And it came to pass, [that] when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 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? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things? 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. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.Matt. 13:53-58
Wisdom of Jesus
In this Bible study titled, is not this the carpenter’s son, something stands out right away. During his earthly life, Jesus was considered by many as a common man, a tradesperson, a carpenter; yet here he is teaching the wisdom of God inside the synagogue. It was not as though he was well educated in the ancient Mosaic Law or held a position of title and stature within the Jewish religion. He was neither a scribe nor a Pharisee, in fact he condemned both parties and their self-imposed traditions, all the while teaching the multitudes about the kingdom of God.
There was little wonder why the people were astonished and questioned where he obtained this wisdom. The problem was they placed him in the context by which they knew him, “the carpenter’s son”, “his mother Mary”, “his brethren and his sisters”. To think from an outsider’s perspective, he was only one among no less than six other half-siblings. The people knew full well who he was, at least in terms of his family members and trade profession. The context of being a common person however created this puzzling dilemma against the backdrop of seeing Jesus preach and teach with wisdom and knowledge. As a result of this, the events from the scriptures continued by noting how the people were offended by him (Matt. 13:57).).
Praise for Jesus
But not all people viewed him with this same contempt. The scriptures describe many other encounters with Jesus. Notably, one of the Pharisees named Nicodemus accurately described Jesus when he said, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” [John 3:2] Or consider Nathaniel’s reaction after Jesus started telling him that he saw him before even meeting him, “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” [John 1:49] Or consider also Thomas’s reaction when he realized just who was standing before him, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” [John 20:28]
The reactions and comments expressed by just three people from scripture stands in such stark contrast to the reactions noted in this week’s scripture reading. There is more to this story however as the passage continues in noting the reason people took offense to Jesus and that was because of their unbelief. How often does this become a typical reaction when believers try to share the gospel of grace with unbelievers? People are offended at the message because of their unbelief. The apostle Peter described this offense of the gospel in his letter, “…And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word.” [1 Pet. 2:8a]
Note though the similar references from another witness, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” [Mark 6:3] Here, Mark confirms the same events taking place but note how he adds that Jesus was indeed a carpenter, much like Joseph. The apostle John also notes a similar event, “And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? ” [John 6:42] In this scene, more profound statements from Jesus were noted with his claim of coming down from heaven to do the will of the Father (John 6:38).
The Real Jesus
Now, if this Bible study were to stop here by simply observing the family setting in which Jesus grew up or if it simply highlighted that he taught with wisdom from the Father, then the entire gospel message is lost. Jesus was indeed living the life of an ordinary man but there is far more to the scriptures than these observations. The apostle Paul helped to articulate this in one of his letters to the Philippians church, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” [Phil. 2:5-8]
Now we see Jesus in a much greater context. Not only from his earthly life but “being in the form of God , thought it not robbery to be equal with God”. Jesus can therefore not simply be described in the context of being the carpenter’s son. Rather, he was no mere man that walked the earth nor will there ever be one like him. He was God manifest in the flesh as Paul aptly declared this, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [1 Tim. 3:16] Here was the Lord of all creation coming down from heaven, born of a woman, made in the likeness of men, a man called Jesus, a carpenter.
For those who are still not sure what this means consider how the apostle John wrote this declaration, “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist.” [1 John 4:2-3] This statement underscores the importance for early believers in the church to believe in and adhere to sound doctrine, lest they should be deemed as having the spirit of the antichrist! That doctrine is that Jesus, the Lord of glory, was manifest in the flesh, in physical human form.
God Manifest in the Flesh
Let us draw this Bible study to a close titled is not this the carpenter’s son? Evidence abounds in the gospel accounts that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters from Mary and Joseph. Further to this, both Jesus and Joseph were carpenters by trade. But seekers of faith cannot stop with this limited knowledge or that Jesus just by chance had a gift for teaching and preaching. No, that was only part of who Jesus was.
Jesus was and is very God himself standing before the people. He was also standing before the religious rulers who were determined to slay him (John 5:16, 18). What is your reaction? Will you merely acknowledge him as an interesting person in history who offered us some profound teaching? Will you shrug him off as just another teacher of religion? Or will you see him for who he truly is, God manifest in the flesh, the great I am of the scriptures who offered himself as the only sacrifice for your sins upon the cross? Why not come to him now; believe in him and learn how to find rest in Jesus today!
Bible Study Questions
- While Jesus lived his life on earth at one time, according to the scriptures, he was a carpenter, true or false?
- Scripture tells us that Jesus had __________________ half siblings as parented by Mary and Joseph?
- In this week’ scripture reading, the people were offended by Jesus because of their belief or unbelief? Choose the right answer.
- Can you name three people from this study who acknowledged who Jesus really was based on scripture?
- In 1 Tim. 3:16, what does it mean when it describes Jesus as God manifest in the flesh?
- Why did John stress the importance of confessing that Jesus was come in the flesh?
- If you know someone who is offended by Jesus or Christianity, will you share this Bible study titled is this not the carpenter’s son with them?