Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sticks or Stones?

One of the reasons I love homeschooling is how much I learn right alongside my children.

This year, the older 2 boys are doing an in-depth study of the book of John.  In the teacher's guide, there was a morsel that just blew my mind!

When the Scriptures refer to Jesus as a "carpenter" (see Mark 6:2-3), the original Greek word is "tekton", which means, generally, builder/day-laborer.  In the region at that time, the primary building material was stone, not wood. Stone was used for the temple, for the houses, for many everyday objects.  Therefore, it is probable that Jesus was actually a stonemason and not what we think of when we hear the word "carpenter", someone who works with wood.

For those of you who were really bummed to discover that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, this theory may disturb you.

So let's go with this theory and explore some Biblical passages:

In the Old Testament, there are some instances where Jesus is called a stone or rock:

Isaiah 28:16 "Therefore thus says the Lord God, `Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.  He who believes in it will not be disturbed.'"

Psalm 118:22 "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone."

2 Samuel 22:47  "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation."

There is also the story of David and Goliath where "David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.  Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand."  (1 Sam. 17:49-50)

Numbers 20:8-11, where Moses strikes the rock after God told him to speak to the rock, is so reminiscent of the crucifixion - the soldier pierced Jesus' side and blood and water came flowing out.  In the Old Testament passage, "Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly.." (20:11)  

In the New Testament:

Acts. 4:11 is a reminder of the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22 in Jesus - "He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone."

1 Peter 2 is full of the metaphor:  "And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  (:4-5).  The following verses again quote the Old Testament references to Jesus as the corner stone.

1 Corinthians 10:4 directly tells us that the Old Testament instance of water from the rock was a symbol of Jesus - "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ."

Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter (a word closely resembling "rock", or "petra"), and upon this rock (Jesus now refers to Himself as Rock! A fulfillment of prophecy!) I will build My church ("For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:11); and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."  It may be that here Jesus is giving Peter hope, that Peter, although rough and ragged and not useful for much, will be formed and cut by the master Stonemason, Jesus, to emerge as the true Peter, the person God intended him to be all along!  Be careful to read the first part of the verse in regards to Peter and the second part of the verse in regards to Christ (Biblical backing provided).

Finally, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus' body was placed inside a stone tomb.  The "Stone", Jesus, bursts forth after 3 days, fully glorified, having completed His work, just as an object cut from stone would be fully completed after the stonemason laid aside his tools.  It is a beautiful picture of the Ultimate Stonemason, Himself having become a stone, the Stone, to show us how much He desires that we submit to His craftsmanship.

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

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