I’ve always been slightly annoyed that we know little to nothing about Jesus’ life from age 12 to 30 (Luke 2:42; Matt. 4:17; John 2:11). That’s 18 years of silence and obscurity from the most polarizing figure in human history. Reclusive to the point that we protest, “how dare you hide yourself away for that long when so many needed you?”
Think of it. For 18 years no miracles – lepers, the lame, the sick – he let them all suffer. Disease and disasters of all kinds and he did nothing. Roman Tyranny: nothing. Think of a summer that he knew that the drought would be so bad the farmers would lose their crops. The one who controls the winds and the waves did nothing. Somewhere along the way Joseph, his mother’s husband, would die. Jesus stood by. No healing. No resurrection. For 18 years not one miracle, not one public sermon to establish that the Messiah is here. What was Jesus doing for 18 years while living in a poor, off the beat town like Nazareth, while the world was in desperate need?
Jesus was Enjoying Life without Greed or Guilt.
Let’s build the argument like this:
- Jesus said that the Old Testament Scriptures are all about him (Luke 24:44).
- Jesus said that when he came, he did so to fulfill (satisfy and live out) all the scriptures before him (Matt. 5:17).
- The book of Ecclesiastes is all about Jesus.
- In this book we read that the whole duty, the totality of what it means to be human, is to enjoy the good gifts of the Lord, because you don’t know at any moment when those good gifts will disappear (Ecc. 3:1-13; 12:13-14).
- Conclusion: For 18 years Jesus lived his human life enjoying the good gifts of life from his Father’s hand, without using his authority and power as the Son of God to alter what his Father chooses to give or withhold on a daily basis. Jesus was living a perfect human life in seclusion, in a normal, simple, day-to-day routine way.
If Jesus got up in the morning to get some eggs out of the hen house, and there were no eggs for breakfast, Jesus did not fix the problem for his mother.
If Jesus saw that the milking cow would contract an infection that spoiled the milk, Jesus did not “heal” the cow.
If Jesus knew that a terrible and horrific evil was approaching his community, he did alter the plans of wicked men.
When I say that Jesus was living the words of Wisdom (Ecc.), I do not mean to say that he did not weep, grieve, work at, and agonize over the brokenness of the world that he lived in. But I do mean to say that Jesus lived his life without Greed or Guilt.
Greed. Jesus never gave into self-pity; discontent with things that he did not have; greedy for things that he never owned or experienced; he never became greedy for reputation and fame and greedy and impatient for making things right when his Father was “too late”.
Guilt. Also, you wouldn’t see Jesus sulking, despising the very things of earth as if they were evil. He attended festivals and weddings, went fishing, built things out of wood, slept at night, enjoyed good food, brought in the harvest, and worshiped God on a daily and weekly schedule, in his Father’s Word, in his Father’s house. I don’t think that Jesus ever uttered under his breath, “I feel so guilty for enjoying the things that I and my Father made.”
On one hand, we are to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” – Colossians 3:2.
But on the other hand, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
And a verse that teaches both:
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” – 1 Timothy 6:17
Don’t love the things of this life. And, Enjoy the things of this life!
We are to neither permit greed to swallow up our hearts with discontent for things that we cannot have and cannot fix, nor are we to repudiate and shun the good gifts of life simply because there is so much brokenness in the world. Greed or Guilt will keep you from Enjoying Life as a Gift from Your Father in Heaven.
Love of money and reputation and discontent and self-pity will destroy you and others around you. When we say no to the world’s love affair with the things of this earth, we are not shunning God’s good gifts, we are putting them in their proper order of importance. Things are passing away.
But, when we begin to feel dirty and undeserving as we enjoy some homemade peach ice-cream, a good swim, a long nap, and refreshing conversation and fellowship in a safe home, it is because we have forgotten that these things were never earned in the first place – they are gifts of grace from a loving Father who loves to give that we may enjoy Him who is the giver.
> Our guard against loving the things of this life too much is not a repudiation of things, but an ordering of Real importance. We are to be afraid of losing our Love for God as Greed and Guilt undermine our Enjoyment of this Life.
> “We Can Change the World” is too often, an ego trip of an exaggerated level of Self-Importance. Your life is not that significant! Most people can’t remember to change the filter in their furnace or keep their room clean, even less, “change the world.” If Jesus did not “change the world” for 18 years, AND, he did not waste his life at the same time, then, take a chill pill and get over yourself. No one’s life mattered more to the earth than Jesus’ did – and for 18 years he lived a simple – poor – irrelevant life, in terms of how the world values living and relevancy.
> Your Identity and Self-Worth is not in your Performance, but rather it is in Christ, who did not “Change the World” for 18 years. Too often we are greedy to make a difference, to fix a problem, to prevent a disaster. Yes, let us not be indifferent to the needs of our family and friends, and the sorrows of mankind all over the earth. Love your Neighbor is the Lord’s command. But do not forget that Jesus fulfilled that command for 18 years while he performed no miracle, healed none, resurrected none, spared none, and prevented none. But he did love others through their sorrows and did what any God-Honoring Human ought to do.
But that was his mark on the world. The way man is supposed to live his life toward God and his fellowman. Loving his Father, and loving others. If it takes miracle working power, and great influence upon mankind in order to have true Identity and Self-Worth, then for 18 years, not even Jesus was worth living. But his life did have value. And so does yours. Love God. Love your Church. Love the Word. Love your Lord. Fight against the encroachment of greed and discontent, and fight against needless guilt that robs you of enjoying the blessings of the Lord, even in the face of so much sorrow and tears in the world.
> Finally, you are free to live an Important yet Simple Life of Loving Christ and Fellowman. A simple life is not unimportant. It’s loving. You are living your life by God’s grace, loving your Lord and serving a few others along the way to your new earth. A life that continues after the grave.
(some thoughts on this subject were helped along by Joe Rigney in his book, The Things of Earth)