…when he began his ministry.
Yeshua of Nazareth was thirty years old when he left his hometown and began to wander the regions of Galilee teaching the kingdom of heaven–the age I’ll be in half a year or so.
For some reason, that thought really blessed me this Easter. It feels as though I’m coming to pivotal years of my life: years that will be important in the larger scheme of things, years that will cement me in a more definite way into my own ministry.
Not that any years are more important than others in actuality. King Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign in Judah and sixteen when he began to seek the long-neglected God of his ancestor David. Four years later, when he was twenty, he undertook the enormous task of destroying the altars of Baal, the Asherah poles, and the carved images that had infiltrated his country’s worship, and re-implementing the worship of the Lord.
And on the other end of the spectrum is Moses.
Grandma Moses, I mean. She was 78 when she began her art career and is famously quoted as saying, “Life is what you make it, always has been, always will be.” Also, “If I hadn’t started painting, I would have raised chickens.”
No, seriously–I actually did intend to talk about Moses from Exodus and got distracted by his namesake. Moses from Exodus was eighty years old when he went to investigate a bush that would not burn and was kick-started into a forty-year governing position over God’s chosen people.
Age really isn’t important when it comes to serving the Lord–but still, being Jesus’ age feels sacred or something.
At least it has the benefit of making me stop to think about where he was at when he was my age, what he focused on, what he thought important.
He seemed in no hurry to start his ministry–or maybe I should say his ministry away from home, since Jesus being Jesus, I’m sure he ministered no matter what.
Thirty isn’t exactly old but it’s no spring chicken, either. For years, Jesus was content to hang around in the looked-down-on town of Nazareth, until he was ready and God was ready for him to move on.
And his ministry didn’t last long. He was only thirty-three years old when he died.
He was the supposedly illegitimate son of a poor carpenter, a man who hung out mostly with others from the poor working class, as well as with the outcasts of society. He did this not to look good or to post a picture on Instagram afterward, but because these were the people he identified with. Within them, more than within the respected or wealthy or educated of his day, he envisioned the growth of the kingdom of God.
Not that the respected, wealthy, and educated weren’t also welcome and also useful–but in the upside-down values of Jesus’ kingdom, the least became the greatest and the humble and unassuming were promised the future.
And that gives me pause. There is no doubt that my own assessment of what is valuable and who is to be esteemed is different than God’s. There is no doubt that this crossfire of values–between Jesus’ teaching and my own status-seeking instinct–has caused much stress and conflict in my life.
So here’s to you, my thirtieth year. May you and your brothers be years in which I learn to value what Christ values, to live simply and remain undivided in heart and spirit.
As He did.