More Than a Carpenter
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Dr. Josh McDowell wrote a book several years ago titled More Than a Carpenter. This best-selling book presents a strong case for the deity and purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jill Heatherly shares the following in an editorial review, “Since its release, More Than a Carpenter has been challenging readers to ask the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ Author and renowned speaker Josh McDowell acknowledges that while the topic of God is widely accepted, the name of Jesus often causes irritation. ‘Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius offend people? The reason is that these others didn’t claim to be God, but Jesus did.’ By addressing questions about scientific and historical evidence, the validity of the Bible, and proofs of the resurrection, McDowell helps the reader come to an informed and intelligent decision about whether Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.”
Dr. Luke records Jesus’ first visit to His hometown of Nazareth. From Luke 4:16-30, we read, “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, / Because He has anointed Me / To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, / To proclaim liberty to the captives / And recovery of sight to the blind, / To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ Then He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”
The focus of our attention relates to the passage in Mark 6:1-6, where we read about Jesus’ return to Nazareth for the second time. From our passage we read, “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.’ Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.”
Please note three truths from our text.
I. First, there is a startled reaction to Jesus’ Sonship.
They were astonished over Jesus’ ministry. His message and miracles attested to the fact that He was and is the Son of God. Obviously, His words and works were not things He learned in Nazareth. Regrettably, in essence they said, “We are familiar with Him. We know Jesus is just a common man.” After reading several commentaries, we find the maxim, “Familiarity breeds contempt” applied to this passage. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 B.C. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never before seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was nearly frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! ‘And so it is,’ Aesop concluded, ‘that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.’
The maxim, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, can you imagine a loving husband and wife thinking less of each other because they know each other so well? Or two dear friends starting to despise each other because their friendship has deepened over the years? [Dr.] Phillips Brooks [1835-1893] said it best: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible things or among contemptible people.’ The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus Christ, but it said a great deal about them!”
In Luke 2:41-50, Dr. Luke also records the following about Jesus’ visit to the temple at age 12, “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’ And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.”
We read in Luke 4:31-32, “Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” In a parallel passage recorded in Mark 1:21-22, we read, “Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
We read about yet another situation in Matthew 22:23-33, “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”
II. Second, there is a stumbling repulsion about Jesus’ Messiahship.
They were offended at Jesus’ humility. They presented evidence to contradict the divinity of Jesus Christ. In essence they said, “We know His family.” If He came as a “hometown hero” they would have likely welcomed Him. According to Bible prophecy, they expected the Messiah to come. Sadly, they did not understand Isaiah 52:13-53:12 which presents the mystery of the Messiah, as a suffering servant. The Rock of Ages is also a stone of stumbling. Isaiah prophesies of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 8:14a, “He will be as a sanctuary, / But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense / To both the houses of Israel. . .” Paul writes in Romans 9:30-33, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, / And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”
We read the following beatitude in Matthew 11:6, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Jesus’ earthly ministry was a mixture of meekness and majesty. According to Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Paul shares the following commentary on the life and ministry of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11. Here, we read, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Beware, many of those who “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” at that time will not go to heaven. It will be too late for them. However, at this time, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:9-13).
We read in 1 Peter 2:4-8, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, / ‘Behold, I lay in Zion / A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, / And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, / ‘The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and / ‘A stone of stumbling / And a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”
Dr. Kenneth Samuel Wuest (1893-1962) shares the following comment on the situation recorded in Mark 6:1-6, “They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him.”
III. Third, there is a stiff-necked rejection of Jesus’ Lordship.
They were closed to Jesus’ sovereignty. On several occasions Jesus demonstrated His authority in word and deed as the sovereign Lord of all. For example, we read in Mark 1:21-28, “Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’ And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.”
Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest shares this comment on Mark 1:28, “The report concerning the new Teacher spread with lightning speed by word of mouth.” Those of Nazareth rejected Jesus in spite of His fame. He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews in Nazareth and He marveled at the faith of the Centurion, a Gentile (Luke 7:9). Jesus shares in His Parable of the Minas, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us’” (Luke 19:41). This was the attitude of those in Nazareth.
We read about Jesus in John 1:10-13, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Jesus never returned to Nazareth after the event recorded in Mark 6:1-6. From Matthew 4:12-16 we learn that Jesus set up His base of operation in Capernaum. Here we read, “Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, / By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, / Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, / And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death / Light has dawned.’”
It is my prayer that you will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and that you will know without question that Jesus Christ is more than a carpenter.
Jill Heatherly, editorial review of More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, Available from: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Carpenter-Josh-McDowell/dp/0842345523 Accessed: 03/29/12
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 2001) p. 129, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Kenneth Samuel Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader , Mark in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Co., 1950, 1998), p. 121
Kenneth Samuel Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader , Mark in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, Co., 1950, 1998), p. 36
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
© June 10, 2012 All Rights Reserved