May 1, 2023 Labor Day
2 Corinthians 6:2: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
in many countries, Labor Day is celebrated on May 1. It has been a public holiday since 1890 in Germany. This holiday was born in the USA. There, many thousands of workers went on strike in 1886. They demanded an eight-hour working day. And Labor Day was born.
People at work are a popular stamp motif. Today, in addition to the German stamp, I would like to show you two Romanian stamps. One shows two artists at work. One man is catching a partner on the trapeze. What keeps the spectators in suspense is the highest professionalism. What these artists show demands the highest concentration of their work. One mistake can have dramatic consequences.
The other stamp shows two hands with large tools. Physical hard labor is symbolically depicted here. The large tools (in Germany they are called open-end wrenches) indicate work on machines. Such hands also perform responsible work.
When Jesus lived, people mainly worked in agriculture, fishing, as carpenters or in trade. A day of rest existed for the Jews only on the Sabbath or on religious holidays. Many people who met Jesus were working people. Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen. The centurion of Capernaum was a professional soldier. Jesus healed his paralyzed servant. The disciple Matthew was a tax collector, just like the powerful and rich Zacchaeus. The apostle Paul was not only a missionary. He also earned his living as a tentmaker. In Philippi he met Lydia, a purple merchant. She asked herself to be baptized by Paul. This is reported by Luke, a physician, in the Acts of the Apostles.
All these working people experienced the transformation of their lives through Jesus Christ. They were called to a new life with God. Their lives were no longer determined by earning money and accumulating material wealth. The Holy Spirit opened their eyes to God's new reality. God provided peace to their souls, which money could never buy. They came to know God's love and were filled with a joy that their work could never have given them. They entrusted their lives to the Son of God, who says of Himself (John's Gospel chapter 10):
‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me; and I lay down my life for the sheep. I will give them external life.´
Jesus, the Son of God, compares himself to a worker, to a shepherd. This was not a romantic job at that time, but it was hard work. A flock of sheep had to be defended against thieves and wolves. By using this comparison, Jesus makes it clear, that he is completely committed to those people who trust him. He even went so far as to sacrifice himself to protect the lives of his loved ones. He sacrificed his life on the cross of Calvary to free us from the slavery of sin.
Jesus was very close to the people at that time. He knew their daily life; he knew how they lived. The risen Jesus Christ is very close to all people. He understands us and knows our daily work. He also sees those who suffer from their unemployment. Jesus, in his omnipotence, knows every situation of life. Trusting him and seeking an encounter with him opens new perspectives on life. Peter, Matthew and Lydia are best witnesses to this.
I wish that Labor Day for you, may not just be a day off, but will become a very personal day of salvation. Paul, the missionary, and tentmaker (Acts 18:3), wrote it this way in 2 Corinthians 6:2: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Those who trust the Lord Jesus Christ experience every day as a day of grace and salvation, at work, when unemployed, or during non-working time.