Jesus: 30 Years of Ordinary

Selected Scriptures

Tom Pennington  •  December 27, 2020
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Well, Lord willing, with the new year, we will return to our study of Paul's letter to the Romans. But today I want us to finish up this Christmas season by considering our Lord again, but from a little different vantage point than we have the last three weeks. On Friday, we had the privilege of celebrating the birth of Christ. Three months from now, if the Lord tarries, we will celebrate His death and resurrection, the culmination of His three and a half year ministry. Those two celebrations really summarize what most people know, and all they know, about the life of Jesus Christ. Two brief periods of time, one encompassing His birth, the other His ministry and death, and both of those periods marked by events that can only be called extraordinary.

I think if we're honest, we are all drawn to those two periods, in part because within all of us we secretly long to live extraordinary lives, to be or to do something great. I think that's why, for those of us who have read James Thurber's short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it just sort of resonates with us all. We want to be or to do something great. But for most of us, let's be honest, greatness is a fleeting dream. Instead, our lives are often predictable, pedantic, and profoundly ordinary. We work. We spend our evenings and weekends with our families. We worship, we eat, we sleep, and then we repeat the cycle, for decades. The world looks at such an ordinary life, and it says something like this, what a waste, what a waste.

But this morning I want to challenge the conventional wisdom. In fact, I want you to consider a revolutionary life changing thought. And that is, most of Jesus' earthly life was profoundly ordinary. In fact, between His miraculous birth and His three and a half year ministry, there were 30 years of ordinary. As we anticipate beginning the new year, 2021, I want us to learn some crucial lessons from those 30 years of ordinary obscurity. Here's how I want to approach it. First of all, I want us to survey what we know about those 30 years from Scripture and then, after we've surveyed that, I want to come, at the end, to ask the question, what are the profound life changing lessons that you and I can learn from those 30 silent years.

Over the last three weeks, we have carefully studied the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Christ from Matthew's gospel. And at times we've looked at Luke's gospel as well. I want us to pick up with what transpires exactly after the birth of Christ. For that, turn with me to Luke 2, turn to Luke's gospel. As we survey the events of those 30 years, we're going to see Jesus' life unfold in several scenes, and I hope you'll be able to track with me as we look at each of those scenes.

The first scene that follows His miraculous birth, that initiates those 30 years, happens at eight days. Now I'm going to give you some dates as placeholders. These are, think circa, think about, around, these are not written in the Scripture, rather they are my best estimate of what the dates would be and that of scholars whom I've read. So, eight days after the birth of Jesus Christ would have been somewhere in December of 6 B.C. or possibly January of 5 B.C., and at eight days comes His circumcision and His naming. Look at Luke 2. Now we're familiar, of course, with the Christmas story that begins the first seven verses of this chapter where we're told about His birth itself. Beginning in verse 8 of chapter 2, running down through verse 20, you have the enunciation to the shepherds in the fields nearby, and so you have here the basic Christmas story.

So let's pick up then with the next event that transpires after His miraculous birth. It's found in verse 21, "And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb." This ceremony, the ceremony of circumcision, was commanded in Leviticus 12:3 to take place on the eighth day after birth, of every male. It was intended, not only was there a hygienic purpose, but beyond that there was a spiritual message and that was, mankind needs cleansing at such a basic level because he is such a sinner that even in the reproduction of other human beings, all he can reproduce is sin, one sinner after another.

It was supposed to take place on the eighth day after birth. It was usually attended by family and close friends. But as you know from the story, Mary and Joseph were not in their hometown. They had traveled from Nazareth down to Bethlehem, so they're likely away from family. And because there was no place for them to stay, it's more likely that this was celebrated privately.

But the time of the circumcision was also the time when the name of the child was formally announced, as it was with John, John the Baptist, back in chapter 1 verse 59. Both Mary and Joseph had been told by the angel Gabriel that they were to name their son Jesus, which, as we learned, means Yahweh saves, or Yahweh is salvation, Matthew 1:21, because "He will save His people from their sins." "He," Himself, the child, "will save His people from their sins.' But as we also learned last week, by naming Him, Joseph was legally adopting Mary's son as his own, giving Jesus the full legal right to the throne of David, which came through the line of Joseph. So that's the first scene that unfolds in those 30 years.

