Keith Wishum: Working in the steps of Jesus
He didn’t have to work, but he did.
If your father were the wealthiest man in town, would you work another day? If you could walk off the job with the certainty of knowing that you would never lack for money, would you walk away? Would you run?
His family was royalty. He was the son of a great king, a prince living in the lap of luxury. His father owned everything in sight, so he didn’t have to work.
But he did. Not clean, easy jobs in his father’s offices either. He did the grunt work of carpentry — baking in the sun, laboring under heavy loads. That’s not how we know him, not what we think of when we hear his name, but it’s true. He worked.
What we think mostly about his birth: angels singing in the skies, strange stars marking the site, wise men bearing gifts. That we know. And we know his later years — displays of power, healing the sick, calming storms, and raising the dead. But after the glorious birth and before the spectacular ministry, Jesus of Nazareth did the daily grind for nearly 20 years. Have you ever wondered why?
Jesus worked because he came here to “be made like his brothers in every way” (Hebrews 2:17). He worked because humans were created to perform meaningful work. Adam was placed in the Garden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
Jesus worked because God intended for work to bring pleasure. “There is nothing better than for a man to enjoy his work (Ecclesiastes 3:22). That every man may eat and drink and find satisfaction in his toil, this is the gift of God” (v. 13).
He worked because he chose to, not because he had to. He saw work as an opportunity, not as a punishment. That difference in outlook makes a difference in outcome — and enjoyment.
Typically, we spend one-third of our time working. Much of our lives revolve around jobs. Doesn’t it make sense to enjoy it as much as possible — to find satisfaction in our toil?
Your work matters. It matters to you, to your family, to your community. And, it matters to your God! Take pride in it. Feel good about your contribution. If nothing else, remember that, as you trudge off to work, you are walking in the footsteps of the Son of God.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.