Jesus, The Carpenter
February 10th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM
JESUS, THE CARPENTER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-10-91 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Jesus, the Carpenter. In our preaching in the Book of Mark, we have come to chapter 6, and it begins like this:
When the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, and they said . . .
Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joseph, and Judah, and Simon? and are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him . . .
And Jesus could do no mighty work . . .
And He marveled because of their unbelief.
An exact response is here in the Bible, houtos, hutos estin ho tektōn. Houtos, a contemptuous word. You find it in Luke, chapter 15, verse1: houtos, “is not this guy,” talking about Jesus, is not this critter? “Look at Him,” houtos, “He accepts sinners, and He eats with them,” houtos [Luke 15:1-2]. “Is not this,” houtos estin ho tektōn, “the carpenter? Is not His mother here with us? Are not His brothers James, Joseph, Juda, Simon, aren’t they with us? And are not His sisters with us? [Mark 6:3]. And, yet, they say He is the Son of God. And they were offended in Him” [Mark 6:3].
One man standing, says, “He is the Son of God. I have lived by Him for twenty-five years, and the only thing I have ever heard about Him is they call Him ‘illegit.’ He is an illegitimate son. He was born out of wedlock. That is all I know about Him.” And another one says, “The plow I use in the field, He made it. He is the Son of God?” And another says, “The yoke that I use with my oxen, He made it. He is the Son of God?” And another says, “The chair that I sit in, He made it. He is the Son of God?” Houtos estin ho tektōn, “and they were offended in Him” [Mark 6:3].
One of my friends in the university was speaking to a brilliant student in the school who had come here from Japan. And in witnessing to him about our Lord, the brilliant scholar from Japan said, “You tell me, if a girl were to come to you unmarried, unwed, no husband, no man, and she were to say to you, ‘This Child born out of wedlock, this Child is conceived by God in heaven. He is the Son of God.’ Would you believe it?”
And my dear friend answered that brilliant Japanese scholar, and answered, “Yes, I would if, if the birth of that Child had been predicted thousands and thousands of years [Genesis 3:15]. If, when the Child was born, a star stood over where He laid [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10]. And if, when the Child was born, magi came from afar to bow down and worship [Matthew 2:11]. And if, when that Child grew to manhood, His ministry was beyond compare. He opened the eyes of the blind [John 9:1-7]. He cleansed the leper [Mark 1:40-42]. He healed the sick [Luke 4:38-40]. He raised the dead [John 11:43-44]. And if, when His ministry was done and He was slain [Matthew 27:32-50], the third day He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], and the angels of God received Him back into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], if that Child were that, yes, I would believe Him.”
And I would like to add one other. As marvelous and as glorious as the ministry of Jesus in Galilee and in Judea, it is nothing compared to the marvelous, incomparable ministry in the name of Christ in the world yesterday, and today, and the promise of it tomorrow.
Why are you so affirmative? Witness the testimony of our world and of human experience. Nobody that I ever heard of accused Charles Darwin of being a protagonist of the faith, the evolutionist Charles Darwin. But Charles Darwin, when he came back from his trip to the South Pacific, said, he said, “If anyone is ever shipwrecked in the South Pacific, he ought to pray and to hope that a missionary has preceded him into those islands, lest they be captured and boiled and their flesh eaten up by the cannibals.” Charles Darwin said that. Passing through to the South Pacific, Charles Darwin passed by the island of Tierra del Fuego, and Charles Darwin wrote, saying, the inhabitants of that island are subhuman, they are animals. To quote him, “They have no capability of moral distinction.” Some of the Christians of England read that, sent missionaries to Tierra del Fuego, and today they are model people with beautiful Christian lives and glorious Christian churches.
There is nothing comparable in human history or in human experience like the repercussion and the results and the summation of the ministry of the preaching of Jesus Christ. When our Lord was born there was not an orphanage in the world. When our Lord was born there was not a hospital in creation, not one. When our Lord was born women were chattel properties, sold like cows. And when our Lord was born the husband and the father had the choice of exposing the child if he didn’t want it. That meant they set it out on the road somewhere and the wild dogs ate it up. Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached there is the orphan home, there is the hospital, there womanhood and womankind is exalted, and our children are loved and cared for; the witness of human experience, the witness of moral sensitivity.
Uncle Cameron Townsend, my sweet friend of Wycliffe, who founded it, had me go down to visit the Aucas, the Indian tribe in the Amazon jungle; they had killed five of his Wycliffe missionaries. I went down, worshiped with them, preached to them. They had been won to the faith of the Lord Jesus. And I had their three leaders seated right here, one, two, three; these were the men who had slain in cold blood five of God’s faithful missionaries; seated there, humble followers of the Son of God.
Uncle Cameron Townsend asked me to go see Tyrere, who had been won to Jesus, a headshrinker. It was on my journey, you remember, that the airplane fell in the jungle and I was rescued and couldn’t make the journey there, so Uncle Cameron Townsend had him come here. And Tyrere sat right there. He had slain in cold blood uncounted numbers, and had taken their heads and had shrunk them and used them for models and for toys and for decorations. Now a faithful, humble Christian, seated here in our service; the amazing miracle of the power and the preaching of the Son of God.
And it is in our hearts. Isn’t it an unbelievable thing that I will accept the witness of the touch of my fingers, and the sight of my eyes, and the hearing of my ears, but I would turn aside from the voice of my heart? There is a tug in the human soul at the preaching of Jesus.