The second scene happens at 40 days after His birth. This would be around February of 5 B.C., and it is His presentation at the temple. Joseph and Mary traveled the six miles or so from Bethlehem up to Jerusalem, and what transpired there at 40 days is recorded in Luke 2 beginning in verse 22. Notice what Luke writes,

And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or too young pigeons."

Now, this passage records for us to ceremonies. The first is the purification of Mary and possibly of Joseph, their purification. Now, why would a mother who has just given birth to a child need ritual purification? Again, it was to signify that she too could only give birth to another sinner, and hence the sacrifice picturing that reality.

But the second part of this was another ceremony. It was the dedication of Jesus Himself. The dedication of firstborn males, both animals and children, was required from the time of the exodus. You remember, God spared the firstborn of the animals and the sons of Israel in Egypt when He took the life of the firstborn of those in Egypt. And He said, because of that, from this point forward every firstborn male belongs to Me, and you're to dedicate that child to Me, or that animal in the case of animals.

In the case of a son, the offering was to be a lamb and either a dove or a pigeon, so two animals, a lamb and a dove or a pigeon. However, the law provided that if the couple was poor enough and couldn't afford the more expensive lamb, they could substitute two turtledoves or two pigeons, according to Leviticus 12:8. The fact that Mary and Joseph's offering here, as it's recorded in Luke, was exactly that, shows that they as a young couple, like most couples starting out, we're not very wealthy. They couldn't afford the more expensive animal, the lamb, and so they offered two birds instead. Now, they weren't in abject poverty, either. Remember, they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They've spent now 40 days in Bethlehem. Possibly Joseph acquired some sort of work while he was there. Or possibly they were able to provide for themselves out of savings that they had accumulated.

So they're at the temple for the purification of Mary, to make the point that she's a sinner who normally would have given birth to a sinner, our Lord being the exception, and to dedicate Christ as the first born, to the Lord. Luke 2:25 and following records that while they were there at the temple, two devout Old Testament worshippers, a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna, both of whom were recognized as godly Old Testament believers, they were known, Anna even lived there on the temple grounds and served the Lord in that way. Both Simeon and Anna identified Jesus as the Messiah. This is the one, they said, who has been promised and who has now come.

That brings us to the third scene. After 40 days, this would have been sometime after February, we don't know exactly when, we're not told, but there comes a brief trip to Nazareth. Look at Luke 2:39. At the end of the visit to the temple, verse 39 says, "When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth." Now there's a question about whether this trip to Nazareth happened after the wise men came or before they came. But this verse seems to say that immediately after they presented Jesus at the temple, Mary and Joseph took the baby and returned to Nazareth. If that's right, and I think it is, then their purpose in going to Nazareth was simply to collect all of their belongings and to permanently move to Bethlehem. Because the next time we find them, they're living in a house in Bethlehem when the magi arrive.

Now, keep your finger here, we will come back, but at this point the timeline flips over to Matthew. Turn to Matthew's gospel chapter 2, because the fourth scene in those 30 years occurs sometime between 40 days when He was presented at the temple and two years. This would be somewhere between February of 5 B.C. and April of 4 B.C., and I'll explain why April in just a moment. But in that intervening time, somewhere in that time frame, you have the visit of the magi, as it's described in Matthew 2:1-12.

Again, there is much to learn there; we've studied that passage in detail. If you want to go back and listen, you can do that. But let me just punctuate again that here you have these sages from the east. We aren't told how many of them there were, there were three gifts, but there may have been more than three people. But they come, and again, they identified Jesus as the promised Messiah. Verse 12 says, "And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod," you remember, who lied to them and said he wanted to actually worship the child when he had other things in mind, "the maji left for their own country by another way."

That brings us to scene five, somewhere also between 40 days and two years, so between February of 5 B.C. and April of 4 B.C., comes the flight into Egypt. Because Matthew 2, beginning in verse 13 and following, records Herod's massacre of the infants in the Bethlehem area and its surrounds, all those who were younger than two years old. You remember why he chose that time period, it's because he discerned from the magi when they had seen the star, and so therefore he knew how old the child was, how old Jesus was. And so, I'm sure he added some cushion to that and to make sure that he caught Jesus and killed Him. And so, Jesus was somewhere short of two years of age at this point.

This is an unthinkable tragedy. I mean, imagine, even though Bethlehem was not a large city and based on the demographics, what we know of its population at the time, we can sort of do the math for how many infants two years of age and under were there. It's possible there were as many as 20 infants that were killed by Herod and his soldiers. Can you imagine? Many of you have been parents. Can you imagine suddenly the door of your home being ripped open by soldiers and they're there to take and to slaughter your child. No wonder the passage reports in verse 18 there was such weeping and mourning.

But verse 13 tells us that God had warned Joseph and Mary of what was coming. Look at verse 13, "Now when the magi had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.'" Verse 14, "So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night." That same night he awakes from the dream and they left for Egypt. In other words, they left quickly during that same night, leaving all of their belongings behind there in Bethlehem, and they traveled to Egypt.

Egypt in the first century was a highly cosmopolitan nation. In addition, what made Egypt a great place to go was it was reigned over directly by the emperor, which meant there was no Roman governor in Egypt. And so, it was an easy place to get lost, because there was no immediate supervision there. Where did they go in Egypt? Well, we don't know exactly, but a good guess would be the port city of Alexandria. It was the second largest city in the empire and it had a very large community of Jews. It's possible that's where they settled. We also don't know exactly what Joseph did to support the family during these days. It's possible he was able to practice his trade, or it's possible that God had provided for them beforehand through the gifts that the magi had brought. Perhaps he was able to sell those gifts and support his family during those days, off of the income from those gifts.

That brings us to scene six, after April 4th of 4 B.C. How can we be so specific? Because that was the day we know Herod the Great died. So some point shortly after April the fourth of 4 B.C. you have the return from Egypt and the settling in Nazareth. Look at Matthew 2, and the next passage following the massacre of the innocents and the flight to Egypt, verse 19,

But when Herod died, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, "Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child's life are dead."

Now Joseph, having heard that, apparently still intended to go back into Israel and to live in Bethlehem, where they had moved all their belongings and were living when the magi arrived, because he seems to change his plans. Verse 22, "when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea," where Bethlehem is, "in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there." So instead of going where he wanted to go, which was to Bethlehem, after being warned by God in a dream as well, he left for the regions of Galilee. He moved his young family from Bethlehem, he gathered all of their things that were there already, and moved to Nazareth in the north in Galilee. That's, of course, where both Joseph and Mary were from. So Joseph moved his family three times during Jesus' first two to three years. But then they would settle down, for the rest of Jesus' 30 years of silence, in Nazareth.

Now when you hear Nazareth, don't think some impressive place. Nazareth is called a polis, that is, a city and never a village. So, it was a city, but it was a very small city. Most of the scholars who have read the census accounts and so forth, report to us that at the time, Nazareth was probably a city of fewer people than are seated in this auditorium right now. Jesus grew up in a hometown that was no bigger than this, no bigger than the people who are here for the service this morning.

The city had a bad reputation with the sophisticated, with the cultural elite of Judea. You remember, when Nathaniel heard, in John 1:46, that Jesus was potentially the Messiah and was from Nazareth, you remember he said, "'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'" I mean, really, you think the Messiah could be from Nazareth?

Nazareth was directly west of the Sea of Galilee. If you draw a line from the Sea of Galilee toward the Mediterranean, it's about a midpoint between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee. In fact, it's 15 miles west of the Sea of Galilee, about 20 miles east of the Mediterranean. A major trade route passed just south of Nazareth, but Nazareth itself was not on any main road. In fact, it was a secluded sheltered town, think of it as a backwater town, that's really what it was, with about 500 people who lived there in the first century. That's the group among whom Jesus spent 30 years of His life.

So let's pick up the timeline again in Luke. Having seen those events, we find the seventh scene in Luke's gospel. It occurs between two years of age and 12 years of age. So somewhere around 4 B.C., shortly after the death of Herod, to 7 A.D. you have the childhood of Jesus. Luke 2:40, "The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." This is the only New Testament verse about Jesus' childhood, but it tells us much, doesn't it? Because it tells us that those years of childhood were marked by normal human development, sinless normal human development. He developed, we're told here, physically, He developed mentally, and He developed spiritually.

