Thursday, 28 March 2019

Called to be normal

There’s a big gap in the story of Jesus’ life - a gap that stretches for eighteen years. At the age of twelve, he decided to stay in Jerusalem after Passover in order to learn at the feet of Israel’s most famous rabbis. His plan didn’t last long. Mary and Joseph tracked him down and insisted that he return with them to Nazareth. Next we hear, Jesus was thirty years old as he began his public work as a rabbi. What had he been doing for eighteen years?
A few months into his teaching ministry, Jesus returned to Nazareth, where - as far as we can tell - he had spent those eighteen years. Nazareth was a tiny village, the sort of place where everyone knows everyone. His old neighbours were astounded to see what, for them, was a totally new aspect of Jesus. They said, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
It seems that for the first eighteen years of his adult life, Jesus’ primary calling was to be ordinary. It seems that for those eighteen years, the neighbours who saw him every day didn’t notice anything exceptional about him.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reflected on this: “He had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.”
If normal life was a calling for Jesus, then it can be a calling for us too. We easily undervalue our daily existence, but human life is - in fact - remarkable. Even the every day routines of cooking and washing up are remarkable. There is no other known creature in the universe that does anything like it.
God honoured and sanctified the day to day routines of our lives when he chose to live them out for eighteen years in an obscure hillside village on the edge of the Roman Empire. So, next time you stand at the sink or the washing line, doing what has to be done, pause to reflect that God’s call reaches us even there. Do it well!

Recently published:
the life and loves of a disciple of Jesus 
by Robert Harrison

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