From “Jesus in the World,” The Hope of the Gospel (1892).

Jesus, then, would have his parents understand that he was in his father’s world among his father’s things, where was nothing to hurt him; he knew them all, was in the secret of them all, could use and order them as did his father. To this same I think all we humans are destined to rise. Though so many of us now are ignorant what kind of home we need, what a home we are capable of having, we too shall inherit the earth with the Son eternal, doing with it as we would — willing with the will of the Father. To such a home as we now inhabit, only perfected, and perfectly beheld, we are travelling — never to reach it save by the obedience that makes us the children, therefore the heirs of God. And — thank God! — there the father does not die that the children may inherit; for — bliss of heaven! — we inherit with the Father.

All the dangers of Jesus came from the priests, and the learned in the traditional law, whom his parents had not yet begun to fear on his behalf… Little they imagined, when they found him where he ought to have been safest had it been indeed his father’s house, that there he sat amid lions — the great doctors of the temple! He could rule all the things in his father’s house, but not the men of religion, the men of the temple, who called his father their Father.

True, he might have compelled them with a word, withered them by a glance, with a finger-touch made them grovel at his feet; but such supremacy over his brothers the Lord of life despised. He must rule them as his father ruled himself; he would have them know themselves of the same family with himself; have them at home among the things of God, caring for the things he cared for, loving and hating as he and his father loved and hated, ruling themselves by the essential laws of being.

Because they would not be such, he let them do to him as they would, that he might get at their hearts by some unknown unguarded door in their diviner part. ‘I will be God among you; I will be myself to you — You will not have me? Then do to me as you will. The created shall have power over him through whom they were created, that they may be compelled to know him and his father. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.”

His parents found him in the temple; they never really found him until he entered the true temple — their own adoring hearts. The temple that knows not its builder, is no temple; in it dwells no divinity. But at length he comes to his own, and his own receive him; comes to them in the might of his mission to preach good tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance, and sight, and liberty, and the Lord’s own good time.

George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a Scottish Congregationalist minister, the author of many fantasy stories, and a noted poet. The author of more than fifty books, he is considered a pioneer in fantasy literature, and deeply influenced C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. The Hope of the Gospel is one of several collections of his imaginative sermons published during his lifetime.