The Hidden Life
WHEN we speak of the thirty
years preceding our Lord's public life as the Hidden Years, we may overlook the fact that, in the period which followed, Jesus lived a life which, on one side of
it, was also hidden. Of its existence we know from slight references made by the Evangelists, but these give no details. How could they ? Those hours of communion with the Father under the night sky cover a realm of spiritual experience which they had not, and could not, explore. What wrestling with the powers of evil lie behind their references to lonely vigils we can only faintly surmise. Occasionally, however. we are given hints. The Mount of Transfiguration and the Garden of Gethsemane suggest what may have taken place when there was no eye to see or ear to hear. Was it not to these spiritual combats Jesus referred when He declared that such cases as that of the epileptic boy could be cured only after prayer and fasting and when He said that He had been praying for Peter that this sturdy Apostle might be enabled to strengthen his brethren ?
Such allusions bring out very clearly one all-important fact, a fact so important indeed that without a knowledge of it we shall never understand our Master. The study of His active ministry, in which He shows Himself as an authoritative Teacher and possessed of powers that control the very elements of nature, might give an impression of self-sufficiency. The profound wisdom of His teaching and the marvellousness of His miracles have their explanation in that hidden life wherein He drew upon the resources of His Father. Without that Father. He declared. He could do nothing. In those hours, He absorbed God to an ex tent which made it possible for Him to say that those who had seen Him had seen the Father. Father and Son are co-relative terms and we can interpret neither without the other. To understand the mystic communion of the Son with the Father, we must survey the 'activities which were its outcome. To understand those activities, we must refer back to Jesus' 'hidden life with the Father —a life which we can no more see than we can see the other side of the moon.
We are subject to the same sort of dependence. As our Lord could declare that without the Father He could do nothing, so. we have to confess that, without Christ. we are impotent. Our active life will be in proportion to the extent to which its passive and receptive side has been cultivated. To allow ourselves to lose contact with Christ is inevitably to suffer spiritual impoverishment in our outward life and to become shallow, secularised and to lie open to the attack of evil forces. Drawing on His resources, there is nothing which we cannot do.
STANLEY B. JAMES.