The Good News - Home

The Carpenter's Son

by David A. DePra

And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their

synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, "From

where has 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 to 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. 13:54-58)

     Is this not the carpenter's son? A good question. But actually, it

is THE question. Was Jesus Christ merely the son of Joseph, the

carpenter from Nazareth? Is that ALL He was? Or was Jesus more?

How I ultimately and finally answer that question is going to

determine everything for me.

     To gain a proper background and perspective of these events

at Nazareth, we must go back 30 years to the time of the birth of

Jesus. From the time of His birth, until He began His ministry at 30

years of age, the scriptures are almost silent about His life. Clearly.

the gospels are not intended to be a biography of Jesus. The

intent in them is to relate the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and

ascension of Jesus -- that we might believe and be saved. The

gospels are also a sort of history of the kingdom of God, picked up

from where the Old Testament left off, 400 years earlier.

     Where revelation ends about these "missing" years, it is unwise

to speculate. But maybe there is more revealed about them than

we might think. Let's take a look.

     First, there are some general statements made by the authors

of the gospels, referring to the life of Jesus before He began His

public ministry. The first is by Luke, and it occurs after God called

the holy family back from Egypt, once Herod had died:

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom:

and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40)

     Not much specific here, but it does tell us that "the grace of God

was with Him." God Himself was looking after Jesus. Futhermore,

how many children do you know who have "waxed strong in spirit,"

and are "filled with wisdom?" Not many. When Jesus was a child,

He WAS a child. This wasn't pretend. But He was a sinless,

perfect child. And this description of Him is a marvelous picture of

that fact.

     After this general statement, we must jump ahead about ten years

to when Jesus was about twelve years old. Then we find the only

recorded event in the life of Christ, between His return from Egypt

and the beginning of His ministry. It is the account of the time when

He lingered behind in Jerusalem and remained in the temple. We

find that at twelve years of age, Jesus most likely began to realize

who He was, and why He had been born. The statement, "I must be

about My Father's business," (Lk. 2:49) clearly shows He already

had developed a consciousness of it.

     Now note: Jesus had stayed behind in the temple. He had felt

compelled to do so. To the point of causing worry for his parents.

This had to mean there was a tremendous hunger and drawing

upon Him towards the things of God -- to wanting to bring the Truth

to people. Even then -- at twelve years of age.

     There had to be a reason why God gives us this single insert

into those otherwise unrecorded 30 years. Surely one reason is

that He wants to show us that even His own Son, despite desiring

greatly to teach, preach, and help others, had to wait. It was not

yet time. He still had much growing and developing to do.

     One gets a strange sense of separation here, in this passage

from Luke. (see Luke 2:41-52) What separation? The separation

of Jesus from His parents. True, He did return to them and once

again became subject to them. But just as He had separated

Himself from them physically, by remaining behind in Jerusalem,

it is as if this event signals another kind of separation -- not a bad

one, mind you, but a good one. Jesus would always love and

honor His earthly parents. But it is from this point that His path

would be directed by God, and not as much by them. God was now

His father, and while public ministry would wait, from this point Jesus

would be about the business of His heavenly Father.

     For the time being, God's business would take Him back to

Nazareth, to live with His earthy parents. Joseph would die, but

Jesus would remain there. For the next 18 years, "God's business"

would be to live as a carpenter. To be a son. To be a brother. To

keep quiet and allow God to teach Him, and cause Him to grow.

Ministry and Gifts

     The life of Jesus tells us much about how God develops those

whom He intends to use. For instance, if Jesus, the Son of God, had

to wait and be quiet for 30 years before He was ready to teach

others, who are we?

     We need to understand a few things about ministry. First, God

isn't primarily concerned about what we do for Him. He is not. He

can raise up sticks and stones to do what He wants done. What

God wants is this: US. Our hearts. Thus, what is important is that

we do God's will, yes, but more so that we BECOME God's will. And

this can be accomplished in what we term "ministry" or it can be

accomplished as a carpenter.

     I can BECOME the will of God by being an accountant, or by

being a home maker. I BECOME His will by surrendering into His

hands. The circumstances, calling, and life pattern God uses for

this process varies with each individual, ministry being one option.

     Thus, ALL who are IN CHRIST are called to BECOME His will. I

lose nothing of Christ if I don't happen to be called as a minister.

In this day and age, we still think that ministers and preachers

have a "hot line" to God -- that the rest of the people do not have.

They do NOT. If they really are called of God, they may have a

gift. But the gift is more a responsibility than it is a "claim to fame."

It is what God has for them in His desire to both use them, and to

personally conform them to Christ.

     We often confuse Biblical and theological knowledge for the true

knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. We think if we go to a seminary

for four years, or six, or eight, that we are ready to be a man or a

woman of God. Such thinking is foreign to the New Testament.

Study and learning is good as a tool. But unless someone is

rooted and grounded in a personal faith in Christ -- and has been

tested in faith -- the best they will do is pass on facts and book

knowledge to others.

     Read the Bible. NO WHERE are the gifts of the Holy Spirit

said to have a relationship to education. NO WHERE are the gifts

of the Holy Spirit given to only a few, elite people. No. God gives

the gifts to ALL -- as it pleases Him.

     The New Testament pattern for ministry wrought of the Holy

Spirit is that it is the "natural" outcome of walking with Jesus Christ.

You don't go to seminary or school to learn it. In fact, you CAN'T

learn "gifts of the Holy Spirit" there -- such as pastor or teacher. You

CANNOT. And anyone who thinks they can is deceived. They do

not understand what those gifts really are, or what it means to be

given them by God.

