Is not this the carpenter?

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.  (Mark 6:3)

The people who asked these questions were not astonished that Jesus was a carpenter, but that He had such depth of spiritual wisdom and could do miracles. When He spoke, it was with personal authority and knowledge, as though He had some special connection to God Himself. Yet He was not formally educated. He was a carpenter. He was no prophet. He was a carpenter.

As a believer, I am not astonished that He is the Almighty Son of God, but that He was a carpenter.

Whenever I attempt woodworking projects, I often think: “I wonder if Jesus had this much trouble getting wood to do what He wanted it to do.” I also wonder if He isn’t laughing at my efforts. But you know, Jesus probably did struggle as a young apprentice carpenter. While He is certainly all God, when He took on human form, He became all man as well (Philippians 2:7-8), and as a man He had to learn things. Hebrews 5:8 says He had to learn obedience. He had no sin nature to hinder Him, but still He had to learn obedience. As a human, Jesus accomplished everything a yielded human being could do by the grace of God. He accomplished everything that He expects us to accomplish using the same grace you and I all have in God.

That means He had to learn carpentry by the grace of God too.

As a yielded servant of God, when He learned carpentry, He learned more than just woodworking. His trade was full of life lessons as well. So, what could Jesus have learned from His trade?

Even the most common thing can become something beautiful when shaped by the hands of a master.

As a carpenter, Jesus dealt with lumber every day, and a piece of wood is just a piece of wood until a skilled craftsman can turn it into something that piece of wood never imagined. You might think yourself to be pretty ordinary, one of millions, nothing special. Balaam’s donkey was pretty ordinary, too, until God got hold of it. When Jesus ministered to the masses, whom did He seek out? The ordinary people: publicans and sinners, the woman at the well. The standouts, people like Nicodemus and the ruler of the synagogue had to seek Him out.

Most things in God’s creation are most useful when they are broken.

An oak tree is a thing of beauty, but it’s just a tree in the forest until a master woodworker can turn it into a plough, or a desk, or part of a sailing vessel. A horse is just a wild animal until it can be broken to take a saddle. Jesus had to humble Himself to become our Savior, and when He dwelt among us, He sought out the broken so that He could make them whole.

Sometimes, the tougher the medium, the better the product.

Soft woods are easy to work with. They are pliable and easy to shape. They are not necessarily the most durable. Hard woods take much more effort, but once shaped, they are a constant testament to the master’s skill and talent, and they last. Consider the apostle Paul. He was one of the fiercest and zealous persecutors of the early church. Surely no one saw him ever being converted. Yet God converted him and used him as the mightiest servant of the church that ever lived. God doesn’t write people off. Maybe you’re praying for someone who seems unreachable. No one is unreachable to God.

You might look at yourself and think you’re just an ordinary piece of wood. Because of the choices you’ve made in your past, you see yourself as gnarled, weathered, tough and useless. Some of the most beautiful works of art can come from the most unlikely hunks of wood. You just need to let the Lord do His work in your life. After all, is not this the Carpenter?

[Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash]

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