Tri-vocational Jesus: Carpenter, Rabbi and Gardener

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In Jesus’ day, a son grew up learning the trade of his father. Joseph was a carpenter and you can be sure that Jesus learned those skills as he grew up and possibly even into adulthood. Jesus started his public ministry around the age of 30. In those days Rabbis usually had a second vocation because Rabbis didn’t make a full time living doing what Rabbis do. If you recall, Paul was a tentmaker even during his time as a minister of the Gospel.

Jesus had a third vocation and this one is a bit more subtle and is only mentioned one but is a profound point that John makes in his gospel. Before I go any further, I want to point to something N.T. Wright said at the Pepperdine lectures that connected a few of these dots for me. Some of the dots I had connected before but one thing Wright said made everything come together from the disjointed pieces of past study.

He said that Jesus said “It is finished” on a Friday (John 19:3). He rested in the tomb on Saturday. Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week. Jesus death, burial and resurrection paralleled the creation account but continued that story into a new day…a new week…a new creation.

I went back to John 19-20 and things started to click like they hadn’t clicked before. I had already noticed the Eden and Adam connection…that we learn in John 19 that the tomb was a garden tomb and that in John 20 Mary mistakes Jesus for a gardener (the same vocation Adam had in Eden). What I hadn’t noticed was that Mary went to the tomb of the first day of the week while it was still dark. This is a perfect parallel with Genesis 1 where on the first day darkness was over the face of the deep.

We could go on to 2 Corinthians 5 and Galatians and 1 Corinthians 15, Philippians 2:6, and Romans 4 and make more and more connections between the creation story, Eden, Adam and Jesus but that is too much to get into at this point in time. All I want to say is that Jesus carried on the vocation of Adam in a new creation way. A new day has dawned. New creation is breaking in. The curse of the serpent is growing toward complete fulfillment. Sin and death have been defeated. We, as Christians, live in this new creation as new creation beings!

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