A blind boy flying a kite, a man came by and said, “You can’t see it. How do you know it is there?” And the blind boy said, “By the tug and the feel on the string.” That’s the way any man is who will listen to the saving gospel of the Son of God. There is a tug in it. There is a pull in it. There is a moving in it. I have felt it all of the days of my life. I feel it now.
Last: the witness of the loving heart of the grace of God. How is it that God, in His infinite compassion, sent His Son into the world to be born in poverty and in want? Why didn’t God send His Son into the world to be born into the home and house of the high priest, and thus to be chairman of the Sanhedrin? Why didn’t God send His Son into this world and let Him be born in the house of King Herod? Isn’t that what the magi thought? They went to King Herod and said, “Where is He, born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:1-2]. Why didn’t God send Him born in the house of the king? Why not then, when God sent His Son into this world to be born [John 3:17], why didn’t He make Him a son of the Roman Caesar, ruler of the civilized world?
How is it? When God sent His Son into the world, He was born in a stall and He was laid in a manger [Luke 2:11-16]. Do you know why? That’s because any one of us, how ever poor and needy, will feel at home in His presence. Anyone would feel welcome in a cattle stall and to bow at a manger. I don’t think there is anything prettier in this earth than when this choir and Fred and this sweet orchestra presents our Christmas pageant here. And here is a manger, and Gaspar and Melchor and Balthasar, the kings of the East, the magi, come and bow [Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11], but not they alone. Around that manger are the poor shepherds, all welcome [Luke 2:8-16]. That’s God in His grace and in His mercy. He sent His Son in the world, born in poverty, in a manger, that anyone might feel at home in His presence to bow before our Lord.
Why didn’t God send His Son into the world that He be a Socratic philosopher, or a student of Plato, or at least one of the great political dynamos of the world? Instead, houtos, this guy, He is a carpenter, He is a carpenter [Mark 6:3]. Evidently, Joseph died. He is never mentioned after the birth. And evidently, Jesus took care of His mother and of His brothers and sisters. And He worked with His hands. His hands were callused. He was a carpenter; that so that people who toil and work would feel at home in His presence.
“They were offended at Him” [Mark 6:3]. Luke, telling the story, says, “They took Him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built to cast Him down to death” [Luke 4:29]. Why did God make Him a toiling workman, not only in the days of His support of the family when He worked hard with His hands, but in the days of His ministry?
In John 4, Jesus, wearied, sat thus on the well [John 4:6]. And that poor, outcast Samaritan woman felt perfectly at home in His presence [John 4:9-12]. Why did God do that? So Jesus could say, “Come unto Me, all that labor and are heavy laden. . .And take upon you My yoke. . . And ye shall find rest for your souls” [Matthew 11:28-29]. There is no one who toils that is weary and no one who works and labors but is at home in the presence of our Lord Jesus.
And last: why did God send Him into this world to suffer and to die, outcast, hated, offended at Him, to the brow of their hill to cast Him to death [Luke 4:29], and finally to be condemned and nailed to the cross? [Matthew 27:26-35]. Why did God do that? So that He would taste death for every man [1 John 2:2]. So that He might pay the penalty of our sins and transgressions [1 Peter 2:24], and that we might be washed free in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 1:5]; so that we might stand in the presence of God, holy and pure, in His righteousness, and in His grace, and in His love [Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 1:21-22].
I have never seen a picture that moved more than this one that I looked upon. The artist had painted Jesus eighteen years of age, and in the carpenter’s shop where He is laboring, He is so working and His hand extended and His arms outreached. And in the back against the wall, the artist has painted a dark, black cross. He lived His life in the presence and in the prospect of that dying for us. God did that.
The poet has written “The Carpenter”:
That evening when the Carpenter swept out
The fragrant shavings from the workshop floor,
And placed the tools in order and shut to
For the last time the humble door,
And, going on His way to save the world,
Turned from the laborer’s lot for evermore,
I wonder, was He glad?
That morning, when the Carpenter walked forth
From the doorway, in the glimmering light,
And bade His loving mother farewell;
And through the sky with dawning bright
Saw looming the dark shadow of a cross,
Yet, seeing, turned His face to Calvary’s height,
I wonder, was He sad?
No; when the Carpenter went on His way,
He thought not of Himself for good or ill.
His path through shop or thronging men
Craving His help, led to the thorn-crowned hill.
In toiling, healing, teaching, suffering—all were
His joy, His life to do God’s will,
And heaven and earth are glad.
[from “The Carpenter,” S. Alice Ranlett, 1897]
Praise God for the gift of His Son who came into the world to live our life, to experience our toil, to die in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21], and to save our souls to heaven [Luke 19:10; Hebrews 10:5-14]. This is the love and grace of Jesus, God’s Son, the Carpenter [John 3:16].
A. Central Kingdom Hall
of Father Divine
response to “Father Divine” identical to that of those in Nazareth to Jesus (Mark 6:3, Luke 15:1-2)
II. The witness of His life and work
A. Brilliant Japanese
student – “Would you believe?”
B. Ministry in the name
of Christ yesterday, today and tomorrow
III. The witness of human history,
A. Charles Darwin’s
summation of Tierra del Fuego
missionaries to go
B. The witness of moral
1. Auca tribe in
C. The witness of our
deepest soul’s response
IV. The witness of the loving heart of our
A. The purpose of God
in the humility of His Son
1. Anyone would
feel welcome to bow at a manger
one who toils and is weary but is at home in His presence (Luke 4:29, John 4, Matthew 11:28-29)
3. He came to
taste death for every sinner