Jesus was around thirty when he was baptized and then spent forty days in the wilderness, where he faced and overcame trials and temptation. Jesus was then free to begin his mission to reveal God’s values to humankind, and specifically morality and ethics for the first-century marketplace.
- How to thrive and be ethical at the same time.
- How to treat others.
- How to recognize that the source of all good comes from God.
- How to have a personal relationship with God.
In essence, Jesus’s moral emphasis was on “self-worth, not net worth,” and it was a message he preached in the Judean and Galilean markets. These were the places where daily life happened. People worked and struggled to earn a living. They bartered, sold their goods, created artifacts from shoes to ceramics, made money or lost it. They were prey to con men and cheats, and as in markets today, they were often exploited by men cleverer and more unscrupulous than they. They battled throughout their lives to rise above the temptation to get back at the offenders and avoid falling into the traps of greed and fear. When they had turned in the past to their religious leaders for help, they had been provided with legalistic answers—no help at all.
Jesus came among them to reveal a different way, a way embraced by God. He came to show them the moral path that kept them connected to God. Jesus came to show them that serving God and being successful could both be part of a connected life. To show them that temptation and the lure of money and power were the distractions to this path.
What is not widely discussed is that prior to his baptism and experience in the wilderness, Jesus had spent most of his life as a marketplace worker, a carpenter, a craftsman, a skilled artisan. We know from the earliest version of the Gospels that his profession was tekton, an honorific term for “artisan,” usually associated with a carpenter, builder, or woodworker. He would have attained this level by initially learning his craft from his father, as was the custom in the first century, and then becoming more involved with other tradespeople. Over time, he would have progressed as a woodworker to the level of tekton, now able to help support his family and pay his bills.
Into this commercial world Jesus went to teach people to do good. To do good—not to gain something of material value, but to be something of value.
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