Jesus’ Work and Our Work

Reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional. 

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about Jesus’ work as a carpenter and builder, which is not often remarked upon even though it took up 60% of his life. It is not remarked on because there is not much written about it in the Gospel accounts.

However, what IS written about, is all the other work Jesus does; and here we may find lots of parallels with the work that we do.

Teaching/Speaking

This is probably obvious! Jesus spoke to big groups and little groups and sometimes one-on-one. He taught people about God and about life. He passed on wisdom for daily living. For example, in Luke 6:27-36, Jesus addresses situations of conflict. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). Luke leaves no doubt that this is a teaching for the economic world, for he specifically relates it to lending money. “Lend [to your enemies], expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35).

Are there teaching or speaking aspects of your work? Do you get to impart wisdom for daily living?

Healing

In Jesus’ day, as now, the work of healing and health was essential. Jesus heals people in thirteen episodes in the Gospel of Luke. By doing so, he brings wellness to suffering people, as he announced he would do when he stood up in the synagogue in Luke 4. In addition, the healings reveal the coming kingdom of God, in which there will be no sickness (Revelation 21:4). God’s power is not restricted to Jesus himself, for in two passages, Jesus empowers his followers to heal people (Luke 9:1-6, 10:9). Yet all the healings depend on God’s power. They are a tangible sign that God is putting the world back to right.

Is there an aspect of healing in your work?

Empowering People

As well as empowering people to heal, Jesus lifts up those he encounters.
He touches the untouchable.
He teaches women.
He commends the despised tax collectors.
He welcomes children.
Anyone who comes into Jesus’ presence leaves challenged, tested and empowered to draw close to God and live well.

Is there an element of empowering in your work?

Building Community

Jesus built a community that grew. He started with some disciples, but gradually others were added. Eventually he is able to send 72 out to do work in surrounding villages

Do you get to build a community through your work or in your workplace?

Challenging Injustice, Evil

God’s persistent concern for the poor and powerless is inherent in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-26), and indeed throughout Luke’s Gospel.

It is clearest in his mission statement in Luke 4:18–19, quoting Isaiah 61:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

Jesus then goes on to proclaim good news, proclaim freedom to John the Baptist in jail, heal the blind, and set those who are oppressed free: the disabled, the possessed, the sick, the women, the Samaritans, the poor, even those who are trapped by their wealth.

Does your work include elements of challenging injustice or evil?

Promoting Good/Shalom

As an extension of these ideas, Jesus promotes a picture of what the kingdom is like. It is generous, hospitable, fun, where rules are made to benefit not hinder. Men and women and children are all equally valued. Those on the fringes are welcomed in. He brings together humble shepherds and those able to give wealthy gifts. It is open for Jews, but also to gentiles. It is a place free of conflict and suffering and pain.

How do you promote good in or through your work?

Prayer

Thank you, Jesus, for all these examples of your good work.
Help others to see you in us when we work like you:
In our teaching, speaking or sharing of wisdom.
In our efforts to bring some healing to others.
When we empower or encourage others.
As we seek to build community through our work or in our workplaces.
As we challenge injustice or evil, or support the vulnerable.
As we seek to promote good and bring restoration/shalom.
Amen

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Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, and Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work. She is also a lecturer with Mary Andrews College. Kara has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organisations, and as a consultant. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, and helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is currently conducting research on how to effectively equip workplace Christians to integrate their faith and work.

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