53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-58) [KJV]
They built a boat.
Long ago a group of men built a boat. They took wood from trees they felled, and scraps from what was left over from other projects or from demolition, and carefully carved and sawed them into planks. Their weathered hands full of callouses gripped their tools firmly in their hands as they pressed and drew the edge of the bronze saw through the tough and hard wood, such as Oak, or even Cypress, or Cedar from Lebanon. They had their sons along, teaching them the trade skills necessary for providing for their families, and the trade for which they were building the boat- fishing.
Their arms were lean and muscled and flexed as they strained through the tough grains, and shaped and guided the tools through the paths in the wood they had drawn with an edged knife or piece of coal. These men worked throughout the day, tired but pushing themselves. A brief break was had for a meager piece of bread, and on a good day perhaps a salted piece of fish. They had to work, and hard. They had families to feed. They had a boat to build. Mortices and tenons were carved, the planks pushed together, places for the oars to be set, and a mast erected for a sail they sewed together from pieces of fabric.
Soon, it was ready. The boat about 27 feet long, almost 8 feet wide, with a flat bottom but a proud bow, was brought even closer now to the water’s edge, with a sense of accomplishment. Their old nets they repaired. New sections were weaved. Brothers patted each other on the back, and they thanked their friends from the other oats who helped out. It was late, and time to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be an early start for prayerfully a day with a bountiful catch. The life of poor fishermen, trying to survive and raise their families.
In another place, a carpenter taught his adopted son how to hold a saw, how to see the pattern in the wood, to select the best piece for the job, how to cut, shape, finish out, drive pegs and nails. A large piece of stock from a trunk had to be split after being felled with an ax. Its heart was exposed as the worked with wedges and a hammer, and then pull saws, straining and breathing hard from the intense labor of it all. Over time, the young son grew up, and waxed strong. The life of a poor carpenter, trying to survive and raise his family.
These men he called grew up unaware of Jesus when they grew up. Oh, they knew about the coming of the Messiah who would save the people from their sins. They had even begun to hear the amazing things being reported about this preacher named Yeshua (Jesus in English). But they were busy living life working hard, very hard, struggling, dealing with everyday life issues in a fallen world.
They lived their attempts at hopes and dreams, they had their sorrows as over time like everyone else they lost loved ones, suffered disappointments. They had their joys, their accomplishments. They had marriages, some, and children. They prayed and hoped. And yet beyond their even most powerful of imaginations, without their knowing it, the Lord they longed for and awaited, this person waling along the shore knew them before they were even born, saw them when they were children learning a skill and a trade, and this day walked the waters edge and called these men to follow him.
As the days went on and the wonders began to take place, and the message proclaimed, the signs and wonders, their lives were changed, turned upside down in a way. Everything stopped. People thing someone is crazy when such changes take place. You leave your job, drop everything, walk away and start following some man? What would the spouse say, the children? The neighbors? Bill collectors?
And you come to Jesus’ home town, this is how people treat him? “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Where did he get this wisdom and the miraculous power?” And they took offense at him. But you see that. IF you met Jesus, so to speak, in your life later on, there may have been a time he was put off in your life for a time until he knew you were prepared by him. You were then moved by God in ways others don’t understand, and ended up doing things for him out of a faith some call insane.
Yes, not everyone understands. But something hits you, something powerful takes place. I mean, you are minding your own business, and out of the blue, “Come, follow me.” A call takes place. The call of the Gospel, to be specific. For some of us as a tiny baby when the waters of Baptism are sprinkled over our head and the words are spoken, some of us when older and we hear the words about Jesus, and salvation, the promise spoken of the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, the call to believe.
Ever since you were different. You may not have known him at one point in time, yet he knew you as well before you were even born. The Lord had you in mind for this day, before he even formed you in the womb, just like the day he walked along the shore. Life is like that. We are living our lives, doing what we have to for survival, minding our own business. All of a sudden Jesus comes walking along our shore. Perhaps you remember the day. May be it is today? The Lord is like that. Full of surprises.
In the fullness of time, these men who didn’t know him at one time and then were called to follow him, one day saw him taken away. That day after the dawn, someone had prepared some large sections of wood from felled trees, it had been split and sawed into sections, one for a large post and another for a cross section. Some spikes were sitting near by, and a hammer.
The man that the fishermen had followed, and come to know and call Lord, the man who loved them as his own children, was taken by some other men and laid out on the wood. Those men took from the spikes laying near by, pressed the points of the metal against the flesh of Jesus’ hands, then raised the hammer, and they drove the hammer earthbound and aimed at the head of the spikes and drove them into each hand, through them, and into the wood beneath, and then the same to his feet.
Most of the men had fled. Their lives were changed again. The pain, the grief, the trauma, the shock! Their world was upside down again. They were shattered. Grown men grieved. So did the women who came to know him. They didn’t understand. Why?! But He, Jesus had told them this was going to happen. He also told them something else, that the third day he would rise from the dead.
They ran to the tomb. The body was gone, just as the women told them from their earlier encounter there and the words of the angel. Their lives were upside down once more. They arrived, John first, then Peter ran past him into the tomb. He saw and believed.
Powerful. The dead just don’t rise. But this was the Son of God. As Thomas later would say, my Lord and my God. This Jesus, and these things written about him, “are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
What is your story of Jesus in your life? Is today the first chapter? Which ever it is, he has known you all along. Today, he walks along your shore again. Amen.