Jesus' Extraordinary Ordinary Work

August 7th, 2015

In his book Work Matters, Tom Nelson reminds us that Jesus was well established in his career as a carpenter before he became an itinerant teacher.

Jesus’s work life tells us that he did not think being a carpenter was somehow below him or a poor use of his many gifts. Here is the very One whose hands not only created the world but also the very wood he was crafting in a carpentry shop. The apostle Paul gives us a glorious description of this carpenter from Nazareth:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:15–17).

Think about it for a moment. The very One who was the master craftsman of the universe spent a great deal of time during his 33 years on earth crafting things with his hands. The One who had masterfully fashioned humans from the dust of the earth was making chairs for people to sit on in their houses. No doubt Jesus had strong, well-worn, callused hands.

It is all too easy for us to overlook the fact that Jesus knew what it meant to get up and go to work every day. Jesus experienced both the exhilaration and exhaustion of putting in a hard day’s work. Jesus faced work and a workplace profoundly affected by sin. I am sure Jesus dealt with difficult and demanding people in the workplace who complained about this and that.

I am also confident that the sinless Son of Man not only modeled humility in the workplace, but also maintained a teachable spirit as he served under the tutelage of Joseph, his human guardian father.

Working with his hands day in and day out in a carpentry shop was not below Jesus. Jesus did not see his carpentry work as mundane or meaningless, for it was the work his Father had called him to do.

I have a good hunch that Jesus was a top-notch carpenter and did top-notch work. Even before Jesus entered his itinerant rabbinical ministry, Matthew reminds his readers of the Father’s good pleasure in his Son. Following Jesus’s baptism, the Spirit of God descended as a dove, and a voice out of heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). I am sure there were many things that made the Father well pleased, but one important aspect of Jesus’s well-pleasing life that we must not overlook was his well-pleasing work as a carpenter.


Adapted from Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission.