We all have certain expectations in life. Expectations in relationships. Expectations in careers.. Expectations of our elected officials. . Expectations in our churches. We even have certain expectations of a vacation destination, a restaurant, or a new iphone!
When Christ came to earth, he did not live up to the expectations of the Jewish people. He was born in mundane surroundings. A lowly manger. Amid the mixture of manure, blood, sweat and tears, the Messiah entered the world.
In Who is this Man?, John Ortberg put it this way: “He entered the world with no dignity….His cradle was a feeding trough. His nursery mates had four legs, he was wrapped in rags….targeted for death and raised on the run.”
He grew up in a nondescript little hamlet on a hillside of Southern Galilee. A tiny village of about 3,000 inhabitants. One wondered if “any good thing could come out of Nazareth?” At least, Nathaniel did! (John 1:46). Evidently others did as well.
Many thought the Galileans lacked culture and their dialect was crude. And it may well have been that the people of Nazareth had a bad reputation among their neighbors. It was there Jesus toiled in obscurity. For 18 years. Jesus worked. And served the Father in the carpenter’s shop.
Then came the day when he began his ministry. He requested to be baptized by John “to fulfill all righteousness.” As he rose from the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father’s voice echoed from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
God was pleased with Jesus. Not just in his baptism, but his life. His obedience to Joseph and Mary. His growth mentally, physically, socially and spiritually (Lk. 2:52). His work as a carpenter. Jesus wasn’t wasting time. He was living righteously. Serving faithfully. Working diligently. Learning what it was like to be a human being.
When he began teaching, John says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (Jn 1:11). When Jesus returned to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, here was the reaction.
“Many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (MK. 6:2-3)
Wasn’t Jesus just a carpenter? A man who rose early to work with his hands. A man who made tables and chairs. Simple furniture. And ox-yokes. He had no social standing. Or prestige. Or honor. At least, not in the eyes of the religious elite.
Besides that, “the carpenter” didn’t attend their theological schools! “The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” (Jn 7:15). How could this uneducated, common laborer know anything? Or teach them? Or lead them?
So, Jesus was written off and rejected. Despised. Betrayed. Denied. Tried unlawfully. And killed. Ironically, “the carpenter” was nailed to a cross. But that was Friday. On Sunday “the carpenter” would conqueror death and come out of the tomb! Alive! Triumph! Victorious!
“The Carpenter” came to build something spiritual. Indestructible. And eternal. He told Peter and the apostles, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18).
Fifty days later it happened. “The Carpenter’s” message was preached. His plan for salvation enunciated. And His church began. (Acts 2).
The religious leaders were wrong! The critics were incorrect! The majority was mistaken! “The Carpenter” was the Christ!
Never forget that your dignity is not based on what you do, but who you are. And if you’re “in Christ,” you possess spiritual worth and divine value.
Jesus, “the Carpenter,” pleased God, and fulfilled His purpose. And He did so that the lowliest among us might also please the Father and find our purpose in Him.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman