Wednesday, February 01, 2017

They Took Offense at Him (Is He Not the Carpenter?)

Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.  Hebrews 12:13-15

And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:3c-6

Father God, I see here in your Word that you call fill with your Spirit, craftsmen, giving them wisdom, understanding, knowledge, in all manner of workmanship. I ask Father, that you grant our people the ability to solve problems and to devise cunning works, flowing through them in your excellence, creativity, and granting them beautiful designs to the complex problems we face trying to build in this world. Help us to understand your principals in building, in all manner of workmanship, and to glorify your name in the workplace, building not only for this life, but for eternity, through you, and the strength, power, and authority of your name Lord Jesus, Amen. (By Chris Walsh is a missionary, the President of AOM Ministries.)

Emotional turmoil continues to swirl around Jesus.  After his excursion to the land of the Gentiles, Jesus returns home to Nazareth and goes to teach in the synagogue.  However, people there know him and they know that he has not been studying the Torah as other Pharisees and scribes.  He is just a…a…a…carpenter!  How dare he take a position of honor in the temple and teach them? What can he possibly know other than roofing and flooring and furniture making?

However, in his day, if you were to literally build the Kingdom of God, would you not choose a carpenter to put his skills to work? Just think of a day in the life of a carpenter. Carpentry is a rewarding craft for those who can combine precise detail work with strenuous manual labor. Carpenters build two kinds of projects:  first are those things used in the construction of buildings and second are those used internally such as furniture, art, or framing.  If our Father’s house has many rooms, do we not need a skillful builder to lay the cornerstone and frame the doors and windows?

Jesus also had the ability to turn the blueprint for the Kingdom into reality.  Like a good carpenter, he also had the uncanny knack for picking good wood.  Such wood would make a nice manger.  Such wood would make a sturdy cross that could bear upon it all the sins of the world.

If a carpenter does a good job, something he builds will last for years. I remember working on a room addition to our family home with my father and brother back in the 1960’s. Once the foundation went up, each year, my father would improve upon the addition until it went from being a screened-in patio to a finished room with windows. If I go back today to the old neighborhood and drive past our old house, that addition is still attached to the house. “I helped build that.” You can even see it attached to the back of the house in google maps.

Imagine Jesus coming back today two thousand years later to see the Church he started (all wings of it…catholic, protestant, eastern, etc.). “I built that with wood that I carried on my back.”  Carpenters have to pay their dues and serve out apprenticeships with experienced carpenters.  Perhaps the flames of passions that engulf those around Jesus are the evidence of the dues Jesus paid while walking on earth.  Right up until he made the final payment when the last nail was pounded into the cross.

The humility of the carpenter brings us face-to-face with the power struggle Jesus faced, a power struggle between love and hate that continues to this very day. 

In the Rule of St. Benedict, Joan Chittister suggests that Benedict argues “that the third rung on the ladder of humility is the ability to submit ourselves to the wisdom of another. We are not the last word, the final answer, the clearest insight into anything. We have one word among many to contribute to the mosaic of life, one answer of many answers, one insight out of multiple perspectives. Humility lies in learning to listen to the words, directions, and insights of the one who is a voice of Christ for me now.”[i]

Jesus shows us his commitment to humility when challenged by all those around him.  How can we accept such humility into our toolbox and use it for the good of building the Kingdom?

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