told Jesus that Joseph was not his true father, but that God was his Father. Mary pondered these things in her heart.

The childhood and youth of Christ were spent in humble circumstances, under conditions that were favorable to the development of a sound constitution. His life was passed mostly in the open air. He drank of the pure streams of water, and ate the fruit of the gardens. He passed up and down the steep mountain paths, and through the streets of Nazareth, as he went to and from his place of toil to his home. He enjoyed the varied notes of the birds as they caroled forth their praise to their Creator. He took delight in the beauty of the flowers that decked the fields. He noted with joy the glory of the heavens, the splendor of sun, moon, and stars, and looked upon the rising and setting sun with admiration. The book of nature was open before him, and he enjoyed its tender lessons. The everlasting hills, the olive groves, were favorite places of resort where he went to commune with his Father. He was filled with divine wisdom, and through the study of nature, and by meditation upon and communion with God, his spiritual powers were strengthened.

In the life of Christ, his childhood and youth, there is a lesson for the youth of today. Christ is our example, and in youth we should contemplate God in nature,—study his character in the work of his hands. The mind is strengthened by becoming acquainted with God, by reading his attributes in the things which he has made. As we behold the beauty and grandeur in the works of nature, our affections go out after God; and though our souls are awed and our spirit subdued, our souls are invigorated by coming in contact with the Infinite through his marvelous works. Communion with God, through humble prayer, develops and strengthens the mental and moral faculties, and spiritual powers increase by cultivating thoughts upon spiritual things. We should carefully study the word of God, that we may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works, and be armed with arguments wherewith to resist the evil one. Like Christ, we should be able to meet the enemy in time of temptation with, “It is written.” O that it might be said of our youth as it was said of Jesus, that they increase “in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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