Summary: Jesus was a Carpenter - but He changed His job.
I don’t know whether you are like me, but I love the feel of wood. Sometimes when I was at Iwerne Minster, I used to go into the Prayer Chapel and run my hands over the new altar, and over the wood of the new chairs we had installed. One year we went to Clayesmore School to see an exhibition by local artists - one of them was a local man who worked in wood - the things he produced were wonderful - bowls, candle-sticks, plates, animals......... I wanted to take them and stroke them and feel the smoothness and the grain.And, recently Jill bought a wooden Cross to take with her to the Hospital when she takes Holy Communion - some of the patients can’t see well enough to read the service, and some of them are a bit confused, so she gives them this Cross to hold and stroke - it helps them feel part of what’s going on.
From time to time I’ve thought that I’d like to be trained in the proper use of wood - but there’s just one problem. I have two left hands as far as "Do it Yourself" is concerned, and I don’t think I’d manage it no matter how hard I tried (Even so, I did take an old painted desk and sand it off and it doesn’t look at all bad in my study - so maybe I oughtn’t to sell myself down the river about my "Do it Yourself" possibilities).
But this business of wood is one of the things that makes Jesus real to me, because He had the same love of wood - he caught it from Joseph. His hands would have stroked a piece of wood as mine do. His heart would have thrilled to the beauty of a well-turned, well-fashioned wood creation, as He spent the first part of His life in His father’s shop learning how to make a chair that would not collapse the first time someone sat on it! His life was spent turning out plough-shares, and plates - and sometimes His hand would slip and He would have to start again - and sometimes it would slip and the blood would flow....but like every craftsman worth his salt, He would stick at it, and stick at it, until He had got as close to perfection as He could, no matter how late the hour.
And then came the day when He changed jobs. From fashioning wood He turned to fashioning men - and in this new profession, His true profession, He put in the same kind of love, the same kind of attention to detail, and the same dedication of purpose that He had given to those inanimate things made in His father’s shop in Nazareth........He fashioned things of beauty from men’s lives.
Sometimes He failed and had to start again, for sometimes His material, though beautiful on the surface was rotten underneath - but all the time He kept producing lives of beauty - men and women of love, walking in the truth - made new by the Master Craftsman of Galilee.
But, just as His blood was shed in that Carpenter’s shop at Nazareth, so it was shed in the workshop of the world. The Man who had spent His life fashioning men’s lives into things of beauty, was nailed to a Cross of wood by the very men He had come to shape.
Even before His hands were pinned to the wood - stretched out to feel it’s roughness - HE KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. This very night, on the day that we call Maundy Thursday, nearly 2,000 years ago, as He met with men and women He loved, He prepared them for His brokenness - "Take and Eat my Broken Body - Drink this Cup, my spilt Blood", for He knew that they could only be fashioned into His likeness through a wooden Cross.
They had to be broken of self importance, so that they were willing to serve as He had served them - washing their dirty feet. They had to die to selfishness as He would die, so that they could be set free to love.
As I close, I ask you to join with me in asking that we too might allow ourselves to be fashioned by Him - that our Lord, the Master Carpenter, will turn OUR lives into things of beauty - for God has a picture in His mind of what He wishes to do with us - and He has chosen a Carpenter’s bench, a Cross of Wood, on which to do the work. He will place us on it, and turn us into what He wants us to be.