Jesus Worked with His Hands until His 30th Year
By: Ben Simpson
I find it difficult to imagine that for the greater part of his life Jesus was a common laborer. The one Christians call “Lord” went daily about his duties working with wood or stone, without much fanfare. Each day he arose, went to work until the work was through, carried on conversations, likely discussing the great stories and traditions of the people of Israel, went to bed, and then woke the next day to repeat his routine. It seems so mundane, so boring.
It seems so much like my life.
During the school year I work part time for the bus company. I wake early in the morning and drive for about two hours. I then break at midday. I return to work in the afternoon, and repeat the process. Then I go home. The next school day, I go back to work.
Each day I must remind myself that my work is meaningful. I play a valuable role in my community. I am paid less than the hourly wage of a garbage collector. But my job is important. How else would so many children make it to school on time?
After talking with numerous young adults, I have found that I am not the only one who has struggled with the meaningfulness of work. It seems that many of us have jobs that differ little from the type of work that Jesus did for the majority of his life. Yet I imagine that Jesus’ attitude toward his work differed greatly from mine. Jesus surely took pleasure in a job well done. His small accomplishments were surely something in which he delighted. Jesus went about a craft, and as he became more skilled with his hands, I am certain he found that work was something that could be enjoyed.
Jesus spent three years of his life, the part of his life we know the most about, carrying out a different type of work. He taught us about the Kingdom of a good, loving, and beautiful God. We ask, “What does Jesus’ teaching and ministry have to do with the time that he invested as a common day laborer?” The answer: everything.
We would be mistaken to believe that the life-with-God that Jesus described for us in the Sermon on the Mount and demonstrated for us in his numerous miracles was anything other than the type of life-with-God Jesus knew and experienced while carrying out the daily tasks of carpentry. There is no doubt that his experiences as a common laborer influenced and shaped how he talked about life in God’s Kingdom.
To think that Jesus spent the majority of his life doing secular work only to invest a few years in the religious sphere would be a terrible error. We can only assume that if Jesus were alive today, he might work as a bus driver. I would gladly invite him to work at my location. If he were hired, I would even be willing to split the sign-on bonus.
In a job like mine, I trust Jesus would demonstrate the type of life-with-God, also known as “Kingdom,” available to us all in the midst of our work. Paul understood this, writing in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
May our faith be fully integrated into all that we do, all that we say, all of our work, and all of our play.
Question for Discussion: How do you experience God in your everyday tasks?
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