Perhaps you have read some of the accounts from the apocryphal gospels about Jesus' childhood. That is not what the New Testament portrays at all. The idea that Jesus, you know, wowed His friends with making clay birds and then giving them life and they're flying away, or teaching adults. No, the picture of the New Testament is much different. You see it here in this passage, He grew, He developed like a normal human being would grow and develop. Now He did so in perfection. So, that means that as He grew, Jesus was at every stage of development, perfect for that stage. So, whatever a sinless two year old looks like, and I have no idea, that's what Jesus looked like. He would have still been two years of age in His mental capacities, in His physical size, in all of those ways. He would have simply been without sin. But He would have been a perfect two year old. And so at every stage of His development.

Now, during these years, from two until 12, Jesus would have been taught faithfully by His parents. This was a role that was assigned to all faithful parents in the Old Testament. You remember, in Deuteronomy 6, as well as in the book of Proverbs, parents were assigned this responsibility. And Mary and Joseph were faithful Old Testament believers and they would have done so knowing who their Son was, with great, great industry and great diligence.

But in addition to His parents teaching, in a city the size of Nazareth, there would have been a school typically called the house of the book. Alfred Edersheim, an expert on Jewish social life in the first century, writes this, "There is a passage in the Mishnah which quaintly maps out and, as it were, labels the different periods of life according to their characteristics. It is worth reproducing, if only to serve as introduction to what we will have to say on the upbringing of children. Rabbi Yehuda, the son of Tema, says this," so listen to this, this is a description from the Mishnah of what development was like, how it's described, "'At five years of age, reading of the Bible. At 10 years, learning the Mishnah,'" the Jewish commentary on the Scripture. "'At 13 years, bound to the commandments. At 15 years, the study of the Talmud,'" further and more comprehensive study. "'At 18 years, marriage. At 20, the pursuit of trade or business. At 30 years, full vigor. At 40, maturity of reason. At 50, council. At 60, commencement of agedness. At 70, grey age. At 80, advanced old age. At 90, bowed down. At 100, as if he were dead and gone and taken from the world.'" By the way, that's not my description, okay, don't get mad with me, take it up with Rabbi Yehuda.

Edersheim goes on to say, "In the passage just quoted, the age of five is mentioned as that when a child is expected to commence reading the Bible, of course, in the original Hebrew." So, from the age of five, possibly six, Jesus would have been taught by the rulers of the local synagogue. It was a type of elementary school that was connected with every synagogue. Again, Edersheim goes on, "Every place then which numbered 25 boys of a suitable age was bound to appoint a schoolmaster. More than 25 pupils, or thereabouts, he was not allowed to teach in a class. If there were 40, he had to employ an assistant; if 50, the synagogue authorities appointed two teachers." So a student to teacher ratio of about 1 to 25. "This will enable us to understand the statement, no doubt greatly exaggerated, that at the destruction of Jerusalem there were no fewer than 480 schools in the city."

Edersheim goes on to say, "The number of hours during which the junior classes were kept in school." So here's Jesus in school, elementary school. "The number of hours during which the junior classes were kept in school was limited. As the close air of the school room might prove injurious during the heat of the day, lessons were intermitted between 10 am and 3 pm. For similar reasons, only four hours were allowed for instructions in July and August." You know, as I read that, doesn't it strike you that the more things change, the more they stay the same? I mean, our lives and the education of our children bear such a remarkable resemblance to the world of the first century, the world that Jesus grew up in.

But, of course, with a distinctive Jewish feel. From the age of about five until nine or 10, the Old Testament in Hebrew would have been His only textbook. The goal, as one scholar puts it, was that a Jewish boy knew the law better than his own name. Now, if you were going to teach a bunch of five year old boys, the Old Testament Scriptures, where would you go? Maybe you would go to some of the stories, some of those miraculous things that sort of illicit their interest. Well, guess where Jesus and the students in elementary school in the first century began. Leviticus. I'm not making that up. That's true. The first book they studied at the age of five was Leviticus. Why? They learned from it two crucial lessons. Lesson number one, sinful man can only approach holy God through sacrifice. That's the message of the first 17 chapters. And secondly, once you have come to have a relationship with God through sacrifice, He expects you to live a holy life. That's the second half of Leviticus. So, from age five this is what they were learning.

