Friday, March 25, 2016


I've written before about all of the beautiful reasons why Jesus had to be the carpenter's son, but as we celebrate Good Friday today, the question cannot be ignored:

Who else would you nail to the Cross but a carpenter?

Jesus grew up around nails. He grew up watching His father, Joseph, crafting amazing pieces out of just wood and nails. He saw all the painstaking care that Joseph took with each piece, making sure every notch, every joint, every face was just right. He saw what it took to smooth the rough surfaces, to work out the imperfections, and sometimes, to work the imperfections in so that they became part of the unique beauty of the finished product.

He probably spent some of His own time working this same trade, as any good son would in that time in history. Not only did He see all of these things as His father worked, but He learned to work them Himself. Before He reached puberty, Jesus likely knew all the things one could possibly do with simple wood and a few nails. 

All the things plus one, which no one had ever conceived of before.

But He probably knew, too, just how futile all of these human endeavors at carpentry were. He probably understood that even the most beautiful things He or His father could create could become 'unclean' by the custom of Jewish law and would have to be destroyed. He knew they were subject to mold and mildew and would have to be destroyed. He knew they were prone to termites and pests that might eat away at their very structure until they could no longer stand.

He knew that over time, the beautiful finish would fade. The cracks would start to show. The nails might start to rust. Time destroys all good things, and no matter what He put His hands to in that workshop, nothing is immune from the ravages of a broken world. 

Yet He also knew all the amazing things that would take place with those simple pieces of wood. He knew the families who would share meals around those tables. He knew the precious possessions that might be displayed on those nightstands. He knew that some nights, the women would be kneading dough on those surfaces and other nights, the kids would be playing games, and still other nights, maybe those tables would sit empty. He knew that whatever He built, however temporary, would have a very real place in the stories that would unfold around those objects.

And so, the carpenter built.

And so, He went to Calvary.

I can't help but think that Jesus knew all these same things when He laid Himself on that Cross on Golgotha. He knew all the amazing things that would take place because of those simple pieces of wood. He knew this would bring families together, that it would become the centerpiece of their entire existence. He knew the special place it would have, drawing together communities. He knew the very real stories that would unfold around this Cross.

He knew how futile the human endeavor of it all was. How He, as a man, could do nothing unless He embraced what was divine in Him and became more than merely a man. He knew how without this divine act, His very story would be subject to death and decay, how it would be prone to mold and mildew and termites and pests and all the little things that eat away at a story until it's no longer anything at all. He knew how the Romans pictured this going, how they thought this was the end, but even that human endeavor was destined to fail. For this was not the end; it was only the beginning. 

And He knew all the things One can do with simple wood and a few nails.

And He chose the nails. 

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