Is Not This The Carpenter?

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. They Did Not Know Who He Was

Is not this the carpenter? Is not this the one who works as an artisan with his hands to craft tables, chairs, and beautiful furniture? Is not that Mary’s oldest baby? Is not that the one we used to play in the yard with, you know the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Is that not just that guy Jesus? He is no one special.  He is no different than us.  He is just the son of Mary and Joseph.  He isn’t anything special.  He too is a product of Nazareth, the place where no good can come from.  Is not he a guy who is just like him, a guy who society would look down on, a guy who people would assume came from the wrong side of the tracks, a guy who many people would assume was poor, a guy who many would assume was unintelligent, a guy who many would take one look at and assume the worst of.  Jesus was just like them; he was nothing special. Is not, this Jesus, the carpenter? Is he not, just a carpenter?  These people had no idea how wrong they might be.  They did not value him for who he was they never really knew fully who he was.

            Jesus has come into his hometown, the area of Nazareth, likely in the area of Capernaum.  He has returned with some of his disciples, and on the sabbath, the holy day, the day of rest, he is in the synagogue, the temple, teaching and professing the word of the Lord. Jesus was speaking with authority, speaking with knowledge and such conviction. This was Jesus, that guy who had grown up in Nazareth,  and he was speaking with great wisdom, things that they had not heard before, things that brought such liberation, things that showed something was different about him, things that transformed their lives, and things that seemed to be too grandiose and too good to be true.  Jesus was sharing not a new gospel, but a more full understanding of a long standing religion.  He seemed to have a more full understanding of what it meant to be fully connected to God, because he talked as if he knew God, he talked as if he intimately had a connection with God, he talked as if he knew God so well that he spoke on behalf of God.  He was speaking a message that we have seen throughout his ministry: to love one another, to serve one another, to feed the hungry, to help those in need, a message that empowered the outcast, a message that chastised the wicked, a message that uplifted the rejected, a message that found fault with the oppressor, a message that valued the poor when the rest of the world rejected them, a message that forgave those who had done wrong, not judging them for doing a bad thing, but loving them as a child of God.  Jesus proclaimed a message that was wrapped up and soaking in God’s love, a message that transformed an ancient near east generation of a Roman occupied territory of Israel/Palestine and transcended on, even into the present age. Jesus was speaking a message that was bringing life and liberation, especially to those that the world had rejected, to a people that lived in an area where no good can come from.  It was almost as if Jesus was speaking a message that was catering to them.  It was almost as if he had spoken to God, he had saw them intimately, and gave a word that God knew they needed to hear, because it intimately responded to their moans and groans, it saw their soul even when the world had rejected their bodies, it saw their current condition and responded in a way that only the one and only God could do because only God knew them that well and intimately.  Jesus was speaking with a knowledge that could have only come from God. And while the teaching may have astonished them, speaking to their need, granting them life and liberation, they had to admit that person it was coming, that person who seemed so familiar to them, the person whom the message came from, to them, made no sense.   How could one of their own, know God so well? How could one of their own speak with authority? How could one of their own know anything? Because to them, this man Jesus was no different from them.  This man Jesus was no closer to God; he was not special.   He was just like them, a product of Nazareth, a place where no good could come from. He was the son of Mary and Joseph.  He was the one who they used to play in the yard with, with his brothers James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.  He was just like them.  How could he speak with such wisdom, such wisdom that showed he was deeply connected to God? How could he seem to speak with more knowledge than the priests? Is not this the carpenter?  They were so caught up in the ways that the world had rejected them, that they seemed to believe the lies.  No good could come from Nazareth, they were less than, poor, distasteful, unworthy, untrustworthy.  These people had believed all the lies bestowed upon them. They believed the stereotypes that the world had pressed in upon them.  How often do we also believe the lies that the world tells us about ourselves: We are too old, too small, too feeble, too separated, too weak, too negative, too this, and too that.  The people had believed the lies of the world so much so that they had trouble seeing the greatness of Jesus sitting right amongst them.  Sitting with them as a chosen people, sharing their identity, situation, and circumstance.   While the world rejected them, God loved them so much that God sent them a Christ that looked like them, knew their journey, knew their struggle.  And yet outside forces, a systemic structure of oppression that shaped the way they see things had kept them from opening their eyes to see Jesus. Is not this the one just like us?  Is not this the carpenter?  

