ďThe Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."Ē(Gen. 2:15)
When Jesus left Nazareth to begin his public ministry, He moved to Capernaum, a fishing village located on the north edge of the Sea of Galilee, ten miles around the lake from Tiberias. A city of almost 10,000 residents, Capernaum was His home during the last three years of His life on this earth. He performed more miracles in Capernaum than in any other place.
The people of Capernaum, however, refused to respond to His ministry. Therefore, He cursed the city along with two nearby towns-Chorazin and Bethsaida. Unlike Tiberias, which has continued to flourish until this day, all three of these cities were eventually destroyed and no longer exist.
Most of His disciples were fishermen from the villages around the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They fished at night, just as the fishermen of today do. Sometimes He would go out with them, spending the night in one of their boats, helping them row and pull in their nets. He was a doer not a person who delegated.
The nets were heavy, bulky, made of hemp rope that rotted when wet. They were quite unlike the lightweight nylon nets used today. Much of their time was spent mending the nets, which often broke when loaded with fish. During the day, while some of the men were hanging out the nets to dry and repair, the other men would unload the fish and take them to the market. Jesus would help his friends pull the nets from the boat, unload the fish, and take them to market.
If you want to be completely honest, we have all being presented with a completely distorted image of Jesus. The Artistís impressions of Him in a book I have, called ďThe Bible and its PaintersĒ by the ďgreat artistsĒ through the centuries; depict Jesus as an ultra serious, effeminate, sunken-eyed, hollow-cheeked, emaciated weakling. Maybe itís because the artists looked like that. I donít know, but I donít believe it is a true reflection of our Savior.
Several years ago, when the water in the Sea of Galilee was unusually low, archaeologists discovered an ancient fishing boat buried in the mud. Preserved across the years, it is the same kind of boat used by Peter, James, and John when they fished those waters almost 2000 years ago. The boat, which is officially called ďThe BoatĒ, may be seen at the kibbutz of Nof Ginossar.
Jesus and His disciples were not sissyís. They were tough weather-beaten callous-handed labourers, who knew what it was like to put in a hard dayís, or nights, work. You donít take a twenty-foot boat made of heavy timbers, which weighs several thousand pounds out on to the lake for a pleasure cruise. When the wind was blowing, they might hoist a sail. Most of the time they rowed. Can you imagine four men rowing a boat like that across a lake the size of the Sea of Galilee? However, Jesus and His disciples often did just that. They were strong men, rugged men, and outdoorsmen! Remember, before He started His ministry, he worked as a carpenter. In those days carpenters were house builders so more than likely he had a strong muscular physique.
Jesus did not see work as a curse, something to be avoided. He saw it as a way of life. He saw it as an opportunity to provide for himself and for others. Hard work to Jesus was honourable. Only lazy persons didnít work. He would have approved of what Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica when he said: ďIf you donít work, you donít eat.Ē
After a night of fishing, these rugged fishermen would pull their heavy boats up on shore, unload their fish and then spent much of the day caulking seams and replacing rotted planks. It was a never-ending job.
Although Jesus was God, he was also a man. All man, and when He was crucified, His strong young body was nailed to a cross where, He died like a man- in horrible agonizing pain. Even so He died, as He lived, for all mankind. To appreciate Jesus you have to understand his Jewish ness and never forget He was a manís- man. Understanding that fact will give you a profound appreciation of His Lordship over our lives.
Jesus knows what itís like to sweat, to be tired, to work, and to be discouraged. He understands our problems. Jesus cares and helps us shoulder the load. Never forget, Jesus is the ultimate Mr. Been! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. He went before us to make a way for us. Donít let yourself be discouraged. Has He not promised to be with you until then end of the age? Be of good cheer for He has overcome the world, just for you.