Before I retired, often on a cool morning I built a fire of twigs before I left for work to have a few moments, “Just God and me”. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the ordinary things in Jesus’ life. How many times did he sit around a fire in the evening with the apostles? What did they talk about? It was not all religion, I bet: “Did you see the size of that viper under the bush this afternoon?”
Those desert nights get cold. They might have built more than one fire so that when they bedded down, there would be enough for all of them to be near one. Even when they were near a town, there would be difficulty finding enough rooms for all. Jesus, twelve apostles, up to half a dozen women who ministered to him (probably not all there all the time, but maybe there were others occasionally who were not listed as they were not there often); from the 120 in Acts 1, they selected two that had been with him all the way, and once he sent out seventy in pairs of two, so they had to have journeyed with him some of the time. It was a small army -- never less than thirteen; often more than a hundred. Firewood would be a problem, as would food. Jesus might wake up in the morning to the sound of the women getting the fires re-started and breakfast on. (NO BACON!! No sausage gravy. What would be the point of even having breakfast? )
If Jesus came to me, at my morning fire, what would he say? I have imagined several conversations centered around my perception of my problems and needs. I do wonder, though, if I have faced myself well enough to even be in the ballpark.
Then, I was working in the garden one day and wondered, “Did Jesus garden?” Surely, he must have. Most homes had what our parents called “kitchen gardens.” The wife cared for those, and the young children helped. Think about Jesus pulling weeds, planting seeds, watering. “Mom, I finished, can I go play now?”
He was a carpenter taught by his father. Joseph demonstrated, corrected, helped. Or do you think he formed furniture and houses by fiat?
That first century generation had great difficult seeing that this everyday man was in fact, God. For many generations, we have over-taught deity so that we have difficulty seeing him as a real man.
The reality of this overemphasis is that many dismiss his example and do not try very hard to measure up—after all, he was deity, I cannot do that. The truth is that no one, especially they of Nazareth who knew him best, saw him as being any different than any other child, teen, adult. Obviously, after he was 30, he did miracles, but in no other way was distinguished from any other man in anyone’s eyes.
So, when we read Peter and others urging us to follow his example, to be what he was, to let him live in us, it is possible. He was tempted like we are, He “in like manner” partook of flesh and blood that he might deliver us. We can live like he did because he lived “in like manner” as we do (Heb 2:12). Take hold of the power of that example.