Before He Was Savior, He Was Carpenter

My father was a very hard worker. He used to be a road construction foreman, and he was one of those guys that knew just enough about how everything worked to be dangerous. Having grown up on a farm, he could fix just about everything that went wrong in the house or under the hood of car—well, “fix” is a term to use loosely. He could at least “jimmy-rig” stuff together with wires and duct tape until the electricity came back on or the plumbing worked again—for a while.

When I was in grade school, my parents took up a little hobby that turned into a side business. My father ended up being really good at carpentry at the height of country décor in the 80s. I remember watching him in his shop, his pencil behind his ear. His well-worn hands—a little dirt under his fingernails—precisely put shelves and benches, hutches and cupboards together. And at times he would restore antique furniture that people brought to him. After all of the measuring, sawing, pounding, and sanding, something useful and sturdy and full of character would emerge.

With the little bit of exposure I’ve had in my life to carpentry, this week I was reflecting on the occupation that Jesus had before He was teacher, Master, or Savior. For 15 years he apprenticed and worked his step father’s trade as carpenter. I love how God could have chosen for Jesus to do any number of vocations, but the work that prepared the Messiah for ministry was carpentry.

A carpenter builds and repairs. Those two main things comprise the whole of carpentry: building what is needed and restoring what is broken. He went from doing those things thoughtfully with wood to doing those things for people. Building what is needed in us; restoring what is broken.

I also find it more than coincidence that the carpenter, whose hands drove many nails themselves, allowed nails to be driven into his. How the man who worked carefully with wood, hung on a rugged, thrown-together wooden cross. How the one that put broken people back together again and healed them was broken himself by some of those same people. But he in great love endured because he knew he was the architect of life and destiny for all of mankind. He was the only One to repair relationship between us and God, and us and each other. He would fulfill his order perfectly.

Everybody who is pursued by Jesus has different levels of brokenness, yet he meets all of us where we are and goes to work fixing, if we’ll let him. His practiced eye for details recognizes overlooked potential. When we doubt that we could possibly offer anything to the world, he scans all the pieces of our experiences, desires and strengths and he says, “I can work all that together for good.”

In fact, Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s own handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has planned for us to do.” One simple act of surrender to put all of our broken pieces before him, and  he goes to work making all things new. That’s what Easter means to me this year.