Attempting to re-finish our coffee table, I started to think of the Lord Jesus working with wood in ancient Israel. I have heard that he would have been a stone mason as well, which reminds me of my Dad, a master bricklayer who was also an excellent carpenter. What necessary skills, and what low value is placed on the workmen who have them. Not by me! After all, what would exist in our world without these men?
Getting back to the Lord, to think of his hands sawing, somehow smoothing the wood without sandpaper, fitting bits together without screws or power tools, working without protective gloves or goggles and working in the intense heat of an Israeli summer.
Did his little brothers and sisters bother him? Did they bring him drinks of water? Did they pester him to play with them? How he must have loved them! Matthew 13:55, 56
And all the time, until he was 30 he had to keep at his work – the Creator of the heavens and the earth sweating under the sun he had made on Day 4 and working with lumber that came from trees he had made on Day 3.
He would have been very strong. Bricklayers and carpenters may start out as skinny young men, but the work is so hard that their muscles develop just in the course of their work. Modern workmen do not need to go to the gym! And when they shake your hand, you know it.
Then the day came when the Lord had laid down His tools for the last time and went to the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth (now an Arab town). His strong, capable hands opened the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and he read:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ (Isaiah 61:1)
Their reaction, after he criticized Israel, was to grab hold of him, march him out of town, and try to throw him off a cliff! (Luke chapter 4)
And what a miracle – he simply walked ‘through the midst of them and went his way.’ I would love to know how this was accomplished! Did God paralyze the angry mob? Did an angel come and blind them all as had happened at Sodom? Did Jesus’ disciples come to his rescue?
One day we will know it all; the gaps will all be filled in and we will have even more reasons to praise the Lord. What a wonderful time we will have in heaven!
And so after the men of Nazareth rejected him, the Lord who made all things had to move house and set up his base in Capernaum. Mark chapter 1 picks up the story there, for he performed many miracles there, casting out demons, healing the sick.
So eat your heart out, Nazareth – you could have been the scene of all these wonders! Not that Capernaum was any better; in fact, it was so bad that the Lord eventually had to pronounce a curse on it and it no longer exists.
No more working with wood and stone; the Lord was now doing the work Isaiah had prophesied. To think that one day the Lord Jesus reached out his strong hand and touched a leper! (Mark 1:41)
This astonishing healing should have been enough for the leaders in Jerusalem to come and kneel at his feet and proclaim him the Messiah (the prophesied Anointed One, the Christ). For healing a Jewish leper was one of the three messianic miracles by which the Jewish rabbis expected to be able to identify the Messiah.
They taught that no one but the Messiah would be able to heal a Jewish leper, heal a mute person (cast out a dumb demon), and heal someone blind from birth. All of which the carpenter of Nazareth certainly did.*
The leper didn’t help. Jesus told him to keep quiet about it and go and show himself to the priests so that they could investigate the healing and begin to see that he had the credentials of the Messiah.
But no, that leper had to go and blab it everywhere, so much so that thousands of people began pouring in from all over, making it impossible for the Lord to go about his business in the town.
Then, out in our back garden, sanding away at our coffee table, I thought of Jesus’ hands, writing in the dust, putting the hypocritical religious rascals to shame, so much so that none of them could cast the first stone at an adulteress. John 8:7
And I thought of his hands breaking the five little loaves and feeding five thousand, the only miracle repeated in all four gospels. Matthew 14
... his hands blessing the children after the disciples tried to keep them away. Luke 18
... his hands giving us the supper, the bread and wine to remember his death until he comes back Luke 22:19
And his hands being nailed to a wooden plank. His wonderful hands, so full of love and blessing and mercy to pour out for sinners like me. John 20:25, 27
Dear friends, if you have never really thought of Jesus as real, why not just ask him?
Just say: Jesus, are you real? Are you really there? If you are real, let me know you! I want to know the truth.
If you really want to know, he will see to it that you find out. Seek and you WILL find.
*This teaching about the three messianic miracles is from one of the best Bible teachers in the world, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, of Ariel Ministries.