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Career guidance (1)

Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. (1) And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. (2) Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they pass out on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 15: 29-38

Yesterday GCSE results were published. How very important these are. The planned career path can go forward – or it has to be re-examined. What should be the over-arching guiding principles for a student to consider when choosing what to do during the lifetime ahead? Is it to follow their own aptitudes and abilities – the gifts – already evident in them? Or is it to follow a career path that will pay well? Or something else?

We know from Matthew’s biography of Jesus that his public working life started in Galilee. His whole career took place within about 50 miles of the Lake of Galilee. Matthew reports that, on one occasion (see bold above), Jesus went up the mountain near Lake Galilee. What happened on that mountain in many ways summarises Jesus career – his working life. “Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. Then they glorified the God of Israel.”

‘Jesus Christ is God’s everything for man’s total need.’ (Richard Halverson, American pastor and writer, 1916-1995)

Jesus’ career was devoted to the good of others. Does what one might do for others feature in today’s careers guidance? Will you be of real help to others if you choose this job? Will you devote your life to others?

This took place when Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee and went up the mountain. Which mountain that actually was is no longer known with certainty. But there is one particular mountain which towers over the west side of the Sea of Galilee. It’s called Arbel.

Arbel is a manageable climb in one direction but its sheer face on the other side can be easily picked out from most points around the lake. From the top of the mountain virtually all of Lake Galilee can be seen. If Arbel is the mountain where Jesus met with these great crowds and healed them all then Jesus’ career had an even deeper significance.

In fact, pre-Jesus, Arbel had a violent history of killing.  Apparently the Assyrians around 700 BC had mercilessly murdered many Israelites by forcing them over the sheer cliff. The historian, Josephus, records that in 161 BC the Seleucid general, Bacchides, captured Mount Arbel and executed many people there.  Then in 39 BC, as Herod the Great rose to power, he too killed many of the Jews who opposed him by slaughtering them on this same Mount Arbel. As they hid in caves on the sheer north side, Herod let his men down in baskets and fished them from the caves, forcing them off the cliff to their destruction below.
‘We marvel, not that Christ performed miracles, but rather that he performed so few. He who could have stormed the citadels of men with mighty battalions of angels let men spit on him and crucify him.’ (Oswald Chambers, Scottish evangelist and teacher, 1874-1917)

All the ill in this great crowd were healed by Jesus on the very mountain where great numbers had repeatedly been slaughtered over the centuries.

A career, a life’s work, devoted to others – to the restoration of other needy people? What a contrast to those who make a career using violence?

Why then is it that folk today want nothing to do with Jesus? Is it because his career plan is light in the darkness?

And why use his name as a swear word?

Richard Syvret

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