Now, during His education, Jesus learned three different languages. He already spoke Aramaic as His everyday language. When the Jews returned from the 70 year captivity in Babylon, they spoke Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Persian Empire. So that was the language He spoke every day at home. He also learned Hebrew. In Luke 4:16, He read from the scroll in the synagogue, as He did routinely by the way, and typically those were read in Hebrew. He also certainly knew Greek. In John 21 Jesus uses two different Greek words for love, you remember, in that interchange with Peter. And Peter uses two different words for no. That entire interchange doesn't work in Aramaic or Hebrew. It only works in Greek. And, of course, in the famous passage in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus said, "'you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church," Jesus uses two very similar Greek words for rock, and again, it only works in Greek. So He knew three languages. In addition to His education during these years, He would have done what all Jewish males were expected to do, and that is, assist with the chores, as well as assist his adoptive father, Joseph, with the family business.

That brings us to scene eight. This would have been around 7 A.D. It's a particular Passover in Jerusalem. Look at Luke 2:41, "Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of Passover." Clearly this means that Jesus had been to Passover many times before, but this occasion was different. Jesus is now, according to verse 42, 12 years old, and when Jewish boys became 12, they came to Passover to truly celebrate it as a full participation member of the male community in Israel. At the age of 13, of course, they would be recognized as what was called a son of the commandment as one who had come of age. Later, there was even the formal ceremony of a bar mitzvah that was added at age 13. But in Jesus' day, at the age of 12 you were preparing to truly come of age at the age of 13, and He would have celebrated, in the truest and fullest sense, His first Passover celebration at the temple at the age of 12.

Also, at the age of 12 their education became much more intense. Just as with us, we move from elementary school to middle school and high school, where the expectations don't go down, they go up. The same was true in His day as well. The education became more intense beginning at the age of 12. So it's not a surprise then, what transpires here. Verse 42 says,

when He became 12, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, [that is, both Passover and unleavened bread, all of it] the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it

Now, we are not told here whether Jesus deliberately, intentionally stayed behind or whether they accidentally left Him. But one way or another, "they supposed Him," verse 44,

to be in the caravan, and they went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they didn't find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.

So here you have a not surprising event. I mean, think about it. If Jesus is your oldest son and you've never had a day's trouble with Him and He's always been where He's supposed to be, you sort of get a little relaxed. You know Jesus is going to do what's right. You know He's going to be where He ought to be. And so, also in a caravan setting like that, some of the sources tell us that often the women and the younger children would travel together in the front, the men and the older children in the rear, and Jesus is right in between. And so, it's very possible that His mother thought He was with His father and His father thought He was with His mother. That's happened in my family. I got left at church when I was five or six and both parents thought I was with somebody else. It's probably happened in your family as well. Well, maybe not if you don't have 10 kids, but it happened often in my family.

But here you have this scene unfold. Now, verse 46 says, "after three days they found Him." You've got one day's travel out from Jerusalem, one day's travel back, there are two days, and then the better part of a third day looking for Him in Jerusalem. They find Him in the temple, verse 46. Now, this isn't a surprise. Remember, Jesus is now ratcheting up His study. He is going to become a full participant in Jewish worship and all that that brings, and "they find Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions."

Now, don't think of Jesus as some arrogant, precocious little, you know, troublemaker. He's not teaching these adults. He is listening to them teach. I mean, if you're in Nazareth, there probably weren't a large selection of great teachers in Nazareth, and here you are in Jerusalem, you've got the best of the nation's teachers at your disposal. He's asking them questions, and the style of the day was for the teacher to respond with a question and the student to answer. And so, Jesus does that. In response to His question, a question is asked of Him, He responds. Verse 47, "all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers."

Already at the age of 12, He has a profound grasp of the Old Testament Scriptures. Now, in this passage we find the first words of Jesus ever in the incarnation. Verse 49, after His mom had sort of chided Him in verse 48, verse 49, "He said to them, 'Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?'" This wasn't disrespectful. It wasn't insolent. At some point we'll study this passage in more detail. Instead, Jesus was making an intentional contrast. Notice verse 48, Mary says, "'Your father and I,'" and in verse 49 Jesus says, "'My Father,'" meaning God.

What's the point of this little episode at the temple? It's to tell us that clearly at the age of 12, Jesus had a clear sense of who He was and of His mission. We don't know when that happened. He developed as a normal child. We don't know exactly when He became fully aware in His humanity of who He was. Obviously as God He knew, as the Son of God, but He limited that knowledge often in His earthly life. So it's possible there was some point in His development He came to this awareness. Certainly He is aware of it here, of who He is and of what His mission is.

That brings us to the ninth scene, and that's from the age of 12 to the age of 30. Somewhere around 7 A.D. to about 26 A.D. when His ministry begins, three and a half years of ministry, and I believe that He was crucified and raised in 30 A.D. Again, this isn't the time to make all the arguments to you. I'm just giving you a framework for you to, sort of, hang some hooks on here. But from 12 to 30 years of age you had His adolescence and His young manhood. This is described for us in Luke 2:51, "And," after that episode at 12 at the temple, "He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them." By the way, kids, there is a great lesson. Jesus knew He was the eternal Son of God, and yet He continued to be in subjection to the authority of His parents. And it says,

and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Those two brief verses summarize Jesus' life for 18 years. Verse 52 says, the Greek text is the idea he continued to advance, He continued to make progress "in wisdom," probably a reference to intellectually, and in "stature," that is physically, He continued to grow, "in favor with men," that's socially, and "in favor with God," that's spiritually.

Although there are many things that we cannot know about these 18 years of Jesus' life, there is much that we do know. Let me just highlight it for you. Here's what we know happened from 12 to 30. We know that He diligently studied the law of God. Clearly, He was a student of the Old Testament Scriptures. He understood Psalm 119. He understood its significance. He understood Psalm 1, that the righteous man delights in the law of God, "And in His law he meditates day and night." He was the perfect pattern of that.

It's likely that He and his family had a complete or at least a partial copy of the Scriptures in their home. Josephus tells us and the book of Maccabees tells us that 200 years before, during the time of Antiochus Epiphanies, that there had been individual copies of the Scriptures in homes, and Antiochus tried to find them and destroy them. And so, it's very possible that Jesus and His family had a copy of the Scriptures.

At the very least, a complete copy of the Scripture was in the local synagogue there in Nazareth. And every Sabbath day, as the Old Testament law commanded, Jesus kept it perfectly, every Sabbath day He was there, worshiping God. He attended, and as He grew older, perhaps in His twenties, like the rich young ruler, He at times even lead the worship there in the local synagogue. Annually He traveled to the temple for the three annual feasts required by the Old Testament law in Exodus 23 and Deuteronomy 16. So He diligently studied the law of God during those 18 years

He also practiced a trade. His father, Joseph, is called a carpenter. Matthew 13:55, "'Is not this the carpenter's son?'" So it's not a surprise that Jesus also was a carpenter. Turn back to Mark 6, Mark 6:1,

Jesus came to His hometown; His disciples were with him. When the Sabbath came, [verse 2] He began to teach in the synagogue; and many listeners were astonished, [you know, here's the hometown boy] "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? [now, notice verse 3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary"

Jesus worked a trade during those years, He was a carpenter.

Now the Greek word is a broad word, like our word builder. It can mean everything from building houses to building furniture to building agricultural tools. It's interesting that Justin Martyr, who lived shortly after the death of John the Apostle, writes this, "When Jesus was among men, He made plows and yolks and other farm implements." Regardless of exactly what kind of carpentry He did, He worked hard at a trade during those years.

Back on Labor Day we studied work in the book of Proverbs and I quoted for you from J. Oswald Sanders, I'll do it again because I love this quote, he says, speaking of our Lord, "He saw no incongruity in the Lord of glory, standing in a saw pit, laboriously cutting the thick logs into planks or using a plane and hammer. In days when white collar workers tend to despise those who work with their hands, contemplation of the life of Jesus during those silent years would wither such contemptuous pride. He was a carpenter, a working man who earned His living, as others of His contemporaries, by manual skill. His was no 40 hour week, but a 12 hour day, doubtless with overtime as well. If it was not beneath the Son of God to work as an artisan, then surely it is beneath none of His children. He has imparted to a life of toil, both dignity and nobility."

