I’ve been rereading a bit of Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy, ten years after my first reading. Just a few pages in, he makes a comment about Jesus and the life he lived that strikes me as remarkable, in a sense.
If [Jesus] were to come today he could very well do what you do. He could very well live in your apartment or house, hold down your job, have your education and life prospects, and live within your family, surroundings, and time. None of this would be the least hindrance to the eternal kind of life that was his by nature and becomes available to us through him. Our human life, it turns out, is not destroyed by God’s life but is fulfilled in it and in it alone. (14)
We’re fairly certain and comfortable with the notion that Jesus would have worked in his dad’s trade prior to striking off at 30-ish to do what we read about in the gospels. Few doubt that, as a carpenter’s son, Jesus probably was a carpenter too.
Mulling over Willard’s statement, however, I began to wonder for how long Jesus worked at this trade. Supposing he began working more or less full-time with Joseph at thirteen, the beginning of his adult life, Jesus may very well have built furniture and homes for 15-18 years before heading off to see his cousin John in the wilderness by the Jordan (Mk 1, parallels).
For 15 years Jesus was doing God’s perfect will for his life by planing tables and chairs.
What does that say about what you do for a living? Good things, I think.