Proverbs 8:22-31: THE CRAFTSMAN AT GOD’S SIDE
Have you ever watched a craftsman working hard at his craft? Maybe you’ve watched a construction crew build a house. While we were remodeling this building, I watched all kinds of craftsman - a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician – each one worked hard at carrying out his craft. I think it’s interesting watching people put together things. You can learn a lot about people by watching them do their craft. Are they smart? Are they hardworking? What is this craftsman like?
In the books of Proverbs, Jesus describes himself as a craftsman. It’s true, at one time in his life, he was a carpenter. But in these verses, we see him in more advanced crafts. Today, we’re going to look at two very important things that Jesus crafted – the world, and our salvation. Our goal this morning, is to just sit and watch Jesus, the craftsman, and as we do, we’re going to learn a few things about him. We’re going to grow in our relationship with him. As the Holy Spirit works on you, you will be growing in your faith today.
You wouldn’t expect to find Jesus in the book of Proverbs. Most of the time, he’s in the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Mark. But here he is, in Proverbs chapter 8. The chapter begins by talking about wisdom. Wisdom is personified. Wisdom speaks as though it’s a person. For example, in verse 12, Wisdom says, “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence, I possess knowledge and discretion.” But then, in verse 22, as wisdom talks, it starts to sound like Jesus. And by the time the chapter is over, you know for sure that this IS Jesus that is talking. And that’s not just a coincidence. The Bible tells us that wisdom isn’t just a concept – it’s a person – Christ is wisdom, and wisdom is Christ.
When we picture Christ, we always picture him as the Son of God who started working AFTER he was born on Christmas. But according to the Bible, Jesus was working long BEFORE he was born on Christmas. Look at verse 22: “I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.” Christ existed before the world began. Verses 23: “When there were no oceans, I was given birth.” Or verse 24: “Before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth.”
We confess that truth in our Nicene Creed, when we say that we believe in Jesus Christ, who was “eternally begotten of the Father.” God the Father and God the Son existed together before the world came into existence. They were two separate persons, but one God, closely united together, before the world was made. Let me ask you this morning: can you fully understand that? That God the Son was begotten by God the Father before the creation of the world – is that something that you can fully understand?
What if I were to tell you that next week, for our children’s Sunday School, we are going to have a rocket scientist come in, and that rocket scientist is going to explain to our Sunday School children the complexities of the space shuttle program. He’s going to fill the wall with mathematical equations. He’s going to draw diagrams of engine parts. He’s going to explain how rocket fuel works. He’s also going to explain how all these things are funded. Do you think our Sunday School class will understand that rocket scientist? No – those things would be beyond their understanding, and probably our understanding too.
Completely understanding Christ is even more complex. How do you explain that that close bond, that unity, between God the Father and God the Son? There are certain times in the Bible when you just have to take a step back and say, “This is beyond me. I’m just going to believe it, without trying to understand it.” When the Bible says that Jesus was brought forth, or begotten, by the Father, from eternity, don’t try to understand it. Just stand in awe of Christ, and believe, and worship him.
Many people picture Christ as the Savior of all mankind, and that’s it. But the Bible tells us that Jesus was also involved in the creation of the world. Verse 27: “I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep…” Verse 30: “I was the craftsman at his side.” Jesus was the craftsman, the skilled worker, crafting the world alongside of God the Father, the two of them, as one God, working closely together. Christ, the water of life, crafting the lakes and the oceans. Christ, the rock of salvation, crafting the hills and mountains. And notice how Christ felt after he was finished crafting his creation, verse 30: “I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in the whole world, and delighting in mankind.” Christ is pictured as delighting in the creation of the world and especially delighting in mankind.
A couple of months ago I had a craftsman over to my house. He was a bricklayer, and he did some work for me. I came home just after he had finished his job, and he was just sitting on the back of his truck, admiring his work. “Besides getting paid,” he said, “This is the best part of my job.” He was taking great pleasure in a job well-done, and it looked very good.
That’s how the Bible pictures Christ at the creation of the world. He looked at what he had crafted – nature in all its beauty and majesty, and especially mankind, the most complex creation in the world, and he took great delight.
But Christ knew that soon, Satan would come, and along with Adam and Eve bring sin into the world. In 1989, on a routine flight from Chicago, an airplane’s middle engine fell apart. Pieces of the blade flew through the air, cutting the plane’s hydraulic lines. The pilot made an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa. They just had this on TV last week, the video footage of the plane somersaulting down the runway in a ball of fire. About half of the passengers on board were killed. It took years to discover the cause of the crash. It was finally concluded that when the titanium fan hub was manufactured, an almost microscopic bubble remained on the metal. That little bubble went undetected for 20 years, but it finally led to a tiny crack, which led to a bigger crack, which led to the entire plane going down.
When Christ crafted the universe, there was nothing wrong with it. But he saw that sin was coming, a tiny mistake that his human beings would make, which could lead to the entire world going down. And so, after crafting the world, Jesus crafted something else – our salvation.
Verse 31 of Proverbs tells us why Christ was willing to die for us. It’s because he “delighted in mankind.” That’s his unexplainable love the Bible calls grace. In verse 35, Jesus talks about eternal life, when he says, “Whoever finds me finds life, and receives favor from the Lord.” The blueprint that Jesus followed when he crafted our salvation was a very difficult one. He had to stop being the craftsman AT THE FATHER’S SIDE. He had to leave the Father, and go to the cross. There on the cross, Jesus was separated from his Heavenly Father, far far away from his Father’s presence. Jesus even expressed that when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” How painful this must have been for Christ. Remember, he had been at the Father’s side from eternity. At the creation of the world. Together, they had delighted in mankind. But as he hung from the cross, the Father sacrificed his Son, turned his back on him. That’s how Christ crafted our salvation – by allowing himself to be torn away from his Father’s side, dying as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
It has been said that great things aren’t made without great sacrifice. On this day, sixty years ago, D-Day took place, when thousands of soldiers sacrificed themselves as they stormed the beaches of France. They made something that day. You could say that each one of those soldiers was a craftsman, and what they crafted was freedom. And they did that by sacrificing their lives, sixty years ago today.
The “Christian D-Day” was Good Friday. On that day, Christ stormed the hill called Golgotha. He was a man, but he was also God from eternity, and there on that hill he crafted our salvation by sacrificing his life. There has never been anything greater ever crafted, at such a great sacrifice, than the salvation of mankind, which Christ made for us.
Then the Father raised his Son from the dead on Easter morning. And on Ascension, Christ ascended into heaven, once again assuming his place at the Father’s side. Today the Father and the Son share with us the Holy Spirit, who works in us, once again like a craftsman. And what is it that the Holy Spirit crafts inside of us? It’s our faith.
And so today, on this Trinity Sunday, we stand back in awe. All of these things are just too lofty, too profound, for us to fully understand. We stand in awe especially of Christ, the craftsman at the Father’s side, the maker of our world. But more than that, he is the maker of our salvation. Today, we thank him, and honor him, and worship him. Amen.
(Some illustrations taken from Concordia Pulpit Resources, 2004.)