Have you ever studied the life of Jesus? I’m not just referring to His 3 years of intense ministry, his miracles, his death and resurrection, I’m talking about His whole 33 years of life. I am talking about His childhood, life as a carpenter, his teenage years and most of his adult life before people knew Him as anything other than the wise son of Mary. His life is a whole story yet many of us have totally missed an astounding part of it. A part that came to pass before hardly anyone knew Him as the Christ!
You might say “But there’s not much written about his adult life before His public ministry began!” And you’d be right! You could also add that “We only have a few short glimpses into his childhood…and then nothing until His 3 years of miracles, healing and ministry” also true!
But let me ask you this, when did words become the ONLY way to tell a story? If you watch a movie or a play or just have a conversation with someone, you will find that sometimes the pauses and the silent moments speak as loudly as shouting. Spaces are not always empty.
An artist knows to use the whites on a canvas as part of their masterpiece. As they fill in the colors, the white areas come to life and become part of the whole grand picture! So lets take a few moments to fill in the color of what we know about Jesus’ life and then maybe the silent places will come to life and tell us a tale that will rock our world as Christians. A story that strips away our need to prove ourselves and change the world, and brings us back to a relationship with God, which changes EVERYTHING.
So what do we know of Jesus’ life? We know that He was FULLY human (Hebrews 2:17), so as a child that probably means he took naps, was potty trained, fell, busted his knees & cried! He had brothers and sister that he played with and probably wrestled with too.
We also know that he was FULLY God and was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) So even though he was tempted like every other boy, He did not EVER chose to do wrong. That must have been crazy to be his siblings. If I had always done the right thing, I think I would have been seriously picked on by my brother and sister!
We have a bit of an idea about His childhood here but I do wish I could have been there to see it! And though the Bible is silent on the details, we KNOW that He was growing and knowing that He was God’s son. He was full of wisdom and truth beyond what anyone in His life could grasp. We see this all in a beautiful scene that takes place when He is 12 years old. Don’t skip this part! It’s the beginning of this painting where we begin to see that Jesus’ life was more than an epic few years!!!
Here Jesus is in the temple, a young boy blowing the minds of the scholars and teachers far older than Him!
“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it….Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends….After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them….And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:43-52
Apparently that was not a normal thing for Jesus to do!! His mom was clearly surprised that He would run off and it would appear that up until this point, Jesus went where they asked and did what they expected. Then comes this beautiful moment at the temple! Jesus HAD to be in his Father’s (God’s) house!! This was His heart and His life.
This event colors in some of our painting and leaves the white spaces breathtakingly beautiful! HIS HEART WAS ALWAYS FOR HIS FATHER. This was His direction and His life. The grand moments that are written in scripture and the quiet moments that are not, were all part of the perfect plan.
After this big moment in the temple when people see He is super special, he went home and was obedient to his parents and all I can say is WHAT? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?! He steps from obscurity and into the limelight for the briefest of moments and everything in me wants to shout “Don’t go back home Jesus!! Stay in the public eye! Start doing your miracles and don’t lead a simple “carpenters life” for most of your life! I see what you did in 3 years, imagine what you could have done if you had just stayed here in the temple and started doing amazing things!
But Jesus goes home, He grows in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. And nothing else is written until around 18 years later!!! His first miracle is not until he is 30 YEARS OLD! WHAT?! Please explain this silence, this gap! And as if God says “Thank you for asking” we get to read theses life altering words much later in Jesus’ life-
“Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
“For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.”
“Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”
Do you hear what this says?! From the beginning, His birth, His childhood, His unassuming life as a carpenter, and EVERY day of His revolutionary leadership, Jesus desire was not for fame, not for glory, not for proving Himself. He followed His Father. And for most of His 33 years of his life IT DIDN’T LOOK IMPRESSIVE! It looked like total walking in step with God. Waiting, growing. learning. It looked simple. And it was HARD! Can you imagine?! God in the body of a man, living a simple life when He MADE LIFE?! Wow.
The verses we read in Luke said that as Jesus was growing up, He grew in favor with God and man. Through His perfect life people respected Him. They recognized something powerful in Him, but it is very important to recognize that they did not know He was the son of God! When He started preaching later, the people from His town were shocked at His wisdom and were like “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” It’s safe to say, they had not known Him to be a leader or teacher yet. (Mark 6:3)
He was just a carpenter to them! That means that as Jesus lived the perfect life as an adult, it was still a life that was not showy or even very noticeable for many years. He was just “The son of Mary & Joseph!” to most people. This blows my mind. Even as I write this I can hardly breathe at the wonder of it all! The Savior of the world walked hand-in-hand with His Father & for 3 years that looked like the life of a revolutionist and savior but for 30 years, it looked like the life of a worker, a brother, a son, a friend, a man.
If this does not make us stop in our tracks of “religion” and performance, I don’t know what will. The savior of the world spent years of His life NOT doing any noticeable, high profile ministry. Because His time had not come yet! Because He did nothing apart from His Father & because the will of God was for Him to walk in the shoes of a loving carpenter here on earth.
