Day 4 – The Carpenter
December 17, 2017
Written by Jonathan Vinke / Worship Director / Read more of his writing at JonathanVinke.com.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
A Carpenter’s story:
I can’t remember when I started working, but it must have been when I was twelve, just strong enough to mix mortar. Stacking stones and cutting timber has been as much a part of my life as learning the Torah or playing with my friends. But to be honest I never wanted more than work. I enjoyed the steadiness of a wall I could see and a job well done. I have never been a dreamer like my namesake, but that was fine with me. I know where that got him. For me, the world is rough and real and life is made of what you can get your hands on. I only wanted to live a quiet, ordinary life as a builder making a decent living. Then I met Mary.
I worked a lot through my teen years, so I didn’t have much time to notice girls. I was too busy for any of that stuff. My friends would scheme and dream about who their families would choose for their betrothed. I never cared that much. But Mary was different. She was quiet and strong, with dark eyes that looked right into your soul. When I saw her I felt like my hands were numb and I couldn’t walk straight, this was truly too much to hope for. Though our families were somewhat close, rumor was she would be betrothed to one of the rabbi’s sons, How could a builder compete with that?
I don’t know how it happened but on a clear afternoon as I was cleaning my tools and my father said we had to talk about something important. By some turn of events, Mary’s father had agreed that she would be betrothed to me, TO ME!! I couldn’t believe it. Her family was too poor for the demands of the rabbi’s bride price, so we would be married in two years’ time. I tried to hide my excitement but that didn’t make our run-ins in town any less awkward.
Over time Mary and I had gotten to know each other and were making preparations for the wedding. My sense of Mary’s strength and grace had been right, and I was humbled to be blessed by such an excellent wife. God had smiled upon my dreams to have my family and work in Galilee until my sons could take over the family business.
And then it happened: just a few months before the wedding my world came crashing down. It’s hard to describe how shocked I was when Mary told me she had been visited by an angel. But that wasn’t the worst of it. She told me she would have a child, a child…conceived by God. The pain was too much to bear. In an instant all of my hopes were crushed and I cursed myself for ever having loved her. Forget the family business. I would bury myself in my work. I would break the engagement and find a town where nobody knew me. Maybe Nazareth. Maybe I could still find work and be left alone.
I laid awake in bed for hours. How could she do this to me? Our life was perfect. How will I ever make sense of it? How will I ever forget her? Eventually my mind and body gave out and I fell into a restless sleep.
Sometime in the night my room blazed with a brilliant light. I sat up with a start and stared into the glaring brightness. “Who are you? What do you want?” I managed to spurt out. The messenger had eyes that blazed like hot embers. His voice was like the sound of a rushing waterfall after a heavy rain: “Joseph, son of your forefather David. Do not be afraid. Mary, whom you love, is telling you the truth. The child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will have a son and you shall call his name Jesus, Yeshua, the Savior. He will save his people from their sins.” And then, he was gone.
I again sat up in bed, not knowing if it had been real or a dream. The first light of dawn was grey through my window and I rushed to Mary’s house to find she hadn’t slept either. We held each other in a tearful embrace and thenI fell to my knees and took her hand and kissed it. “How can it be, that my Lord should entrust this task to you? And to me?” I pressed my ear against her womb as if to listen to the divine heartbeat. “I am the Lord’s servant. I will walk this road with you.”
The days went by quickly as they do in preparation for a wedding. But this time it was different. We carried a secret joy in our hearts knowing that the child to be born was unlike any other. The excitement in our hearts was deeper than knowing we would start a life together. It was that we would have front row seats to the greatest birth in history, the birth of the Messiah.
Even the census couldn’t steal our joy. You get used to things like that living under Roman rule. The travel was hard, especially with Mary’s time for delivery being so close. When we arrived in Bethlehem there were no rooms left anywhere. A census will do that. I had a relative who gave us the only lodging he could, with his livestock but this modest arrangement bothered me none, I didn’t care. This was the promised Child, the one we had been waiting for so many years. I felt that even the heavens themselves would sing for joy on this night, the night that God came to live with us.
When the chaos of the birth was over and all was quiet, I sat and looked at the child through my weary eyes. For once it was quiet. He was so tiny, so frail. How could such a little thing be the King of Glory?
I’ve never been much of a dreamer, but I could never dream of anything more beautiful than this. God had given this gift to the world, He had come to live with man and would save them from their sins. How would He do it? Will He be a conquering warrior or a wandering vagabond? And do I have what it takes to parent this Promised Child? I don’t know the first thing about raising a family, let alone the Son of God. I can only give Him what I have and trust that it will be enough. I will teach Him to work hard and live a quiet life. Rough hands, soft heart is what me and Mary say now. Yes, Lord, let it be so.
Yes, Lord, let it be so.