JESUS -- THE WORKING MAN
Peter the Great, Czar of all Russia, and in some respects the
mightiest monarch of his day, used to make shoes like a common
cobbler, that he might enter into sympathy with his people and help
them to realize that labour is not menial, but honorable and full of
dignity. It was a great stoop from the throne of Russia to a
cobbler's bench, but I will tell you of a greater.
We are told that God made the worlds by His Son, and that the Son
upholds 'all things by the word of His power' (Heb. i. 2-3).
John tells us that 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him; and
without Him was not anything made that was made' (John i. 1, 3). He
is the Master Workman whom the Heaven of heavens cannot contain,
inhabiting eternity (Isa. lvii. 15), stretching forth the heavens as
a curtain, making mighty systems of sun, moon and stars, creating
worlds and hurling them into the awful abysses of space and causing
them to move, not in chaotic confusion, but in more than clock-like
harmony, by the silent, resistless energy of all-embracing laws.
He scoops out the bed of mighty oceans, He tosses aloft hoary
mountains and stretches forth vast prairies and sandy deserts. He
peoples the worlds with living creatures, until the imagination is
almost paralyzed by the contemplation of the wonders of His
handiwork. He is Maker of the infinitely great and the infinitely
small. He made the fixed star billions of miles away and millions of
times bigger than the earth on which we live, and He made the tiny
insect so small that it can be seen only by the aid of the
microscope, and He fitted that little mite with its perfect organs
of digestion, respiration and reproduction.
He garnished the heavens and stretches forth the rainbow, and He
painted the insect's wings and polished the lens of its little eye.
Oh, He is a wondrous Workman!
But John tells us 'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and
we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth' (John i. 14). And another writer:
'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He
also Himself likewise took part of the same; . . . For verily He
took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of
Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto
His brethren . . . ' (Heb. ii. 14, 16, 17).
And when He clothed Himself with our flesh, when He hid His dignity
under the humble garb of our humanity, He did not come as an
aristocrat, but He took a lowly place in a peasant's home.
He alone of all the children of men chose His mother, and He chose
one who was poor and humble and unknown amongst men. In His mighty
descent from the bosom of the Father to the womb of the Virgin, He
might have stopped at the throne of some mighty earthly empire, or
among the rich and lordly; but instead of that He went down past
thrones and palaces, and was born in a stable in a manger among the
cattle, that He might not be other than the lowliest of His
brethren. He came to a life of obscurity, of poverty and of toil,
and He who made the worlds and upheld them by the word of His power,
learned to be a carpenter.
The artists, when they paint a picture of Jesus, paint a face of
almost womanly softness, and would picture Him to us as a delicate
man, with hair parted in the middle and with patrician hands and
tapering fingers; but the Bible rather pictures Him to us a
horny-handed man of toil, whose back was bent to labour, and who
earned His bread by the sweat of his brow. Bless Him! Indeed, 'He
was made like unto His brethren.' He became brother to the humblest
son of toil, and since He has been a working man, He has put a
dignity on labour that exceeds the dignity of kings and queens.
Jesus was a working man, and as such understands working men. He
knows their weakness, He has been pinched with their poverty, He can
sympathize with them in their long hours of toil that bars them from
that culture of mind which, no doubt, many crave. He understands.
But while He suffered and toiled and was tempted and tried as His
brethren, and was debarred from the luxuries of wealth and the
culture of schools, yet He was not debarred from culture of the
heart and fellowship with His Father. He could be pure, He could be
holy, He could be loving and patient and kind and true, and He did
this, dying for us to escape from our sins and become men after the
pattern of Himself
We may not be great, but we may be good. We may not be able to erect
a Brooklyn bridge or build a St. Peter's, at Rome, but we can do our
little task well and in the spirit of Jesus. We can be kind and
patient, and faithful and true. We can become partakers of His
Spirit, and do our work as unto Him, and by-and-by we shall enter
into His glory, and we shall not be rewarded for the greatness of
the work we have done, but rather for the faithfulness with which we
have done it. The carpenter who has built houses; the blacksmith who
has shod horses; the man who has carried a hod; the boy who has
blacked boots; the clerk who has toiled over the ledger; the farmer
who has plowed the fields and fed cattle: if he has done it
faithfully, with his heart washed in the Blood and full of love for
the Master and his fellow men, in the spirit of prayer and
thanksgiving, will have as abundant an entrance into the everlasting
Kingdom of Jesus the Carpenter, and will have a place as near the
Throne as the man who preached the Gospel to thousands of governed
states and ruled kingdoms.