God came into our realm as an infant in a family, but this wasn't just a convenient or dramatic entrance.  Jesus, the God-man, remained active in family life for the length of His days on earth. We seldom reflect upon the first thirty years of Jesus' life, before he started His public ministry, because the Scripture says so little about those first three decades. Does this mean we should be unconcerned with those years because they have nothing to offer? I think the very fact that Scripture doesn't record much of His early life is significant because it reveals there wasn't much that seemed worth recording. For the first thirty years of Christ's life, He simply lived a normal, mundane human life -- learning and working at a trade, caring for His mother, making and enjoying friends, growing and living in a community.

Scripture says He studied at synagogue, showing wisdom and understanding far beyond His years. But tradition tells us He would have learned the carpentry trade from His father and most likely helped Joseph run the family business. We assume He played games with other children. It doesn't take much imagination to picture Him doing chores around the house and woodshop. Surely, He took pleasure in completing a nice table and delivering it to a customer's house. He felt frustrated when the customer was late in paying, when His tools broke, or when a supplier tried to gouge Him for materials. He swept up endless piles of sawdust. He sweated and got splinters in His fingers. He fetched water for His mother and went with her to market. He helped friends move into new homes. He fished. He came to the aid of neighbors whom others took advantage of. He spent time alone with His Father. He got tired and enjoyed meals with friends and probably didn't care for having to clean up afterward, but often did with a gracious heart. God did all these things.

Of course, we don't know specifically what He did, because Scripture doesn't tell us. But for the first thirty years of His life, God, in Christ, was content to do the daily family-life things everyone does.

I often wonder why it took Christ so long to start His ministry? If this was the really important part of His life -- teaching and saving humanity -- why did He take so long to get to it? Remember, in those days, there was no adolescence as we know. Tradition tells us Mary was in her early teens when she was pregnant with Jesus. So, at thirty, Jesus was nearly two decades into adulthood. Why did He wait to get on with His work? It seems as if Christ was content just to linger in everyday life, day after day, for thirty years. That says something very profound to the Christian about normal family life.

Again, please don't move over this fact quickly. Stop and ponder this truth for a good while. The consequences are profound! In Christ, God was content to linger in family life. His identification with and participation in it sanctifies the whole endeavor, making it holy and spiritual -- for whatever God does is holy and spiritual. Think about that tonight as you peel potatoes or carrots, do dishes, sweep floors, or fix the hinge on a broken door. God did those things too and didn't see them as a waste of time.

Jesus was a family man. Family relationships and duties were a part of His life until His last day. Among his final words from the cross was a request to His friend John to care for Mary after His death. God's participation in all the cares and duties of family life means that Christianity does something no other religion or philosophy does: bridge the divide between this world and the other world, bringing together the physical and the spiritual into a unity. This is why the idea and reality of the Incarnation is so powerful.


Excerpted from My Crazy Imperfect Christian Family by Glenn T. Stanton copyright 2004. Used by permission of NavPress - www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.