So He worked at a trade. Also, during those 18 years, He belonged to a large family. Notice verse 3 again, Mark 6:3, "'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?'" Jesus had four brothers, younger brothers, all of whom are named here. And it goes on to say, "'Are not His sisters here with us?'" Plural. That means He had at least two sisters. So Jesus grew up in a family as the oldest of at least seven children. And if He had more than two sisters, it was more than that, maybe it was a family of 10, like mine, who knows.

Now, when you look at verse 3 here, there are several important implications that we can draw out of it. First of all, Joseph had obviously died. He was still living, as we saw, when Jesus was 12 in the incident at the temple in Jerusalem. But there's no mention of Joseph after that. And here, during Jesus' ministry, he's not mentioned at all. His mother is, His brothers, His sisters, but no mention of Joseph. Joseph had died. Secondly, that means Jesus had taken over the family business. That's why He's called the carpenter. That means Jesus worked, as they did in those days, six days a week to support the family. And He had a large family to support, six younger siblings, along with Himself and His mother Mary.

It also means that Jesus was the spiritual leader and teacher of the family. If Joseph died after Jesus' visit to the temple when He was 12, at some point, whenever that happened, Jesus would have become the one responsible to teach His younger siblings as the oldest Jewish male in the home, to teach them the Scripture, a responsibility outlined in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have sat around the home and heard Jesus teach you as the, sort of, surrogate dad? No family ever had a better teacher, a more consistent example, a more perfect model of God the Father, than those kids had.

But think about it. Whenever His six siblings first became aware that Jesus claimed to be more than the human son of Mary and Joseph, they all refused to believe in Him. In fact, they thought He was crazy. Turn back to Mark 3:21, when Jesus was ministering in Capernaum, and not even taking time to eat a meal, verse 20; verse 21, "When His own people," when His own family, "heard about all of this, they went out to take custody of Him;" literally, to seize Jesus by force, "for they were saying, 'He has lost His senses.'" He's out of His mind. He's crazy.

Their attitude toward Jesus becomes crystal clear about six months before His crucifixion. In John 7:5 we're told that, "not even His brothers were believing on Him." Have you ever thought about that? How sad. How sad for Jesus to have His own siblings reject His claims. I think that may be why, at the cross, Jesus gave John the Apostle the responsibility of caring for His mother. We know that Jesus willingly limited the exercise of His attributes, including even what He knew while He was here on the earth. It's very possible He didn't know, as He's dying on the cross, that His siblings would come to believe in Him. He may very well have died thinking that those He had loved and cared for and taught would always reject Him.

I can't think of that but without thinking of some of you. If you've had a child walk out on the faith, turn his or her back on all that you've tried to teach them, listen, Jesus experientially understands what that's like.

So there it is, that's what we know about those 30 years. But I promised you this, what are the lessons for us? There are two profound lessons that we learn from those 30 years. Let me just give them to you briefly, two profound lessons. Number one, Jesus' 30 ordinary years are a pattern and encouragement for our ordinary lives. You see, if Jesus lived today, if you knew Him during those 30 years, His life would look a whole lot like yours and your family's. He grew up. He went to school, spent a lot of time in school studying. He was involved with His family. He worked. He worked hard. He worshipped on the weekends. And several times a year there were religious celebrations to remember something important that God had done. That's my life. That's your life. It was a completely ordinary life.

I love what Dean Frederic Farrar, in his famous book on The Life of Christ, says. Listen to this, he says, "In these years, He began to do long before He began to teach. They were the years of sinless childhood, a sinless boyhood, a sinless youth, a sinless manhood, spent in that humility, toil, obscurity, submission, contentment, and prayer to make them an eternal example to all our race." Now listen to what he writes, "We cannot imitate Him in the occupations of His ministry, nor can we even remotely reproduce in our own experience, the external circumstances of His life during those crowning ministry years. But the vast majority of us are placed by God's own appointment amid those quiet duties of a commonplace and uneventful routine, which are most closely analogous to the 30 years. It was during those years that His life is, for us, the main example of how we ought to live."

You see, folks, if we're honest with ourselves, our lives are often predictable and are profoundly ordinary. We are students. We work at jobs. We spend evenings and weekends with our families. We take care of what God has given us. We worship on the weekends. We eat and sleep. And then we repeat the cycle for decades. And it's easy to buy into the world's standard that that is a waste. To say that, or to think that, is to denigrate much of the life of our Lord, who didn't think it was a waste at all.

You see, be encouraged, most of His earthly life was profoundly ordinary, 30 years of ordinary. Don't be afraid of ordinary. You can glorify God in such a life. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Paul writes, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your own hands, just as we commanded you." In 2 Thessalonians 3:12, "we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ that you work in a quiet fashion and eat your own bread." Nothing wrong with an ordinary life. For those 30 years, Jesus set just such an example for us.

But Jesus was doing something much more profound than serving as a pattern. Secondly, Jesus' 30 ordinary years are the source of the righteousness by which we are declared right with God. Let me say that again. Jesus' 30 ordinary years are the source of the righteousness by which we are declared right with God. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5. If you've been around our church any time at all, you know this is one of my favorite passages. Second Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, listen, if you're in Christ, "if anyone is in Christ," if you know Christ, then you have been radically changed, "you are a new creature," a new creation. This is talking about regeneration, God making you new, "the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." How does that happen? It happens through believing a message. Verse 18,

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and He's given to all of us, [the apostles and us who know Him] the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word [or the message] about reconciliation with God. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, [we represent Christ, now watch verse 20] as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

You see, Paul says, God is pleading with you to respond to this message of reconciliation, Christ is pleading with you, through us, to respond to this message of reconciliation. "Be reconciled to God," verse 20 says. How? The answer comes through the word of reconciliation in verse 21, "He," that is, God, "made Him," that is, Christ, "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

You see, what this passage is describing is the most important word a Christian can ever learn. It's the word imputation. It means to credit something to someone's account. This passage is describing double imputation. You see, God doesn't leave our sins, for those who believe in Christ, God doesn't leave our sins in our account, even though we've committed them. Notice what He says in verse 19, "not counting their trespasses against them." I committed my sins, but God doesn't leave those sins in my account. Instead, He credits my sin to Christ's account. That's the first half of verse 21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf."

On the cross God credited every single sin I had ever committed, to Jesus Christ. And for those dark hours, God treated Jesus exactly how I deserve to be treated forever. He paid the entire debt for every sin that I had ever committed. And you, too, if you're a believer or you're willing to believe. So God credits our sins to Christ. There's the first act of imputation.

But that's not all of it. God credits Christ's righteousness to us. Look at the second half of verse 21, "so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." You see, God credits righteousness to us. Salvation is this incredible exchange. Christ suffers the punishment for my sins, and I get the reward for His obedience. I get His righteousness. In fact, Paul says it this way in Romans 4:6, "God credits righteousness without works."

Whose righteousness? How can God say I'm righteous when I'm not? Whose righteousness gets credited to me? It's the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It's His perfect life. You see, for those 30 years, Jesus was living the life I should have lived. Why didn't Jesus just come down on, you know, Good Friday, die, and then get raised on Sunday and go back to heaven? Why not just those few days? Why 33 years? It's because He needed to live the life I should have lived, both so He could stand in my place and die the death I deserved, but also so that that 33 and a half years of perfection, of perfect righteousness, could be credited to my account.

So on the cross, God treated Jesus as if He lived your sinful life, so that forever He could treat you as if you had lived Jesus' perfect life. That's the gospel. His perfect life of obedience to God is credited to the account of everyone who ever believes in Him. So I hope, I hope and pray, that you will never forget, and you will never denigrate, those 30 years of ordinary. Because the lessons that come out of those 30 years, and what He accomplished in those 30 years, is not ordinary at all. It is extraordinary. Let's pray together.

Father, how can we ever thank You for such grace. That You would credit our sins, even though we committed them, to Christ and treat Him as if He had committed them, and then credit His 33 and a half years of perfection, perfect righteousness, to us, and treat us as if we had lived that life. Lord, what amazing grace. May those of us who are in Christ meditate on these things, grow in our understanding of them. and live in light of it, with a confidence, assurance, and peace that it brings. And Father, for those who are here who are not in Christ, whether they've never heard the gospel or heard it many times before, Lord help them today to truly hear it and to run to You for this wonderful exchange. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.