In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3, and Luke 2:41-52
Today we round the corner from the prophetic word spoken about Jesus’ arrival to earth, his subsequent miraculous birth, and enter his childhood story. But, frankly, there isn’t much that the biblical text offers us about his youth, beyond a few known facts. We know that he was raised in Nazareth, a very humble community. He had brothers and sisters, and the Bible provides us the names of his brothers, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.
We also know that when he was twelve he tipped his hand about his unusual wisdom when with his family at the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem he stayed behind in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. It took his parents three days to find him (the original “home alone” but in this case home in the temple!). When Joseph and Mary finally found him, his mother asked him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?” Jesus answered them, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” His mother treasured these things in her heart.
Jesus was always about his father’s business. As a child one can surmise that he joined his father and brothers in Joseph’s carpentry business. Joseph undoubtedly would have taught his sons the trade, including Jesus. We don’t know for certain what that trade was, but some claim they made wooden plows. We are left to our imagination about how Jesus was in the carpentry shop. Most likely he was a good learner, a diligent worker, a faithful team player. Can you give yourself permission to imagine Jesus in the carpenter’s household, among his siblings, working, resting, completing jobs, enjoying meals, and delighting in conversation with those he lived, loved and served?
When as a twelve year old, he was also about his Father’s business. His heavenly Father sent him to earth to live among the leaders of the time and to share all that he knew to be true with all who would eventually follow him. Those who heard him interact with the teachers in the temple courts were amazed at his understanding and answers. When his parents finally found him they were astonished.
In both the carpenter’s shop and the temple courts, Jesus lived comfortably in the marketplace of wood carving and truthful ideas. He was a listener, a learner, and a dispenser of truth every place he traveled. His outstretched arms of love began to emerge early on. His arms of love would continue to be held wide open to all who would receive his message. On the job, no matter the setting, he remained faithful.
Behold him in the marketplace as the carpenter’s son and the dispenser of truth. Believe once more the incarnational story of Jesus living in a human family, with earthly parents and siblings. Belong to the incredible storyline which invites a deeper trust. Become a sincerely devoted recipient of truth today.