Isn’t this the carpenter…?
We don’t know much about Jesus’s childhood. After being born in a stable, he was visited by shepherds and wise men, and he was protected from Herod by Joseph. He had brothers and sisters, and he grew up in a family. That’s about all that’s mentioned in the Bible about Jesus’s childhood, except for one other thing; one moment that was worth recording – at the age of 12, Jesus went missing.
He disappeared for three days whilst journeying back to Nazareth with his family from a Jewish festival in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph assumed he was with the group and when they discovered that he wasn’t with them, they frantically searched for their eldest son for three whole days.
They eventually found him in the temple in Jerusalem. The boy Jesus had spent this time there in God’s House, answering questions and amazing the people in the temple with his knowledge and understanding. It was a glimpse of what he would become as a leader and teacher, a glimpse of his destiny as the Son of God.
At this point – at the moment Mary and Joseph found him – Jesus could have told his parents that they’d located him where he belonged; that he had found his calling.
He could have stayed in the temple. But he didn’t. Jesus left the temple and he went home.
And in the way all Jewish boys began to learn their father’s trade at the age of 12, Jesus did just that, immediately after that first flash of what he would become, Jesus began his Carpenter Years.
For 18 years, Jesus was a carpenter. It’s the longest he did anything on this earth.
For 18 years, Jesus honoured his earthly father and the house he was growing up in by learning and working in the family trade.
He served in his house. He was part of a team; he contributed to his family in a practical way.
And not just that, he took on responsibility; Jesus’s earthly father most probably passed away before Jesus began his ministry.
There is no mention of Joseph in the gospels, and as he was about to be led away to be crucified, Jesus asked his brother to care for Mary. He wouldn’t have done that if Joseph was alive.
As the eldest son, Jesus had taken responsibility for the family and house he was a part of. It was responsibility that wasn’t directly and obviously connected to his reason for being on this Earth.
How often do we look at what we are doing and not quite see how it’s connected to the big picture?
For 18 years, Jesus was building family. He didn’t spend that amount of time doing anything else – taking time to invest in earthly family was that important to the Son of God. There are times in our lives when investing in our family is the most significant thing we can do. How often do we try to rush this time or think of it as inconsequential or a stop-gap?
For 18 years, Jesus was not moving in what appeared to be his ‘calling’. He was sawing wood and building houses. His cousin meanwhile was touring, preaching and baptising people – exactly the things that Jesus’s ministry would become known for.
How many times do we look at what others are doing and compare our journey with theirs?
The Carpenter Years. They define us (“isn’t this the carpenter…?) They make us. Our Carpenter Years are about building relationships, and learning from and honouring those around us. We need to be mindful of them. We need to do these years well. Because, like Jesus, chances are that these years will make up the majority of our life on Earth.
Sarah is the Teams and Volunteers Pastor at Hope City Sheffield, she is married to Joe and has three boys – Zachary, Caleb and Hudson. She loves food, words and is a little bit addicted to Candy Crush.