Sawdust, Shepherds and a Savior

Nazareth_Village_carpenters_shop,_tb052704060He traced his fingers over the rough-hewn wood, gazing intently at the orderly array of tools. The miter, the saw, the hammer, the plane.

This little carpenter shop was somehow different now.

Last night Joseph received a visit while he slept. Today he understood that the baby which he had not sired was a gift from heaven. Not his own, but his responsibility.

Standing next to that workbench, he envisioned the little tyke puttering alongside him every day learning the tricks of the trade. His very own apprentice.

God would be a carpenter.

Pic Bethlehem shepherd CLThey didn’t talk much that morning. Instead, they just listened to the bleating of the sheep and reflected.

Last night the heavens had exploded with light, angels had sung in grand chorus and a world-shaking message dumped in their lap.

Then, in a stable that was as familiar to them as their own skin, everything had changed. A manger, some old cloth, a frightened couple and a baby had forever altered what the sheep pen would mean to them.

Now back on the Bethlehem hillside–back at work–they knew something cosmic had shifted. Everything was different. God was a baby.

Jesus had shown up at work.

What would it be like if Jesus just showed up at your job site? Walked in and asked to join you in what you do.

Eternity invading vocation. It’s happened before.

At His birth Jesus invade the work place of…

  • A priest–changing a cleric’s religious ritual into a silent spiritual journey.
  • A carpenter–transforming a carpenter shop into divine proving grounds.
  • A housewife–recasting an old mother’s infant into a world shaking prophet.
  • Shepherds–shifting their preoccupation from wool to worship.
  • Professors–morphing Magi star-gazing into Son chasing.
  • A king–disrupting the rule of a despot with the news of a deliverer.

None of these people would ever go back to life as it had been. They would never see or do their jobs the same again.

Jesus had infused the normal with the extraordinary, the routine with the surprising, the daily with the eternal, the ceaseless grind with celestial glory.

The everyday was forever infected with the eternal. Never again could a day’s work be a drudgery–because you never knew when God might just show up by surprise.

The stuff that had seemed mundane now had meaning because the presence of Jesus saturated the rub and raw of normal living.

Bethlehem proved that God can get in the middle of whatever we do and make it more than we could ever dream.

The Fishers of Men Ministries-Watch Live Christian TVLater in life Jesus wrapped words around this intimate connection with the workaday world of some frustrated anglers.

“Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” (Matthew 4:19, MSG)

A big chunk of our lives is spent on vocation–what we do for a living. It seems odd that we would imagine Jesus as either uninterested or uninvolved in that slice of life.

Part of “the kingdoms of this world” becoming “the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15) is allowing the King to reign over the realm of our work.

He wants to imbue our daily tasks with divine import. He desires that we be carriers of His presence–incarnational beings–through the work of our hands.

Lawyer or laborer. Pilot or policeman. Surgeon or soldier. Governor or garbage collector. Fireman or farmer. Engineer or esthetician. Therapist or trucker. Mathematician or machinist.

It matters not the setting or assignment. Jesus shows up in the most expected places.

What matters is the realization that like the carpenter and the shepherds, Jesus wants to work where we do.

That is why the great Apostle years later wrote to Jesus-followers living in Colossee:

  • “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (3:17)
  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (3:23)

Even sawdust and shepherds can carry the spirit of a Savior.

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