Reading “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” Matthew 13:55

What a remarkable fact in the history of Jesus does this question, asked with mingled surprise and contempt, betray! It presents Him in a point of light in which, perhaps, few have paused to study Him, and yet than which there is scarcely another more real and instructive. It invites us to consider Jesus as the Son of man, as the son of a carpenter, and in all probability, until He began to be about thirty years of age, assisting Joseph in his humble calling. Hence it was asked concerning Jesus, “Is not this the carpenter?”

How truly did the Son of God identify Himself with the humanity and the curse He came to ransom and remove. And when we see those hands which built the universe building earthly dwellings for man—plying the saw, thrusting the plane, driving the nail—we see Him tasting the bitterness of that part of the curse which we must endure, “In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread.” We learn from this that obscurity of birth and lowliness of trade are no dishonour. God looks on man’s outward estate with a very different eye to that with which the world looks upon it. You ask for the proof. Behold, the Incarnate Son of God, instead of selecting, as He might have done, a princess for His mother and a palace for His birth, no, His reputed father is a carpenter, His mother, though of royal lineage, is too poor to present on the day of her purification an offering more costly than “a pair of turtle-doves.”

You are, perhaps, taunted for your obscure birth, looked down on for your humble calling and social position, and are discouraged from any attempt to rise above it and strike out a path of wider influence and nobler exertion. But learn from Jesus that there is no dishonour in humble parentage, that true dignity belongs to honest toil, and that personal piety, consecration to God, and far-reaching usefulness to man may be closely associated with those whose niche in society is low in the scale and whose walk through life is along its more shaded and secluded pathway.

We have referred to labour. Our divine Saviour might be termed a “working man.” He was, in early life, a carpenter. Labour was concurrent with man’s creation. Before the fall, God sent him into the garden to keep it. Idleness was no part of our original constitution; God never intended that man’s powers should be stunted and that his life should evaporate in useless and shameful repose. Be up, then, and doing; be earnest in any and every sphere in which God may place you.

Consider Jesus! He knows your walk. He will sympathize with and give you grace for the difficulties and discouragements, the temptations and trials peculiar to your position in life. Your “light will shine out of obscurity,” and, humble though your course and limited though your sphere may have been, you will not have lived for God and for man in vain.

Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).

Edited and abbreviated by Aaron Dunlop for this blog. ©