Take a moment, ask God to really let this soak into your soul! Jump into the heart of God right now! Jesus gave us an example of a heart not bound up in performance, a life not solely centered on plane tickets to book, church functions to attend, ministries to start, or impressions to make! We are being invited by example to follow the one that made us and loves us. The only one who is capable of truly changing the world even in our simple moments.
Are you okay with this? Am I okay with this? Do we know the kind of dependence and surrender to God that will follow Him into the background? In our culture we have our idea of what the “amazing christian life” looks like, but I have to say that Jesus was not at all concerned with looks but about doing His Father’s will.
I look at this beautiful life of our Savior and I see a cry to this generation of Christians. GET OFF THE ENDLESS CYCLE OF PERFORMANCE AND COME CLOSE TO GOD!
We don’t know exactly what those unwritten years in Jesus’ life looked like, but we know that He lived them perfectly and full of love. They were full of kindness, hope, truth and wisdom, they were full of His Father. They are one, God and Jesus and their heart was one. They were there to save mankind because they loved us SO MUCH. And the timing and the plan was totally different than we would have EVER expected!
Our minds woulds say “GET ON WITH IT! CHANGE THE WORLD! RUN! DO! PROVE! and yet there was none of that pressure. Jesus did nothing apart from the father, from the years of relative obscurity, to the years of massive followings and mind blowing miracles, there was no rush, no hurry, no shame over leading an unimpressive life.
Is this how you live your life? Is this how I live mine? I have been asking myself that after having come through a season where it left like I was failing! No one could point at my life and say “Wow! Look at all she is doing!” I had been in a season of ministry for a lot of my life and I felt like I was doing great things and then “BAM!” suddenly I am being drawn into a season of stillness and I was so upset because I wanted to be out there changing the world! I had no time to listen to God because I was so busy wanting to do things for Him! And that is a sobering realization.
Let me share one last story with you before I wrap this up. This is a scene from later in Jesus’ ministry. It gives us a picture of His heart and we get to see the same Jesus that lived unwritten for many years, living out the same lifestyle in the middle of His world famous years. It is a long story so I will just paraphrase it here (read it for yourself in Mark 5)
A man asks Jesus to come with him because His daughter is to the point of death. HIS BELOVED DAUGHTER IS DYING! Jesus agrees to go with him and on his way, a lady with a disease touches his robe and she is healed. He stops. He asks who touched him and everyone is like “How could anyone tell, with so many people around you?”! But Jesus asks that question and finally the woman comes forward, and he blesses her. After that, someone comes up to say that the girl he was going to heal is now dead. (spoiler warning, he brings her back to life later)
DO you hear this? Jesus is on His way to heal a girl who is DYING and HE STOPS!!!
“NO! GO JESUS! WHY ARE YOU STOPPING?! Priorities!!! SOMEONE NEEDS YOU! RUN! Surely you already know who touched you! DO you really need to stop and talk to her? In fact, she is already healed. No need to slow down!”
But He stops and He calls this woman forward because He loves her. And His mind is not going 100 miles an hour, always towards the next great thing He will do! He stops because stopping is sometimes as important as rushing forward & he has a lifetime as a carpenter to prove it. He STOPS because that is what God is doing and the world is changed.
When was the last time YOU stopped? When was the last time you asked God to lead your life ANYWHERE HE DESIRED? When was the last you did what He asked when He said “Be still and know that I am God”? You can spend your life racing to prove yourself and change the world and you will waste it all if it is not wrapped inside a relationship and oneness with God.
God created the world with a few words. What would take us 100 years to accomplish in our frantic race, God can accomplish in 10 words. All our fighting and striving MUST come home to the open arms of God! It’s only from an attitude of total love, obedience and surrender that we can impact the world forever. THIS IS HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD! HE WAS ONE WITH GOD AND LIVED EVERY SECOND AS PART OF GOD’S PLAN. When we step away from that and start building our own empire for Jesus that He never asked us to, it will crumble. Or we will crumble.
God will lead some through seasons of changing the world by being a mother, a father, some will step into full time ministry, some will step out of a ministry, some will go to the ends of the earth to share Jesus and others will pray as they lay sick in bed. Some will go far and some will stay close, some will shout to the world and some will whisper in their child’s ears of the love of God.
But let it all be done from a heart of surrender to God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit and never out of a need to prove ourselves or to become great. Let us be brave and bold and wild and extravagant with love because we know the Love of God! Let us walk in a life of total abandonment to Christ whether it is behind the scenes or in the front. Let it all be done with passion and love for God. It may take us into mangers and temples and deserts and it may teach us to be carpenters. It may bring us into fame and leadership and into death. It may take us anywhere but it will ALWAYS take us deeper into God’s heart and love for us.
If I could reach out and hold your hand right now, I would look into your eyes and I’d tell you these words from our Jesus.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it s that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”