The gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) focus on Jesus’ public ministry. For a period of three years he taught about the kingdom of God, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and even raised the dead. But before any of that, for about thirty years, Jesus lived in the family home. And for most of those years, he worked alongside his father Joseph in the family trade.
We think of Joseph as a carpenter, someone who worked with wood. But he may have been a stoneworker. The original language is not clear. What is clear is that Joseph was a builder of some sort. So he worked with his hands and with tools: perhaps making farm implements and furniture, or laying foundations. And Jesus did the same thing for probably about twenty years. The gospel books barely mention it. But they do give us that much.
Now, when Jesus began his teaching ministry, people for miles and miles around came to know him as a teacher and wonder-worker. They were in awe of him. But to the people in his hometown, he was just a guy who worked with tools in his hands. They couldn’t get beyond that.
We have the opposite problem. We know Jesus as the Son of God. And we can lose sight of his genuine humanity. But for most of his years, Jesus lived a life as ordinary as anyone’s, like yours or mine.
Jesus, you are the holy Son of God, and we praise you. You are also the ordinary son of Joseph, with tools in your hands—and to us that is wonderful. Amen.
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