            We see here that the people did not know with whom they were with, they did not know the greatness of this man.  They did not know that he was the Messiah they had waited for.  They did not know that he was God made flesh stepping into the realm of time.  They did not know that he would offer up himself to as a living sacrifice.  They did not know he would challenge the oppressive Roman structure and the emperor by proclaiming he was the Savior of the world.  They did not know that he would suffer the bruises and beatings for the sins and iniquities of all of humanity.  They did not know that he would be stretched out on the cross, suffocating and gasping for air. They did not know that he would breathe his last and die. They did not know in his death he would justify us and reconcile us to God.  They did not know that after resting in the tomb for three days on that third day he would rise with all power in his hands granting new life, restoration, redemption, and liberation for all of humanity.

 II. Open Your Eyes To Christ

            They did not know the greatness of Jesus.  They didn’t know any of these things about Jesus.  They didn’t know who he was.  They didn’t know. They just didn’t know.  So whether it was jealousy or lack of appreciation they had to ask the question, who does he think he is? Is this not the carpenter? They did not know what we know. But sometimes God places the one we should be looking for right in front of our faces.  Even on our Old Testament Lesson Ezekiel to speak the words of the Lord to the people.  And God talks about how the people may refuse him and what God has given them.  In this we must remember that we have to open our eyes to what God is sending us because sometimes it is right in front of us.  Sometimes it takes us breaking down the societal structures we have been fostered in to open our eyes to see Christ in front of us, to see the movement of God right in front of us.

            We know Jesus to be fully God and fully human.  Jesus showed us how to love one another, how to pray, how to feed the hungry, how to intentionally connect to God, how to be fishers of people, how to be gracious to others, how to value the children.  He did all this.  We as the people of God understand that Jesus was both God and human, but in that he was able to show us what full connection to God within the realm of humanity looks like.  And while we can never be Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, we seek to live a life that reflects Christ.  We seek to put on the mind of Christ.  We seek to achieve a full and intimate relationship with God that allows us to function in the ways of Christ without thinking.  We are seeking to fully embody Christ’s love, Christ’s peace, Christ’s action to care for others, Christ’s obedience to God, Christ’s dedication to God, Christ’s ability to tell the story and evangelize.  We seek to be fully connected to God that we might live into what God has called us to do.

            One thing that we see from Jesus’s story is that sometimes when we become so connected to God and we walk firmly in the call that God has for us, those around us may not understand us.  Those around us may look down on us.  Those around us might reject what we have worked hard for.  Those around us might project their negativity onto you.  Those around us may even place the negative opinions of themselves onto you.  But we must remember that God has expertly crafted each of us and has called us to something.  But we only know this through our connection to God. Jesus has taught us that just because the rest of the world doubts, just because the world closes in on us, just because the world might misunderstand doesn’t mean we should stop what God has called you to.  That means if God has called you to ministry stand in that, if God has called you to finances stand in that, if God has called you to serve others stand in that, if God has called you to working with the earth then stand in that.  If God has called us as a church to unify and love one another then stand in that.  If God has called us to serve the community we are located in then stand in that.  We must stand in what God has called us to, even of the world around us refuses to understand.

 III. Conclusion

            So our scripture teaches us three things.  First, we must understand that we must stand in what God has called us to.  When we are connected to God and intentionally build our relationship in prayer and obedience, we then are able to discern what God has called us to do.  And then we take the actions that God leads us to. Secondly, we must open our eyes to the movement of God in front of us. And Thirdly, we see that no matter what the world says, we know who Jesus is.  We aren’t mistaken, we aren’t confused about who Jesus is.  Because we know that he is the Messiah, we know he has claimed us, we know that he has justified us, we know that he has granted us grace, we know that he has redeemed us, we know that he has liberated us, we know that he has granted us new life, we know he is the savior of the world.  We know who Jesus is and because of that we have put him at the head of our lives, we have turned to him. Is he not the carpenter? Is he not the Son of Mary? Is he not the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? The answer to this is yes, but he is so much more. He is the Messiah that was sent, he is the king, he is the savior of the world, he is the one we give our lives to, the one whose hand we put our hand in, He is God made flesh.  For we know who we believe in and we are persuaded that he is able. So, we give our lives to Christ and we share it with the world. Is not he the carpenter? Well, he IS the messiah. He IS the savior. He IS God himself. Amen.