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December 14, 2019

Work-World Stories Describe the Kingdom

Word In Life Bible Study • Work As Ministry
Little wonder, then, that Jesus' teaching was filled with workplace images and analogies such as those recorded here.

Jesus probably spent most of His life working in His family's carpentry business. We know almost nothing of His youth from adolescence until He began His public ministry at about age 30. But we know that His father was a carpenter (Matt. 13:55) and that Jesus also practiced the trade (Mark 6:3). Carpenters worked with wood, metal, and stone to produce furniture and farm implements, and constucted houses and public buildings.

Jesus may have continued His occupation even after He began to teach and travel. Rabbis (or teachers) of the day commonly spent anywhere from one-third to one-half of their time working (most likely with their hands) to provide for themselves. And while Jesus' opponents, many of them rabbis, attacked Him on numerous grounds, they never accused Him of laziness or freeloading. Indeed, He was known to them as a carpenter.

That reputation passed on to the early church. One writer described Jesus as "working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes, by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life."

 Using parables-brief tales illustrating moral principles-He frequently spoke about the nature of His kingdom. Matthew 13 collects eight of these as listed below (with possible interpretations):

(1) The parable of the soils (13:1-23) addresses the receptivity of those who hear about the kingdom.

(2) The parable of the wheat and the weeds (13:24-30) warns that people who pretend to be part of the kingdom may be able to fool others, but they can't fool God.

(3) The parable of the mustard seed (13:31-32) is a promise that the kingdom would become a force to be reckoned with. Do not despise small beginnings!

(4) The parable of the leaven (13:33) describes the influence of the kingdom: it quietly but effectively spreads among people and accomplishes significant results.

(5) The parable of the hidden treasure (13:44) puts a value on the kingdom: it's the most important thing one can possess.

(6) the parable of the pearl of great price (13:45-46) also describes the kingdom's value: it's worth sacrificing everything in order to possess it.

(7) The parable of the dragnet (13:47-50) warns that a day of reckoning is coming, when those who accept the kingdom will be separated from those who reject it.

(8) The parable of the householder (13:51-52) places a responsibility on those who understand about the kingdom to share their insight with others.

Jesus' stories connected with the real world of agriculture (sowing, harvesting, growing), the food industry (baking, fishing), real estate (land purchasing, home ownership), and retailing (the sale of pearls). His images and language helped bring His message alive to common people. It showed clearly that God takes an interest in the workplace and desires people to serve Him in the "secular" arena.

Study notes from the Word In Life Study Bible, copyright 1993,1996, by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The study notes from the Word In Life Study Bible appearing at this web site are for personal use only.
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