What Jesus Learned at His Trade
Is not this the carpenter? — Mar_6:3
We Learn from Our Trades
Every man learns certain lessons from the trade in which he is engaged. Nobody is unaffected by his business. The farmer is very different from the sailor, because the one is a farmer and the other is a sailor. Each has his own outlook upon things; each dwells in his own universe. As you can often tell a man’s profession by certain indications in his body, so also by indications in his soul. Now we are faced with the great fact that our blessed Savior was a carpenter. Through His youth, and on to the age of thirty, Jesus was the Carpenter of Nazareth. And we may be certain, from all we know of life, that these years of carpentering would leave their mark on the public ministry of after days. They would suggest much; they would give Him certain insights; they would impress certain truths upon His mind. It was not alone in the house and in the field that He was gathering material for His teaching. He was learning things, just as we all learn them, in the quiet discharge of daily duty, which were to help Him when everything was changed. Never forget that Jesus was a poet, just as His life was God’s most perfect poem. Every common task at which He wrought would flash out into diamonds of significance. The village shop was not only full of logs; for Him it was also full of parables, as was His mother’s kitchen, and the garden, and the fields.
As a Carpenter the Lord Learned from a Log. How Much There Can Be Hidden
One truth I reverently think that He would learn was how much may lie hidden in a thing. Picture the waggoner delivering a tree that had been ordered by the Carpenter of Nazareth. The Carpenter would begin to work it up; He would lop off the branches and the twigs; He would saw it into planks and blocks; He would use it for the orders He was executing. And by and by, round His little workshop, would be ranged the various things that He had made—a plough, a chair, a wooden bowl or platter. What! a plough hidden in that tree— that rough, gnarled creature of the forest? And platters and bowls (to feed the children with) hidden in that swaying tree? Then the Poet-Carpenter would halt a moment, and dream, and say quietly to Himself, “Ah, how much may lie hidden in a thing.” Did He forget that when carpentering days were over? Was not that one glorious secret of His hopefulness? He saw the Kingdom in a mustard seed. He saw the citizen of heaven in a child. He saw, as no one else has ever seen, how much lay hidden in the human heart, and in the lives and characters of common men.
It Takes Pains and Time to Transform a Thing
Another truth I believe that He would learn is what pains it takes just to transform a thing. That would be deeply graven on His heart. Picture a farmer coming to the shop and asking the Carpenter to make a plough. An Eastern plough was a very simple thing. The farmer would sit there till it was made. “Friend,” the Carpenter would say to him, “my ploughs are not manufactured while you wait. It is a long and weary business making ploughs! See that tree? I have got to transform that tree. I have got to change that tree into your plough. Who can tell what faults and flaws are in it? Leave Me alone. I have to wrestle with it.” With such material, so rude and so intractable, one thing the Carpenter would learn was this: that pains and patience go to all transforming. Was that forgotten when carpentering days were over? Think of the first disciples. Not in one hour did Simon become Peter. John was not made an apostle “while you wait.” There is nothing more wonderful in history than the long, patient, and persistent way in which the Lord transformed these followers of Galilee. In a single instant He could heal the leper. In a single instant He could raise the dead. It took many a thousand weary instants to transform Simon into Peter. And what more beautiful training for that ministry than to be sent of God until the age of thirty to toil as the lowly Carpenter of Nazareth. Perhaps one day, when things were very difficult, and the disciples were like wayward children, Jesus espied a plough that He had made, and remembered all the pains that it had cost Him. And then He would thank His Father that He had been a carpenter, for if it took all these pains to make a plough, how infinitely more to make a Peter. We are all in the hands of One who was a carpenter. That is a fact we never should forget. He is a thorough workman. He never spares Himself. He is eager for perfection in His workmanship. And some day, when His work on us is over, and we are perfected in His own perfect way, we shall say, “Is not this the Carpenter?”
The Finest Things Are Made of Hardest Wood
Then, lastly, might He not learn in carpentering that the finest things are made of hardest wood? It was cedar-wood that was demanded for the paneling of palace or of temple. Did He smile, I wonder, when He noticed that? Did he recognize the deeper meaning of it? And was He recalling the old days in Nazareth when He deliberately selected Paul? Hard as cedar, injurious, a persecutor, the bitter and savage foe of every Christian—but finest things may be made from hardest wood. Do you know anyone who is what is called a hard case—anyone who has resisted every pleading—some member of your flock, or some wild lad you try to teach on Sundays? Have faith. Someday he will be won. The cedar will adorn the temple yet. And then you will say, quietly and adoringly, “Is not this the Carpenter?”