Articles

The Choice of the Carpenter

By Wade and William Cornelius

I sat in the front of the classroom taking notes and listening intently to the lecture. Math may not be an exciting subject, but I was feeling enthusiastic. It was just a semester before that I wondered if the mysterious concepts of Trigonometry would ever make sense to me. The D on my fall report card reinforced this notion. Fortunately, something happened that spring to change my mind – a fresh perspective. I welcomed the explanations from a new instructor that knew exactly how to lift the fog of confusion from my mind. 

Studying Scripture brings about the same experience. We may become confused with one passage or think we’ve learned all there is from a particular chapter or verse, but a conversation with a friend, a sermon from a pastor, or in the reading of a book, we come to discover something more. It is God’s way of reminding us His Word is inexhaustible and that He speaks to each of us personally. 

We are meant to share what the Holy Spirit has revealed to each of us. It can offer comfort, encouragement, and new insight. Our Lord proclaimed, “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”1

For over ten years my father and I have enjoyed the blessing of sharing the faith with Tu Revista Latina readers, but we’re still students of Scripture and have been blessed to learn of what the Holy Spirit has revealed to fellow believers.

Max Lucado is such a person. His talent for storytelling has helped us appreciate Scripture in a way we’ve never considered. I was pleased that his publishing company allowed me to share an example of his work entitled, “The Choice of the Carpenter.” I hope it offers new insights into the life of our Lord and draws you closer to His love.

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The heavy door creaked on its hinges as he pushed it open. In a few strides he crossed the silent shop and opened the wooden shutters to a square shaft of sunshine that pierced the darkness, painting a box of daylight on the dirt floor.

He looked around the carpentry shop. He stood for a moment in the refuge of the little room that housed so many sweet memories. He balanced the hammer in his hand. He ran his fingers across the sharp teeth of the saw. He stroked the smoothly worn wood of the sawhorse. He had come to say good-bye.

It was time for him to leave. He had heard something that made him know it was time to go. So he came one last time to smell the sawdust and lumber.

Life was peaceful here. Life was so . . . safe.

Here he had spent countless hours of contentment. On this dirt floor he had played as a toddler while his Father worked. Here Joseph had taught him how to grip a hammer. And on this workbench he had built his first chair.

I wonder what he thought as he took one last look around the room. Perhaps he stood for a moment at the workbench looking at the tiny shadows cast by the chisel and shavings. Perhaps he listened as voices from the past filled the air.

“Good job, Jesus.”

“Joseph, Jesus—come and eat!”

“Don’t worry sir, we’ll get it finished on time. I’ll get Jesus to help me.”

I wonder if he hesitated. I wonder if his heart was torn. I wonder if he rolled a nail between his thumb and fingers, anticipating the pain.

It was in the carpentry shop that he must have given birth to his thoughts. Here concepts and convictions were woven together to form the fabric of his ministry.

You can almost see the tools of the trade in his words as he spoke. You can see the trueness of a plumb line as he called for moral standards. You can hear the whistle of the plane as he pleads for religion to shave away unnecessary traditions. You can picture the snugness of a dovetail as he demands loyalty in relationships. You can imagine him with a pencil and a ledger as he urges honesty.

It was here that his human hands shaped the wood his divine hands had created. And it was here that his body matured while his spirit waited for the right moment, the right day.

And now that day had arrived.

It must have been difficult to leave. After all, life as a carpenter wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all. Business was good. The future was bright and his work was enjoyable.

In Nazareth he was known only as Jesus, the son of Joseph. You can be sure he was respected in the community. He was good with his hands. He had many friends. He was a favorite among the children. He could tell a good joke and had a habit of filling the air with contagious laughter.

I wonder if he wanted to stay. He could do a good job here in Nazareth. Settle down. Raise a family. Be a civic leader.

I wonder because I know he had already read the last chapter. He knew that the feet that would step out of the safe shadow of the carpentry shop would not rest until they’d been pierced and placed on a Roman cross.

You see, he didn’t have to go. He had a choice. He could have stayed. He could have kept his mouth shut. He could have ignored the call or at least postponed it. And had he chosen to stay, who would’ve known? Who would have blamed him?

He could have come back as a man in another era when society wasn’t so volatile, when religion wasn’t so stale, when people would listen better.

He could have come back when crosses were out of style.

But his heart wouldn’t let him. If there was hesitation on the part of his humanity it was overcome by the compassion of his divinity. His divinity heard the voices. His divinity heard the hopeless cries of the poor, the bitter accusations of the abandoned, the dangling despair of those who are trying to save themselves.

And his divinity saw the faces. Some wrinkled. Some weeping. Some hidden behind veils. Some obscured by fear. Some earnest with searching. Some blank with boredom. From the face of Adam to the face of the infant born somewhere in the world as you read these words, he saw them all.

And you can be sure of one thing. Among the voices that found their way into that carpentry shop in Nazareth was your voice. Your silent prayers uttered on tear-stained pillows were heard before they were said. Your deepest questions about death and eternity were answered before they were asked. And your direst need, your need for a Savior, was met before you ever sinned.

He left because of you.

He laid his security down with his hammer. He hung tranquility on the peg with his nail apron. He closed the window shutters on the sunshine of his youth and locked the door on the comfort and ease of anonymity.

Since he could bear your sins more easily than he could bear the thought of your hopelessness, he chose to leave. It wasn’t easy. Leaving the carpentry shop never has been.2

1 The Gospel of Luke 11 Verse 33

2 “The Choice of the Carpenter,” taken from God Came Near by Max Lucado © 1987 by Multnomah Press. Reprinted with Permission. 

Spring 2018

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