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  • Jillian Kittrell

The craftsmanship of Jesus



My son Jake is in the “Why” phase of life. He is the most curious 3 years old ever, and he wants to know “why” about everything.

Why are our eyes different colors?

Why are the dinosaurs gone?

Why is my body full of blood?

I mean seriously, Jake’s brain is full of wonder and he wants real answers. Big boy answers.

Sometimes I give him legitimate responses. And other times, I regret not paying more attention in any of my science classes because I seriously have no clue. And he totally can tell. My attempts to satisfy his curiosity with simplistic answers often lead me to just surrender and say, “I don’t know Jake. That is how God created it to be,” or “Ask your Dad when he gets home.”

And he does. Always.

Typically the “why this” and “why that” conversations happen in the car, while running errands or carpooling the big kids back and forth to school. And one day last week, the “why” questions were all about rocks.

After observing construction workers at a red light for a moment, I could see Jake’s mind spinning in the rear-view mirror. As the light turned green and we began to drive away he kept his serious gaze out the window.

“Mom?” he called and I braced myself for another question I probably wouldn’t know the answer to.

“Why do people break rocks?”

And so we began what turned into a 20-minute discussion on rocks. Why people use rocks, what machines and tools are needed to break rocks, where we can find rocks, the sizes of rocks, the colors of rocks, and how much he loves rocks and would never, ever break them himself.

Then he dozed off to sleep and I had to smile. One, because I love the little kid so stinkin’ much. But also because, ironically, rocks (or stones) of another kind have been on my mind so much lately. And just like Jake, I never, ever want them to break either.

Skim through the pages of the Bible, and it won’t take you long to notice that Jesus, along with multiple writers of both the Old and New Testaments, are all about the rock/stone references.

The Lord is our “rock” our fortress, and our deliverer (Psalm 18:2).

Jesus was the “stone” that was rejected (Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42).

And He is now our “living stone” (1 Corinth 10:4, 1 Peter 2: 4-5).

The Apostle Simon Peter’s name literally meant “stone” in Greek, and was the “stone” in whom Jesus said would start the church (Matthew 16:18).

As the church, Jesus is now our “chief cornerstone” who we are all built upon (1 Corinthians 2: 19-22).

If we are wise, we will build our lives on “the rock” (Matthew 7: 24-27).

And as members of Christ’s body, we are also “living stones” being built together to make a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Over and over again the reference to Jesus, the church, and stones are intermingled. But why?

Matthew 13:55 states that Jesus was the son of a carpenter, Joseph. According to the traditions of the day, it is most likely that Jesus followed in his earthly father’s footsteps and learned the same craft as well. But what was Joseph’s craft exactly?

Take a deeper look at the word “carpenter” in the original Greek and you will realize it could have actually meant multiple things. “Tekton” was a word that described a number of craftsman jobs. According to theNew American Commentary, the word can refer to a stonemason, carpenter, shipbuilder, sculptor, or even a physician.

So how do we know which one actually applied to Joseph, and therefore Jesus?

Trade wise, it is most likely that Joseph was a stonemason. Taking into consideration that at the time Jesus was growing up, Nazareth was almost barren of trees, and 90% of construction was done with stone, we can infer that Joseph’s main trade had to do more with stone rather than wood. And therefore stone would have been the primary building element Jesus grew up working with.

(Side note: spiritually wise, Jesus may have been a stonemason, but just take a look at all those possible translations and how each of them points straight to Jesus anyway. Jesus is our cornerstone (stonemason), who died on a wooden cross (carpenter), who discipled fishermen and calmed the storms from boats (shipbuilder), who sculpts us like jars of clay (sculptor), and who healed the sick because His father is the Great Physician (physician). Mind blown, right?)

Anyway, let’s go ahead and say that Jesus was a stonemason. How much more do all those scriptures become alive to you now? The idea that Jesus was a man who knew how to build physical homes with physical stones on earth, while at the same time uses us living stones to build His own kingdom in Heaven is, well, pretty cool. Don’t ya think?

After my rock discussion with Jake the other day, I couldn’t help think of all the youth and staff at Emmaus House. How each one of them are living stones who Jesus is using to build His spiritual house, His kingdom, in Haiti. How He has placed Himself as the cornerstone, and is building each of them up, one by one, to make something beautiful, together.

I thought about Josie’s beautiful singing voice. Mackendy’s enthusiasm for sharing Christ with others. Jenny’s passion to serve those in need. Fredo’s talent to teach. Merly’s leadership skills. I thought about them all, and how purposefully Jesus is crafting them, chiseling them, cleaning them, polishing them, and forming them into the most beautiful stones. Stones that can be used to build up the church in Haiti, their communities, and their country.

But just as Jake witnessed the other day at the red light, rocks can be broken and turned into dust. And trust me, each one of the youth at Emmaus House has endured enough hardships and trauma to turn a boulder into dust. Thankfully, however, God can breathe life into dust and turn it into man. For God, no element is unusable. He is the Great Tekton who can build something out of anything, or even out of nothing at all.

This is why my hope is so great for our youth and for Emmaus House. Because I know the One who is crafting our program and the lives of those we serve is the greatest Craftsman of them all. And His work is always beautiful.

And this is why I have hope for you too. Maybe you are cracked and stained. Maybe you feel buried deep beneath the soil. Maybe you no longer feel like your house is on the rock, but instead on sinking sand. If so, remember Jesus is a skilled craftsman, and no matter what state you are in, He can restore you to your true form and build you into something beautiful.

“Why?” Jake would then ask. Why would He take the time to do this for me, for you?

Because He loves you. He loves me. He loves the youth at Emmaus House.

It’s as simple as that.

- Jillian

For further reading:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/jesus-carpenter-or-stonemason-181531/

https://opentheword.org/2018/03/26/jesus-a-carpenter-or-stonemason/


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