“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”- Mark 1:15
Recently, I watched a youtube instructional video on playing the classical guitar. The very first instructions were to just hold the guitar without playing its strings. This was quite hard because my first instinct is to start strumming on the strings. Just as I was trying to resist the temptation to do this, the instructor said that the problem with many students is that they want to play immediately when they grab the guitar. He seemed to be looking at me when he said this. According to him, this impatience leads to bad habits and poor playing. He emphasized that it was essential for us to know and understand the instrument before rushing into playing it. We were instructed to feel the strings and then to think about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it mentally. Once we get all the steps figured out mentally, only then are we ready to begin. It doesn’t mean that we are going to play beautifully right away. It just means we are ready to begin.
Jesus waited for thirty years before he preached his first sermon on the Kingdom of God. Throughout his ministry, Jesus emphasized in subtle as well as explicit ways the importance of waiting. He did not just wait passively. He submitted Himself to the process of waiting. When he was baptized against the protest of John the Baptist, Jesus said that it was the appropriate way for the time being. John was right; Jesus should be baptizing him instead. However, the waiting process demanded otherwise. Waiting can mean doing things that apparently make no sense to those around us. Jesus spent a bulk of his life as a carpenter. It is strange that there is no explicit reference to his experiences as a carpenter in his teaching. In fact, it seems like they were uneventful years. Why didn’t he start his ministry earlier and die on the Cross at a later age?
Jesus’ ministry did not end at the Cross. The Cross was the beginning of a new phase of His eternal ministry. It marked His transition from prophet and teacher to High Priest and King. As High Priest, He represents not only God to us but also He represents Humanity to God. His qualification to do this comes from the years He spent experiencing all the ups and downs of a regular human being. I guess being a carpenter is as normal as you can get during his time. Regular human life is full of challenges and struggles and everyone has their share of suffering. Jesus is not a High Priest of exceptionally complex cases. He is the High Priest of regular human beings in regular human situations.
He is a High Priest that truly understands human predicament and yet He was able to transcend it. He gives the mundane things in life a new meaning. They are not wasted experiences because they can point us to something that is eternal. Jesus saw that spending thirty years as a carpenter was important. It gave Him the tools to preach the Kingdom of God effectively to the world because He was able to see eternity in the mundane things. If we are unable to see the eternal present in the mundane things, then we won’t be able to preach the Kingdom of God effectively.
‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’-Matthew 25:23
We spend hours in our ministry apparently doing mundane things. Our children and teens are so detached from regular human society that doing these things with them brings them back into human society. However, it doesn’t just end there. These times spent with the children prepare the way for us to preach the Kingdom of God. Most important, they prepare us to discern the Eternal Presence of God in the mundane.
Our time of waiting is a time of training our eyes to see the eternal presence in the mundane.
It is easy to miss the importance of doing these mundane things in preparation to preach the gospel. One of the frustrating things for us is perhaps walking for miles searching for these children and teens. It is even worse on the days when we don’t find them. It is easy to feel as if we have wasted our time. However, occasionally some complete stranger comes to us and tells us that he has seen us walking around looking for the children and he wants to know what motivates us to do such things. The only answer we can give is that the Kingdom of God is here and we are here to testify of its goodness.