“Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55).

What would we do without carpenters? Over 900,000 of these skilled trade workers in the United States build homes, install cabinets, repair buildings, and assemble different types of structures, just to name a few of the thousands of jobs they tackle. Carpenters typically work with wood and often focus on the rough work of framing homes, but some build cabinets and furniture. A carpenter is usually the first tradesperson to arrive on the job and the last to leave.

Carpenters built one of the oldest wooden churches in the world, called The Church of St. Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar, in Essex, England. It is probably the oldest wooden building in Europe. The fifty-one timber planks that you can see today date from around ad 1060. Excavations under the chancel floor indicate that two earlier buildings were constructed on the site around the sixth or seventh century. You can still visit and worship in this historic structure.

Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3) and was referred to as “the carpenter’s son.” His earthly father Joseph worked in Nazareth and must have taught Christ the trade. Some scholars indicate that the Greek word translated carpenter (tekton) may also be translated more broadly as “artisan,” “contractor,” or even “handyman.” We do not have a record of what Joseph and Jesus constructed. It may have been furniture, buildings, or yokes for oxen.

What must it have been like for Joseph, a simple carpenter, to teach Jesus, the Creator of the world, how to cut and shape wood? In one sense, Jesus was greater than Joseph, yet the Bible says, “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them” (Luke 2:51). Though the people of Nazareth questioned Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah by referring to Him as “the carpenter’s son,” Christ showed respect for his tradesman father.

O Lord, may I honour my earthly parents and show them appreciation for the things they have taught me.

For Further Study: Matthew 1:16–25; Luke 2:49, 50; Philippians 2:6–8

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