Summary: This is taken from Sigmund Brouwer’s wonderful book of the same name. This speaks of the cross being only part of God’s plan of salvation for us, the empty tomb being the other. Jesus the carpenter wants to complete His work in us.
John 20:1-9 – The Carpenter’s Cloth
Tonight I’m going to share a thought with you that I read several years ago, and it has blessed me ever since. In fact, likely, you remember it since I read it to you on my 1st Easter Sunday message in Doaktown and Blissfield. I hope that it encourages you in your faith. Let’s read John 20:1-9.
Well, let’s go back a bit. As you likely know, Jesus had been a carpenter. He had been an apprentice in his earthly father Joseph’s shop before He entered a traveling, preaching and healing ministry at the age of 30. Back then, a craftsman’s life was not much different from now. Getting from job site to job site required travel, because of course the house does not come to the carpenter. Likewise, as a preacher, Jesus did not wait for people to come to Him, but He went to them.
Of course, another aspect of carpentry is being able to work in harmony with many other types of craftsmen. Jesus the preacher certainly had to deal with many types of personalities. Andrew and Judas, 2 of His disciples, were Zealots, rebels who were sworn to overthrow Roman rule. Meanwhile, Matthew was a tax collector, a paid employee of the same hated Romans. Yes, Jesus knew how to work with others.
Being a carpenter also meant that His reputation as a carpenter was based on the quality of His work. But that was not all. A carpenter needed to make sure his work was practical and had purpose. A carpenter, probably much to the dismay of a perfect God, could not afford to spend days perfecting a job that might take others only a few hours to finish. Likewise, Jesus had only 3 years of preaching, and so He made His advice practical, purposeful, and to the point.
It was these common, everyday, down-to-earth qualities that attracted people to Jesus. When He spoke, He attracted many listeners because He didn’t speak over their heads. He spoke to their level of understanding. He talked about fields and fish and crops and rain and sunshine and money and married life and working and building and houses and water, and somehow people understood God better and understood God’s ways better. He worked a person’s soul they way He had worked wood: carefully, practically, beautifully.
His preaching became harder and harder as the time passed. He spoke less of God’s kingdom and more of the cost of following Him. He made enemies among the religious leaders, and the ones who did follow Him did it secretly. As time passed, those who loved Him loved Him more, and those who didn’t like Him liked Him less and less.
Until His preaching ministry reached a climax at the age of 33. He had told enough people that they needed to get their lives straightened out, and they had had enough. They arrested Him, tried Him and found Him guilty of breaking their laws. Because of the lousy leadership of a puppet governor – Pilate – and an apathetic monarch – Herod Antipas – He was sentenced to death. He was beaten, whipped, tortured and mutilated. He was forced to carry His cross through the public streets of Jerusalem and up a hill that looked a lot like a skull. The cross was dropped in the ground, and Jesus the preacher was lifted high as a reminder to all commoners that breaking laws was a crime punishable by death.
For six hours that Friday, Jesus hung from his cross, hanging between two thieves. Darkness fell on the land at noon, which lasted until Jesus’ death at 3PM. Most of His followers had left Him. His female followers stayed near, as did John. Perhaps the others were avoiding being seen. Upon His death Joseph of Arimathea, one of those closeted followers, requested Jesus’ body. He and Nicodemas, another hidden disciple, prepared Jesus’ body for burial.
They laid Him out and wrapped His body with 70 pounds of graveclothes, spices and fragrant gum. And they placed the handkerchief around His head. Perhaps it was wrapped around the jaw, to prevent the mouth from opening. At any rate, it was separate from the rest of the wrappings. They placed His body in Joseph’s own grave, a private burial plot in a private garden. They laid their master to rest. No more a carpenter, no more a preacher, now just a corpse.
Let’s go back 3 years again. During Jesus’ time, there was one way a carpenter let the contractor know that the job was finished. It was a sort of signature.
Imagine a hot day in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job He has worked on for several days. The hair of His strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final drink of cool water from a leather bag.