July 28, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Isn’t this the carpenter?
The sixth chapter of Mark is dense with stories that have heavy theological implications—from the sending of the twelve to the feeding of the five-thousand. In the midst of it all, we find a single line that carries a lot of weight. When the crowds form in Jesus’s hometown, they see him and ask, “Isn’t this the carpenter?”
A quick line in a passage already packed with meaning, but an important one nonetheless. In keeping with our previous look at God being a God of the ordinary things, we take in a simple and profound truth about Jesus’s earthly life: he worked.
The gospels don’t say much about the majority of Jesus’s life. They focus on his ministry and his divine and extraordinary acts. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of his life was unimportant. As the passage indicates, Jesus’s humanity was a given. His identity as an ordinary man of his time did not have to be spelled out, as the people of his hometown attest. The majority of Christ’s incarnate life was spent as an average person (although we should recognize his un-ordinary experience as a refugee as well).
Jesus ate, he slept, and here we see, he worked. And though the word we translate “carpenter” could have meant a broader range of things back then, we know Jesus worked humbly and diligently with his hands. He learned his trade, refined his skills, and worked the daily and ordinary grind, like many of us.
In my previous devotion, we noted how God cares deeply about ordinary things because he made them. Here we see God’s care for ordinary things as he jumps right into the thick of them. Jesus lived alongside people, not only in the heights or valleys of our human experience, but experiencing the sweat and toil of regular life.
I’ve found this a great comfort, when slipping into the repetitive muck of everyday work, to realize that Christ—God incarnate—has done the same. And in that sense, he is with me in a deep and meaningful way. Our God isn’t a distant God. Not by a long shot. And it must mean something to our ordinary work and life that Christ—our lord and savior—saw it fit to take part.
Something to Think About:
Imagine Jesus at work. Think of him as a coworker, or working any other job or trade. How does thinking of Jesus as a working person shape your imagination of who God is? What does this say about God’s relationship to us?
Something to Do:
This week, when the mundane motions of life begin to weigh you down—or even if they don’t—dwell on the truth that Jesus has been there, and is with you now.
Jesus, you stepped into the grind of work, got your hands dirty alongside all of us. Today, and every day, remind us of your very real presence with us in our ordinary work. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Jesus the Builder
Jerome Blanco works at Fuller Theological Seminary. He received his MDiv from Fuller Seminary and his MFA from New York University.