AT THE AGE OF TWELVE
 EVERY year, Joseph and Mary went on a long
journey. They set out in the early spring-time,
when the leaves were green and the
blossoms were pink and white, and before the
days grew hot. First they walked a long way
to the east, till they came to the river Jordan,
on whose banks they pitched their tent and
spent the night. Then they turned to the
south, following the course of the river all that
day and the day after, and avoiding the country
of the Samaritans; for the Jews and the
Samaritans were enemies. The third night
they slept in Jericho. The next morning, turning
to the west, they began to climb the hills,
along a rough road which was shut in on each
side by steep walls of rock. So they came to
Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, and a little
farther on, at a sudden turn of the way, they
beheld Jerusalem. That was their destination.
On this annual journey, Joseph and Mary
 had many companions. Indeed, it would not
have been safe for them to go alone, for the
roads were beset by robbers. Even between
Jericho and Jerusalem men sometimes fell
among thieves, who plundered and beat them
and ran away leaving them half dead. People
who went on journeys were therefore accustomed
to travel in companies or caravans.
Joseph and Mary, when they started on their
long walk, would have many of their friends
with them. Half of the people of the place
would be going on the same journey; and on
the way other groups would join them, coming
out of other villages and bound in the
For every year a great festival was held at
Jerusalem, called the Feast of the Passover.
It was kept in remembrance of the delivery of
the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.
The people were slaves to the Egyptians, and
one night a plague of death fell on the houses
of the masters; in every house somebody was
dead. But the destroying angel passed over
the houses of the slaves. That night the slaves
 rose up, and escaped out of Egypt. So they
became a nation. The Passover was the national
birthday. The Fourteenth of Nisan,—for
that was their name for the month,—was
like our Fourth of July. It was accordingly
the custom to keep the Fourteenth of Nisan,
and all the following week, as a national holiday.
But instead of keeping the festival, each
in his own home and town, all the people, as
many as could get away, gathered at Jerusalem.
Of course, there were many who had to
stay behind, to mind the babies, and tend the
stores. But there were great numbers, like
Joseph and Mary, who were able so to arrange
their affairs as to go on the spring pilgrimage.
One can easily see that they must have had
a merry time of it. Briskly they walked in the
early morning along the pleasant ways, stopping
to drink out of the brooks which ran
among the hills, resting and sleeping at noon
in the shade of the woods, talking cheerfully
one with another, meeting new people, and
seeing new sights. Thus they journeyed, like
the Pilgrims of the Canterbury Tales.
Some-  times, as they pitched their tents at night, or
started in the morning, somebody with a strong
voice would begin to sing, and all the others
would sing with him. The Psalms from the
one hundred and twentieth to the one hundred
and thirty-fourth were pilgrim songs.
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh even from the Lord,
Who hath made heaven and earth."
So they sang beside the mountains.
"They that put their trust in the Lord shall be even
as the Mount Siou,
Which may not be removed, but standeth fast for ever.
The hills stand about Jerusalem;
Even so standeth the Lord round about his people,
From this time forth for evermore."
That was the song when the holy hills came
into view. Finally, they joined in a great glad
chorus as they entered the city itself:—
"I was glad when they said unto me,
We will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built
As a city that is at unity in itself.
For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord,
To testify unto Israel,
To give thanks unto the name of the Lord."
Of course, on so long a journey it was impossible
to take the little children. They must
wait at home till they were old enough and
strong enough to go on this wonderful pilgrimage
and see the sights of the wide world.
Until then they must be content to listen to the
stories of their fathers and mothers about their
adventures by the way and the splendors of
the holy city. But now, at last, our Lord was
twelve years old, and his time came. Out they
started in the coolness and beauty of the spring
morning, making their way down the valley
by the river, and sleeping at night in tents
under the full moon; for the Passover always
came when the moon was full. So he stood
presently on the side of the Mount of Olives
and gazed on the great city.
Jerusalem was built on hills, and had a
high, stout wall of stone about it, with a tower
at every turn. Within the walls were crowded
the white, flat-roofed houses, clinging to the
 terraced hillsides. And above all shone the
splendid temple. To the temple the pilgrims
made their way, Joseph and Mary holding
Jesus by the hand. Entering by a great arched
gateway, they found themselves in the temple
inclosure. This was a wide court, paved with
stone, and surrounded by four high walls.
Against the walls on the four sides were
porches, their roofs upheld by pillars. The
court was crowded with people; some of them
being pilgrims like themselves, while others
were engaged in carrying on a noisy trade,
selling doves and lambs for sacrifices and
changing money, calling out at the tops of
their voices. In the midst stood the temple
itself. A great stairway of fourteen steps led
to an entrance which was called the Beautiful
Gate. This opened into a large room, without
roof, called the Court of the Women. Here
Mary waited, while Joseph and Jesus climbed
another stone stairway to a room called the
Court of Israel. This was separated by a low
barrier from a third room called the Court of
the Priests. Standing beside the barrier they
 could see a large stone altar, and behind it a
stone building with a porch and a roof. In
this building, hidden behind doors and curtains,
were two rooms, one called the Holy
Place, in which stood the golden altar of incense;
and the other called the Holy of
Holies, an empty room, through whose floor
jutted up the bare rock of the top of the hill.
There in the Court of Israel they offered a lamb
for their sacrifice. A priest took the lamb and
killed it, burned a part of it in the fire which
was blazing and smoking on the stone altar,
and gave the rest to Joseph. So with the lamb
upon his shoulder Joseph, taking Jesus, rejoined
Mary in the Court of the Women, and they all
betook themselves to the place where they were
to stay, and where with friends and relatives
they had arranged to eat the Passover Supper.
Then they all sat down together when the
evening came, and the roasted lamb was on
the table, and there were bitter herbs, and
bread and wine. And at an appointed moment
in the meal, Jesus as the youngest of the company
said, "What does this service mean?"
 And his father in answer told the story of the
Passover. Then they all sang songs: which
we have in our book of Psalms, from the one
hundred and thirteenth to the one hundred
"This is the day which the Lord hath made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Help me now, O Lord:
O Lord, send us now prosperity.
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Then there was a week of visiting, and seeing
sights, and going to services in the
temple; and so the festivities were over and they
started to go home. A great many other people,
thousands of them, were starting at the
same time, and there was much confusion. But
at last they got safely out of the city gate and
over the Mount of Olives on the way down
hill to Jericho, when they missed Jesus. They
had noticed, of course, that he was not by
their side, but that had not surprised them.
He was twelve years of age, a sturdy,
independent lad, and in the caravan there were
many whom he knew, some of them his
rela-  tives. So they said, "He is with his cousins or
some other playmates. We shall see him when
it is time for supper." But supper-time came,
and even bedtime, and he did not appear.
Joseph and Mary went about in the dark, with
torches, asking all their neighbors where he
was; but nobody knew. At last, with heavy
hearts, in deep distress, they hurried back
again along the road to Jerusalem, seeking
But Jerusalem was a very large city; and
just then, as we have seen, it was in confusion,
with crowds of people coming and going.
Joseph and Mary went to the place where they
had lodged, but he was not there. They
inquired of all the people whom they knew,
but could find no trace of him. One day had
already been spent in going as far as Jericho;
another day in returning; it was now the third
day. And the King of Glory, who had been
so solemnly and wonderfully intrusted to their
care, was nowhere to be found.
At last, they looked in the temple. There
in one of the porches was a company of people
 sitting on the floor, as the custom was, and
listening while wise men taught. The teachers
were called doctors; not doctors of medicine,
but doctors of divinity, teachers of religion.
And in the midst of the gray-bearded doctors,
not only hearing them but asking them questions,
was the child Jesus, while all who heard
him were astonished at his understanding and
answers. And when his parents saw him they
were both glad and amazed; glad to find him
after their long search, but amazed that their
son, this little lad of Nazareth, should be sitting
so serenely in the midst of those learned
people, understanding what they said.
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
But the boy had done wrong, so they
thought. He had caused them great distress.
And his mother said, "Son, why hast thou
thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I
have sought thee sorrowing." She reproached
him, with tears in her eyes, as mothers must.
But he answered, "How is it that you sought
me? Did you not know that I would be found
in my heavenly Father's house?" He meant
that they should have known him better than
 to search for him from street to street. They
should have looked first in the temple.
It shows what he had been doing all that
week, while other boys were gazing at the shop
windows, or admiring the bright uniforms and
shining lances of the castle guard. He had
spent his time in the holy house, attending to
the words of the wise; like the child who loves
to get away by himself with a book.
It shows, too, that already he had that habit
of attention which is a part of greatness.
When he was interested, he thought of nothing else.
By and by, we shall see him thinking so
deeply that for a long while, even for
days, he forgets to eat. Now he forgets what
time it is, and how his father and mother
are starting off for home. All his mind is on
the words of the wise men. That was different
from the ways of James and Joses and
the others. His father and mother could not
But he turned about and took their hands
and went away between them, and so came
to Nazareth again and took up the old life.
Every day he did just what they wished him
 Every day he learned his lessons, and
said his prayers, and did his work, growing
tall and strong; and everybody loved
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