The New Testament word for carpenter, tekton, denotes an artisan, a craftsman, one who is a builder.
The Scriptures reveal Christ as Carpenter of the universe: “Through Him all things were made” (John 1:3). The hands that held the hammer and worked the saw here on earth were hands that carpentered the fathomless galaxies and the infinite depths of creation. Those hands that shaved and smoothed the wood at the carpenter’s bench in Nazareth also created the stars and the planets with their perfect design and precision.
The Cosmic Carpenter by the miracle of the Incarnation became the Carpenter of Nazareth. The question of our text asked by the disaffected Nazarenes is the only window in the Scriptures through which we may look on the years of His young manhood. These few words speak volumes to us about the silent years. This portrait of our Lord as a Carpenter suggests many things that would characterize His daily round of toil.
The absence of Joseph from the later gospel narratives suggest that the wise and humble father of that family had been laid to rest, and Jesus, as the elder brother, took over the support of the family by the trade He had mastered in His father’s shop. Then finally, when the other brothers and sisters were old enough, He made His last yoke. After shaking the wood shavings from His tunic for the last time, He went out to build the eternal kingdom of God in the hearts of men.
This portrait of Christ as a Carpenter identifies Him with mankind. How reassuring it is to know that He who now holds a scepter in His hand once held a hammer and a saw. Often His hands were bruised and torn by the grain. As He worked day after day, making the wood obedient to His skill, His hands became as strong as a vise. They became roughened and calloused, the kind of hands strong fishermen would look at and know that they could follow Him with confidence. He knew the meaning of toil. He understands our burdens, our weariness, our tasks.
As the Carpenter, Christ forever sanctified human toil. Our tasks are given dignity by the One who worked amid the wood shavings at the carpenter’s bench for the greater part of His life.
Today, the Carpenter of Nazareth who once smoothed yokes in His skillful hands, would take a life that is yielded to Him, smooth the coarseness of its grain, work out its flaws and imperfections, and fashion it into a beautiful and useful instrument of God’s eternal kingdom.
Henry Gariepy, Portraits of Christ