During Jesus three-year ministry, what did He do? What was His life like while on earth?
God Becomes a Man
Some false religions teach that man can become God but the reality is that God became a Man and that Man was in Jesus Christ Who was both God and Man. He lived in all splendor, glory, and majesty while in heaven but condescended to be born in a lowly stable in the most humble of beginnings. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and was murdered even though He was completely innocent. He willingly gave His life so that we might have eternal life if we repent and trust in Him. But what was Jesus’ life on earth like during His earthly ministry?
Life in the First Century
Life was most difficult when Jesus walked the earth. There was no running water, no indoor toilets, no refrigeration, no air conditioning, and only a select few that were rich enough could afford heat in the winter. Life was miserable in that day for the common man and Jesus’ life was very much like what the common man lived in that day. He worked as a carpenter early in his life, a trade that his father Joseph worked. The work of a carpenter in that day was exceedingly difficult because carpenters in that day had to work with huge timbers and large stones because most of the homes in Judea were built from and consisted of both of these materials. This was very hard labor and again, there was no retreat in the evening to an air conditioned home and no showers or bathrooms where someone could refresh themselves after a long, hard day. The only relief for Jesus was at far away rivers and streams so these were anything but the “good ole days.” He was born in a stable or barn, essentially lived at the poverty level and never knew of any luxury or riches that the wealthy enjoyed.
Dusty Roads, Brutal Heat and Extreme Cold
Everywhere Jesus went He had to walk and there were only unpaved, dusty, dirty roads and He certainly traveled many miles in preaching the gospel. Some roads may have been improved and been covered in stones by the Romans and were better than the dusty trails that weaved throughout Judea but not so much where Jesus traveled. In Judea it got cold at night, even during the summers and in the winters there was extreme cold so Jesus had to endure all kinds of various elements throughout the year. Since there are few good sources of water, there must have been times of great thirst for Him and since Jesus had little money with Him, there were likely times of hunger. Imagine the cold, heat, wind, rain, dirt, dust, hunger, and fatigue that Jesus must have faced throughout His life. What made it worse, Jesus told someone who wanted to follow Him that He had no place to even lay His head at night (Matt 8:20). He also didn’t have much seclusion or privacy because frequently great crowds followed Him and He often had to go to the mountains to find some rest and some times of privacy. Jesus was a Man of prayer too and He loved to go off into a private area to pray and this would require Him to trek up into the mountains so there were no easy days for Jesus at all.
What we have today would be unheard of in Jesus day. He had to eat dried fruits, nuts, dried breads, and fish for the most part. There were no restaurants, no buffets, and the only time He had a chance to have a variety of food was when He was an invited guest at someone’s house or at a wedding feast. The diet must have been very bland and nothing like we are used to today.
Jesus spent most of His time walking. In His life He walked from Nazareth to the River Jordan to be baptized (Matt 3:13), He traveled to the Judean Desert for the temptation in the Wilderness (Matt 4:1), He traveled across the Jordan to near Bethsaida in Galilee to call the first five of the twelve disciples (John 1:28, 35), then turned north toward Galilee to attend a wedding at Cana (John 1:43, 2:14), He continued on from Galilee to Capernaum (John 2:12), then south to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13), then He left for the countryside of Judea (John 4:3), passed through Samaria (John 4:4), traveling again to Galilee (John 4:43) and once He reaches Galilee (John 4:45) He then goes back to Cana and Capernaum (John 4:46), and finally returns to His hometown of Nazareth where He preaches in the synagogues (Luke 4:16). In just a few short months He has already walked hundreds of miles and so being a former carpenter and walking hundreds of miles, He must have been a strong, rugged, athletic type of a man…a man’s man to be sure. In His lifetime, trying to calculate the number of miles He walked is difficult to do…we can be sure that He at least walked thousands of miles and this in only a short three-year period. It may have been more because John says that Jesus did “many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:31) and “there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). The point is that He was a manly man with an enormously healthy, masculine, virile body. He is nothing like the effeminate pictures you see of Him. His life was a hard, tedious, one where He faced rejection and was constantly harassed by the religious leaders of His day.
Jesus Preaches the Gospel
Jesus life then can be summed up as one where He faced hardship, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, exhaustion, and worst of all…He was scorned, rejected, ridiculed, and finally crucified. Everywhere Jesus went He preached the gospel. He went about healing all kinds of sickness, disease, and infirmities including blindness, leprosy, lameness, deafness, and even those possessed by demons. He faced the Devil Himself and defeated him while He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He willingly gave His life so that we might have eternal life by the removal of our sins. He volunteered to give His life for those of us who would later be His enemies, even while sinners. When He was crucified, He lifted the penalty of our sins that had earned us wages of death (Rom 6:23) and since He was raised, we too can be raised again after our death and being buried with Him (symbolized by baptism) we will be raised by Him (Col 2:12).
If you have not had the forgiveness of your sins imputed to Him (2 Cor 5:21) then you cannot have the peace of God that those who have repented and trusted in Him can have (Rom 5:1). In that case, you still have the wrath of God abiding on you (John 3:36b) and will face, not your Savior, but your Judge (Rev 20:11-15). Jesus endured so much for you so that you might have eternal life for God’s wrath was placed upon Him so it wouldn’t have to be placed on you. Decide today to choose life (John 3:16-17) or death (John 3:18) and don’t fool yourself, to not choose is to choose to reject Him.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon