Is That Our Carpenter?

Have you noticed that Jesus tends to refuse to fit into nice neat theological categories? Even those categories we use that aren’t technically “theological”, he tends to refuse to fit well. For instance, “Jesus is our Friend.” We can sing the hymn from way back, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, and think, “Wow, that is so great, to have Jesus as our friend.” Yet, we also think in terms of “friends like us.” We can’t help it. It’s our culture, our society, our personality to think of Jesus as our friend in the same way we’re friends with Bob or Cheryl, or whoever. And we would be wrong, often way wrong.

The people of Nazareth thought of Jesus as their carpenter. He was the guy in the village who fixed the wood stuff, which was a lot, tables, tools, tent frames, plows, yokes, wheels, carts, you name it, if it was wood, he made it or fixed it. His work was never done, and when he left, well… But he was back! They had heard word of him travelling around and teaching, performing miracles, and all this weird stuff. But I need a table fixed for my shop, and Ted over there needs his cart fixed so he can bring in his stuff from the family farm, and Sue has a loom that needs a better fix than her yarn wrapped around one side of the frame. When’s Jesus coming home?

Jesus went out from there and *came into His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.
(Mark 6:1-3 NASB)

I’m not going to get my table fixed, am I? What carpentry work were you hoping he would do for you? What did you need fixed? I mean, that’s what He does, right? He fixes things. He makes stuff for us, so we can go on about our lives, isn’t that right? I mean, what’s wrong with this picture? It’s the way stuff is supposed to work, who he is supposed to be, how he is supposed to fit into our society, culture, community…

I blow through this passage so fast, stopping just long enough to shake my head sadly at the people of Nazareth, and move on. But, if I stop, if I look around at what’s going on, listen to what they say, think through their perspective, I see something a lot more painful. I see myself among them. I want my table fixed, so to speak. Can you see yourself among them? Do you also struggle wanting Jesus to be that part of your world that makes it a bit better, easier, more comfortable? There’s a price for being a part of the people of Nazareth, though.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”  And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.
(Mark 6:4-6 NASB)

Do you see it? It includes the lack of miracles, sure, and they missed His teaching. But look at the last sentence, and let it prick your heart. It drives a nail through mine. He was going somewhere else. Sure, those other people saw Him as “the miracle man”, the guy who heals people and drives out demons. He was the guy who fed a ton of people without catering. It was cool! But they also heard teaching, and he gained a lot of followers who stuck with Him, following Him as Savior, Messiah, the Son of God. He left Nazareth without a carpenter.

So, now we have a choice. We can look around at each other wondering who will fix the table. Or we can follow Him, listen to Him, be healed of our separation from our Creator, walk with our Savior, and enjoy the closeness we lost in the Garden of Eden. Doesn’t that sound better? Keep in mind, even Jesus’ family didn’t get it, those closest to Him, who should have known, couldn’t see past their own preconceived notions of Him, who He was, what they needed Him to be. You may be close to Him, but are you close to who He is, or close to what you have made Him out to be? Are you following Jesus, or seeking what He can “fix” in your life, so you can carry on with your life? Jesus probably has another plan, different from yours. Just a thought.

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