|Behold the work of God?|
Ordinarily when we think of the Jesus doing the work His Father showed Him to do (John 5:19), we think of Christ raising someone from the dead, feeding 5,000, or healing blind beggars by the side of the road.
But have you ever stopped to consider Jesus spent the majority of His days doing carpentry work, or the work of a stonemason? (Some scholars think Jesus may have done both. Perhaps He was a general contractor.)
The question is: When Jesus did carpentry, was He doing the work of God?
Since Christ was God, He couldn't help but do the work of God, no matter what He did. But by Jesus' own testimony, He only did what His Father showed Him to do. When exactly did this arrangement start? Did it begin after He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days? Was it also the case during the 17-20 years of carpentry work He did in Nazareth?
We don’t know much about the life of Christ during His carpentry years. But we do know this: Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52), and He spent about six fold more time doing carpentry work than preacher-teacher work.
It is significant to note that when Jesus was 30 years old, at His baptism, the Father audibly proclaimed: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).” That was before Jesus healed a single person, fed 5,000, or preached to multitudes.
The Father does not elaborate on what exactly was so pleasing to Him. Certainly Christ’s character pleased Him. But I suspect the Father was also pleased with how Jesus spent His time and energy up to that point in His earthly life, doing what His Father showed Him to do: a whole lot of carpentry.
Justin Martyr, the 2nd century historian, claimed that plows made by Jesus were still in existence around the year 120 A.D. when Martyr lived. If so, Jesus must have done superior work! But whether it was building houses or making plows, certainly Jesus understood He was doing His Father's work. This casts “the work of God” in a much different light than we ordinarily think of "the work of God."
What exactly is the work of God? Whatever the Father shows us to do.