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Fishermen and “Religious Professionals”

Series: The Word Before Work Foundations
Devotional: 5 of 21
Published: April 20, 2018

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? (Mark 6:3a)

Today’s verse contains one of the only details about Jesus’s life between the ages of twelve and thirty when he began his public ministry. For approximately eighty percent of his adult life, Jesus wasn’t preaching. He was working as a carpenter.

Given Jesus’s ultimate purpose, this truth should stop us in our tracks.

God could have placed Jesus in a priestly household like John the Baptist or the household of a Pharisee like Paul. But instead, God chose for Jesus to grow up in the household of a carpenter, doing work that looked very similar to the work you and I do today.

Why? Of course, we can’t be sure, but here’s my guess: I think Jesus’s vocation is meant to remind us of the inherent dignity and goodness of work. I think God is pointing us back to Genesis to remind us that he is a God who creates things for others—just like a carpenter. I think he’s saying, “Your work that others call ‘secular’ is crucial to my kingdom-building project.”

And of course, Jesus reaffirmed this when he called his disciples. Given that his ministry was about preaching “the gospel of the kingdom,” you might expect Jesus to enlist the help of Pharisees and other religious professionals. But instead, he called fishermen and tax collectors.

Over and over again, Jesus vividly reminded us that all work matters to God. How? I’ll answer that question directly in a few days, but first, we need to get to the cross and see how the gospel shapes our narrative of work. That’s what we will explore over the next two days.

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