March 14, 2019

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

The following was originally posted at my Deliberate Agrarian blog back in 2009

My sheep HEAR My voice, and I KNOW them, and they FOLLOW Me.
(John 10:27)

In my previous blog, Delmar Ain’t So Stupid, I wrote about the “dominion mandate” given by God in Genesis, and I explained that this was clearly an agrarian mandate to work the land, and care for it responsibly. All of creation shows God’s glory. We glorify Him when we choose to live within the paradigm of the mandate and work the land as co-creators with God. I am persuaded that this is the proper undergirding paradigm for living the Christian life.

For the record, I should make it clear that I do not believe for a second that agrarianism is the primary focus of Christianity. There is much, much more to the Christian life than choosing to live and work within the agrarian framework. But for Christians to ignore this aspect is a serious mistake.

Agrarianism is antithetical to the dominant “worldly” industrial system. Christians are called by God to come out of this system. Yet most modern Christians love the world and are dependent on the industrial providers and want nothing to do with the simplicity and humility and hardship that comes with living their lives and raising their families within the paradigm of the dominion mandate, as it is properly understood.

In response to my previous blog essay a person asked this question:

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

I must say that I have never considered this question before. It got me to thinking. And I have concluded the following...

I would not consider Jesus Christ to have been an agrarian. Likewise, I would not consider Him to be a Christian. Other names for Jesus come to my mind and are appropriate:

My Lord and my God
King of kings
Son of God
Lamb of God
Alpha & Omega
Prince of peace
Chief cornerstone
Horn of Salvation
Light of the world
The one mediator between God and man
Lion of the tribe of Judah

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11)

There are other names for Jesus in the Bible. But, no, I would not call him an “agrarian.”

Having said that, I would like to also point out that I would not call God the Father an agrarian either, even though it was He who planted the first garden:

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden
(Genesis 2:8)

When Jesus was born, the Bible says that Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Most moderns don’t really know what a manger is. I didn’t know until I worked on a farm as a teenager. A manger is an animal feed box, typically found in a barn. He was born in an agrarian setting.

Jesus did not grow up in a city. He grew up within an agrarian culture, working with his hands, and with his father, learning to build with wood. It is probable that this family had animals and grew some of their own food. He was familiar with the cycles of sowing and reaping, with vineyards, and with sheep and shepherds and fishermen. As far as we know, Jesus lived and worked quietly within this paradigm for something like thirty years before he left to begin his ministry. This agrarian culture was a type of incubator that helped prepare Christ for the redeeming work he came to do. Later, when Jesus began his ministry, he taught his disciples using many agrarian parables, simple in the telling, but of deep spiritual significance.

People of that day did not use the word “agrarian” but for Christians living today within an industrialized culture, trying to understand how Christianity should be properly lived, agrarianism is an appropriate word. It is the opposite of apostate Industrialism.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, summed it up nicely:

”Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

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