Christ grows up in Galilee

Christ grows up in Galilee

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I, Book II, Poem II)

And He had much to learn; no royal road
To manhood’s slow experience eased His way:
Nor travail of the flesh nor of the mind,
Nor craving of the spirit, ache of heart,
By which boy treads his upward way to man,
Was spared to Him, who needed not that any
Should tell Him what was in man, for He knew.

No longer ran He freely in and out
The houses of the neighbours, of welcome sure:
The ripening Man saw envy, malice, pride,
Nay, cruelty, in this house and in that;
And—all His soul oppressed with weight of love
For those who sinned and those they sinned against,
His life all under rule of righteousness—
How could He but displease, and witness bear
Against this man’s offence, of that child’s wrong?
Stress of the Spirit compelled Him to protest;
Strong contradiction of sinners against Himself
Brought tears of anguish, early agony:
The loveliness and hatefulness of man
Waged their eternal warfare there as here;
And there, in Nazareth, did He strive long years—
Not for Himself—for justice, love, and God;
Forbearing, under stripes and strife of tongues,
Through scorn and buffetings, did His patience wax?
In all points tried as we, but without sin!
No harbour of the soul, green place of peace,
Was given the Christ of God wherein to grow.

He knew the poor man’s straight and simple thought;
Knew his warm heart, and narrow daily round;
Knew, too, his greed, his superstitions blind;
His family love and sacrifice; dark days,
When hunger sat in the home; his children’s plays—
“A wedding now, and now a funeral”
(How kind and gay a playmate found the children
In this young Son of Joseph’s house!); He knew
The ache of body, dulness of mind, of him
Who toils for bread: and, as He wrought the wood
At Joseph’s bench, did joy in work well done
Flow thence in benediction on all hands
That ply the useful tool, all brains that strive?

Letters, too, learned He, though not in the Schools:
The Scriptures of His people, every jot,
He knew by conning through laborious years,
A patient Scholar—spared no labour here:
And all the weary glosses on the text,
These, too, He knew; how, else, to separate
Wheat from the chaff in the full day to come?
We, His disciples, may conceive in part
How full the joy to find on written page
That very Word whose echoes in His heart
With more distinctness heard He day by day!
With what high filial rapture would He trace
His Father’s gradual working towards that end
Now given to Him to accomplish! How would grow
Conviction in Him, that He, indeed, the Son,
Come to reveal the Father, His brethren, save!
How would the mountains draw Him, ere the dawn
Had flushed their summits, to go forth to God,
And, laying His bared soul before His Father,
Wait dew of promise, of purpose, the strong meat,
To fortify the fragile frame of man—
His flagging mind, his weak, unstable heart,
That they the immanence of High God sustain,
He, very God!

We may not scan those vigils;

We know, as a meek Son, He knelt and prayed:
We know, as son assured of father’s wealth,
He made petition that His Father’s Will
Should in Him be accomplished. “Lo, I come,
In the volume of the Book it is written of Me,
To do Thy Will, My God; I am content.”
And, from the mount descending, how would He
Gather the motions and the modes of things
With quick creative eye, remembering how
(Scarce conscious He remembered), “Let there be”
Had issued from the Word by whom all came;—
The little ant upon her busy way,
The careless singing bird, the glowing flower—
How He would look on these with Artist’s eye
As on the finished picture wrought by Him!
A King, He walked the earth,—so meek a King!—
All origins and endings in His hand.

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