Jesus in the Temple
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It was the custom for the Jews from all parts of the land to go up to Jerusalem to worship at least once every year at the feast of the Passover, which was held in the spring.
Some families also stayed to the feast of Pentecost, which was fifty days after Passover; and some went again in the fall to the feast of Tabernacles, when for a week all the families slept out of doors under roofs made of green twigs and bushes.
When Jesus was a boy twelve years old he was taken up to the feast of the Passover, and then for the first time he saw the holy city Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord on Mount Moriah. Young as he was, his soul was stirred as he walked among the courts of the Temple, and saw the altar with its smoking sacrifice, the priests in their white robes, and the Levites with their silver trumpets. Though a boy, Jesus began to feel that he was the son of God, and that this was his Father's house.
His heart was so filled with the worship of the Temple, with the words of the scribes or teachers whom he heard in the courts, and with his own thoughts, that when it was time to go home to Nazareth he stayed behind, held fast by his love for the house of the Lord. The company of people who were travelling together was large, and at first he was not missed. But when night came and the boy Jesus could not be found, his mother was alarmed. The next day Joseph and Mary left their company and hastened back to Jerusalem. They did not at first think to go to the Temple. They sought him among their friends and kindred who were living in the city, but could not find him.
On the third day they went up to the Temple with heavy hearts, still looking for their boy. And there they found him, sitting in a company of the teachers of the law, listening to their words and asking them questions. Everybody who stood near was surprised to find how deep was the knowledge of this boy in the word of the Lord.
His mother spoke to him a little sharply, for she felt that her son had not been thoughtful of his duty. She said, "Child, why have you treated us in this way? Do you not know that your father and I have been looking for you with troubled hearts?"
"Why did you seek for me?" said Jesus. "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
They did not understand these words, but Mary thought often about them afterward, for she felt that her son was no common child and that his words had a deep meaning. Though Jesus was wise beyond his years, he obeyed Joseph and his mother in all things. He went with them to Nazareth, and lived contented with the plain life of their country home.
As the years went on Jesus grew from a boy to a young man He grew, too, in knowledge, and in wisdom, and in the favor of God. He won the love of all who knew him, for there was something in his nature that drew all hearts, both young and old.
Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter or worker in wood with Joseph; and when Joseph died, while Jesus was still a young man, Jesus, as the oldest son, took up the care of his mother and his younger brothers and sisters. And so in the work of the carpenter's shop and the quiet life of a country village, and the worship of the synagogue, the years passed until Jesus was thirty years of age.