What did Jesus do before His Ministry?

Photo Credit: The Swedish History Museum, Stockholm via Compfight cc
Definitely not the tools Jesus would have used, but they’re old carpentry tools. Photo Credit: The Swedish History Museum, Stockholm via Compfight cc

We know very little about what Jesus did between the incident at the Temple in Luke 3 and His appearance at the wedding in Cana in John 2. We really only have the description that Luke gave us in Luke 2:52, “And Jesus kept on growing—in wisdom, in physical stature, in favor with God, and in favor with others.” (1)

After reading Hugh Halter’s new book Flesh, I began to wonder what was Jesus’ life like before He started His ministry by turning water into wine? What kind of importance did His life before ministry have? Halter gives us something to think about when he writes,

“Can you picture Jesus smashing His finger, biting His lip, dropping to one knee, and wincing in painful laughter? Can you see Him waking up in the morning, heading to the facilities (likely an olive tree), and looking around to make sure no one was watching? Can you imagine Jesus with gas after a bad meal of hummus and sardines? Reflect on Him freezing cold, huddling next to His brothers or mother to try to stay warm. It’s easy to picture Him as a baby, but what about as an awkward teenager with raging hormones? What about a twenty-eight-year-old virgin who was maybe one of the last single men in his small village? Can you see Him working long days with His father, going home exhausted, falling asleep, and then waking with a sore neck and swollen fingers?” (2)

After reading this, and thinking about what Luke 2:52 says, I began to wonder if Jesus’ unpublished life is far more important than we realize. Thinking about how Jesus lived His human life, causes me to think that He in such a way that He was living out his mission in every day life. I believe that He lived out the commands of the Old Testament in a faithful way and in such a way that before doing any miracles He was drawing people back to God and preparing them to hear His message. I imagine Jesus learning the trade of Joseph and working out in the community interacting with people in a way that was helping people see the kingdom. He may not have been preaching or doing miracles but he was faithful in His work and showed love to everyone He met. Maybe He went to work with people who had troubles in their lives and He was able to offer them words of wisdom from Scripture and help them turn back the way of living that God called his people to in the Old Testament.

Why is this important?

We believe and proclaim that Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, but we mostly think of His ministry life. What about his everyday life? If we miss Jesus’ perfect life in the rest of His life, then we risk losing the example of humanness that Jesus gives us. Hugh Halter follows his series of questions about Jesus with the fact that if we cannot see Jesus as human, “it will be hard to relate to Him and even harder to live like Him. If you see Him only as God, you may worship Him or study Him, but you will miss the joy of emulating Him.” (2) I’m beginning to believe that we need to recognize that Jesus lived around 30 years of “normal” life before embarking on His ministry. If we really do believe that he was perfect in living out the commands of God then He perfectly lived out the mission of God on a daily basis.

Jesus is human and shows us how to be human. He spent around 30 years of his life living out God’s will on a daily basis. He didn’t just show up as a full grown man doing miracles. Let us live out our daily lives and remember that Jesus did the same always giving glory to His father and, I believe, helping other people know the Father even when he was just a carpenter and probably through his carpentry.

(1) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
(2)Halter, Hugh (2014-02-01). Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth (p. 81). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.

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