Jesus @ work before 30

Have you ever wondered which portion of Christ’s life is to be our primary pattern?  His hidden years or His public years?

And from the Father’s perspective, is there really any difference? (I’ll tell you upfront: No. But people look at things much differently than God does!)

Evangelicals (and especially Pentecostals and Charismatics) usually point to Christ’s final three years as the model for our lives and ministries. These were the years of His public works and miracles. (And we have a written history of a lot of these years.)

The works that I do shall you do also, and greater works than these shall you do because I go to the Father….

But there are eighteen totally missing years in the biblical record of the life of Jesus.  The Bible gives us clear details of the period surrounding His birth, then sketchy details up to age 12, or so.  But then there is total silence and an apparent time warp up to age 30, when His public ministry began.  We are told nothing in the sacred Scripture about those 18 middle years. 

As a carpenter, Jesus would have mostly worked for the public. He was a craftsman.  I wonder what the furniture He made looked like?  I wonder if He was ever called upon to make a coffin?  Did a sick person ever come into His shop in those days?  Did a neighbor child die?  Did an ox cart crush a friend’s leg?  The answer has to be “yes”. Did he ever fashion a cross for the Romans?

What did Jesus do about human suffering and the tough circumstances he observed around Him?  We are not told.  But we are told that His first miracle didn’t occur until He turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  

Jesus was keeping in step with His Father even during the 18 “silent” years.  He didn’t launch His own initiatives.  He didn’t attempt to improve on the justice of God.  He didn’t fret over the things that were or were not being done around Him.  He didn’t feel anxious or responsible to fix everything or everyone. He simply walked with His Father and lived simply and contentedly for those years. He allowed the Father to develop His character, to teach Him how to love and serve people in the simple things.  He learned patience and submission to God-ordained authority.  He studied the Scriptures and discovered His destiny from the inspired pages therein.

One of the dangers of public ministry for us is that many times we have not learned how to live secretly with the Father first! And so we use ministry for our own purposes…to create an identity for ourselves…to feed our insecurities…to establish ourselves as a success…to earn the favor of people…and on and on.

The first 30 years of Christ’s life were not wasted years.  No, we have no record of any major accomplishment from those days. He apparently left no major impression on anyone in those days.  He didn’t go to college or seminary.  He didn’t write a book or hold public (or private) meetings.  He didn’t heal the sick or raise the dead.  Apparently, He didn’t disciple anyone either.

He simply walked with the Father through the ups and downs of life in His own family and community setting. He learned to love God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself.  He learned how to recognize His Father’s goodness and presence in the normal things of life.  He learned how to serve and comfort and share and celebrate and mourn.

And He was well-pleasing to His Father in all of this!  Remember, the Father’s audible voice of confirmation (“Thou art My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”) was not at the end of His public ministry, but rather at the end of His 30 quiet years!

3 thoughts on “Jesus @ work before 30

  1. Michael Oakes says:

    Pastor,

    What a great reminder of God’s own nature. He is so very interested in the simple things. The small details of life so very evident in everything He has created. The humility even that He has shown us in His own perfection!

    I wonder Dane…As a father, It is obvious that boys try to emulate at that young age their own father and during those years it appears to me also thirst inwardly about what connections in character are revelavent in their own life. Do you suppose that Jesus and His Father’s Spirit or Wonderful Consular were working that out during those impressionable years?

    Just a thought

    Love ya Brother,
    Michael

    • Hey Michael,

      As always, your comments are insightful. Yes, I think that Jesus experienced the “impressionable years” as you say. In the temple at age 12, he was learning and asking questions of the Scribes and teachers of the Law. He told His mother, “Did you not know I have to be in my Father’s business?” He was definitely growing into what He was to become.

      The thought that Jesus grew and developed and learned….is sometimes hard to reconcile with the reality that He was not only fully man, but fully God. Does God grow, learn, or develop? No. Jesus had two natures. He was fully God and fully man. But He was not two persons. He was one.

      How these two natures worked together as one Person is a mystery. Jesus emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant. The Bible says that He learned obedience through what He suffered…That He was tempted in every way like us…but was without sin. This means that He faced trials and challenges not as an omniscient and omnipotent deity, but as One who was fully man, in utter submission to His Father, but being in no way inferior to the Father in the process. The mystery of godliness is great….

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