Jesus Works Chapter One Jesus – A Man of Many Talents: Blue Collar Jesus
Jesus the Carpenter
When people think of Jesus and work, one of the first things they imagine is Jesus the carpenter. This is obviously due to the nature of His earthly father’s occupation, but is this where Jesus’ experience with craftsmanship ends? Jesus uses His vast experience with the craft and art of carpentry on numerous occasions; probably far more often than we realize. His parables and sermons are replete with words like cornerstone, line, and build. There’s a depth to His understanding and personal enjoyment of making something beautiful and useful that transcends the work itself and moves into a mentality and practice of being made new in His Kingdom. We’ll look more deeply at Jesus the carpenter in a later chapter.
Jesus the Shepherd
I am a sheep and the Lord is my Shepherd…We’ve sung this song many times. We all can probably recite Psalm 23 by heart. There’s something about being a shepherd that Jesus not only understood, but found extremely instructive for the Christian life and work. Jesus used this type of work to explain the relationship between Himself and us and He uses this example today as well. The work of a shepherd is one of love, sacrifice, and danger. It’s a place of authority and protection and care. Our Shepherd leads us in a way that would impress Jacob and David, even though they were veritable masters of the trade. Jesus as the Shepherd, watching over our souls will be discussed later. We’ll also look at His shepherding pattern that continues in His Kingdom today.
Jesus the Farmer
You might see a pattern emerging to the study. Yes, we’re approaching Jesus’ knowledge of occupations from what we would call “blue collar” jobs first. We’ll also look at some “professional” or “white collar” and finally the highest levels of work as society sees them. But, as the Farmer of farmers, Jesus understood a great deal about how to grow things. We’re very familiar with His parables concerning soil and seed. But, where does He draw this from and how does He interpret how this type of work can change humanity? You see with Jesus, it’s not just about using the farmer’s work as a model, but also telling those who are producers how they can use their own talents and might to produce for Him. Jesus, like you and I, loved to watch things grow and make something good and beautiful and delicious. When we look at Jesus the Farmer in a later chapter, we’ll see just how much joy He takes in things that grow!
Jesus the Fisherman
Jesus spent some serious time in boats. A full third of His core disciple group were fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) so He not only was exposed to fishing, but immersed in the full scope of a fisherman’s life. While fishing and the act of changing His followers into “fishers of men” were central to Jesus’ teaching, the act of fishing itself seemed to be of some importance to Him. Jesus didn’t just catch fish, He ate fish, multiplied fish, and even used fish in His ministry! Jesus the Fisherman was the best angler you’ll ever read about. He didn’t need radar equipment, waders, or even a fishing pole. He was that good! We’ll take a look into Jesus’ tacklebox in a later lesson to see how He viewed the act and work of fishing and how our own work can catch, produce, and multiply today.
Jesus the Cook
Food and eating together was an integral social and religious activity of the day when Jesus carried out His traveling ministry around Palestine. The Jews still carried out all of the various feasts that are mentioned in Numbers 28 and 29. Besides daily, weekly, and monthly offerings, there were five major religious festivals on the Jewish calendar and every one of them included cooking and eating. Jesus didn’t just cook, He created. When we think of the culinary arts, we tend to see them as a means to an end. Someone takes the food, adds some spices, applies heat in order to soften, warm, and sanitize the food, and then it’s ready for consumption. But, Jesus did more than this. He went a step further and made food something altogether new. He showed humanity how to look at food and other material necessities in a new way. The blessing of food today is no different than it was then. We still need it to live and we still need to look at it in a way that makes sense within the context of the Christian life. Not in a legalistic way, but in a way that takes our attention off of the material and directs our heart, soul, mind, and strength toward the spiritual.