     There is only one way to have any gift of the Holy Spirit: God

gives it. You can't "learn it," or "study yourself into it." It is a free

unsolicited gift of God. But once God gives it, He may require that

you abide UNDER it, and be made adjusted to it. And there is

only one way to do this: Carry your Cross.

     This does not mean we should shun education. No we are to

study to SHOW ourselves approved. But not to GET ourselves

approved! We need to realize that education is NOT faith,

righteousness, or a spiritual gift.

     The problem with those in the ministry today is primarily two-fold.

The first is that many don't really know Jesus Christ. They know

only how to "act" like a minister! The second problem is nothing

more complicated than plain old-fashioned arrogance. They think,

that due to their "calling," that they are special in God's eyes,

indeed, if not better than others.

     Not all ministers are like this. Some have seen that they are to

be bondslaves for Christ to the betterment of those they teach. But

the church is in the shape it is in today, and embraces the heresy

and sin it embraces, for reasons. And at the top of the list of

reasons is bad leadership. Leadership is accountable to God for

keeping their personal lives in Christ -- and for what they let into

the churches. (see Heb. 13:17) They have, generally, failed. Why?

Not because they don't know how to practice leadership skills.

They have failed because they are not leading the way to Calvary.

They want to take a detour around it, and many are following them.

Hidden Years

     God ordained that Jesus do nothing in the way of ministry until

He was 30 years old. We can be sure of this because if He had

done anything prior, the crowds would not have been astounded

that "the carpenter's son" was now preaching and teaching. You

don't say, "Where did this man get all of this teaching?" if that man

has BEEN teaching. No. Jesus had apparently not been teaching.

That is why the crowds -- indeed, His own family -- reacted the way

they did when He began to teach.

     Jesus clearly had a heart which cried out to minister. He was

beginning to sense a great need in God's people. At twelve years

of age, it was not yet time. So after this one time in the temple, He

had to return to Nazareth. THAT would be where "His Father's

business" would be for now: At home. As the carpenter's son. It

would be another 18 years before Jesus would launch into His real


     One has to wonder if any of those who were there that day in the

temple with the twelve year old Jesus were present when He began

His ministry 18 years later. Did they remember Him? We don't

know. Luke simply sums up the next 18 years in one passage:

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was

subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God

and man. (Luke 2:51-52)

     Jesus, the Son of God, left behind His ministry for the next 18

years, and got on with life. But this time was hardly wasted. He

"increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

For now, "His Father's business" would be IN HIM. He was being

prepared as the Lamb of God without blemish, who would take

away the sin of the world.


     The next events revealed about the life of Jesus are His baptism

by John, and the temptation in the wilderness. Again, all preparatory

unto His ministry. And again -- events that hold much meaning for


     Imagine what must have gone through the mind of Jesus in the

days proceeding these events. He had waited so long. Then, one

day, He was working in the carpentry shop -- and it finally hit Him: It

was time. We can imagine Jesus taking off His apron, cleaning up

the shop, and knowing that He would never come back. His course

was set. NOW was the time.

     As He walked down to the river Jordan, where John was

baptizing, He was surely aware of what laid before Him. Not all the

details, mind you, but the reason for which He had come to earth.

As He approached the river, John announced Him. He proclaimed:

"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes way the sin of the world." (Jn.


     This was a prophetic utterance, and right to the point. Lambs

were put to death. The passover lamb was slain for sin. And this

was THE introduction given of Jesus to the world.

     As Jesus entered the water, it is noteworthy that John admits that

"I knew Him not." In other words, John had not been entirely sure

that Jesus was the One for whom He was preparing the way. He

perhaps suspected it. But he was not sure. (see Jn. 1:30)

     John had evidently not spent much time with Jesus to this point.

He knew OF Him -- they were cousins. But Luke says that John

was "in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel." (Luke

1:80) We know that Jesus was NOT. So there was probably little

interaction between them to this point.

     John even had doubts some time later when he was cast into

prison by Herod. He sent messengers to Jesus asking, "Are You

He that is to come, or should we look for another?" Thus, here we

see John the Baptist, prophet of God, righteous above all born of

women -- he who announced Jesus as the Lamb of God, he who

said that he "bare record that this is the Son of God," he who had

sent his disciples away from himself to Jesus -- here we see that

he had doubts. Why did he?

     John was human. His doubts were not to his blame. He just

wanted to be sure. He had been put into prison and was going to

die. Not likely what he expected as the outcome -- indeed as the

reward -- for his ministry. Who, having come to this end, would not

wonder and doubt?: "Did I read this thing right? Did I miss the boat?

If I did the will of God, how could it turn out like this?"

     Being thrust into prison and awaiting execution was certainly NOT

what John had thought would be the outcome of his ministry. That is

why Jesus had to assure him, and answer, "Blessed is he that is not

offended in Me." (Matt. 11:3)

     Note what God expected of John: To do His will. To have to

face all manner of doubts. And then to die. Not what we would

think is fair. But it was a trail John faced and passed. It was what

John needed in order to BECOME the will of God.

     Do you think that because you have served God, that in this life

you are entitled to anything special? Look where John ended up!

The real truth is, that if you serve God, and surrender to Him, in this

life you are promised ONE and ONLY ONE thing. Do you know

what that is? You are promised HIS WILL.

     Get that: God promises HIS WILL. For John, that meant an

early promotion to the eternal ages. Not something easy to take at

the time. In fact, it was such a terribly unfair thing -- according to

human thinking and justice -- that Jesus had to encourage John not

to get mad or resentful towards Him because of it. This was God's

will for John. It was what had to be allowed. And it was best.

     There are other lessons here too. One would think that Jesus

would have simply walked up to John and said, "I'm the Son of God.

I'm the One. Now that we've got that settled, I also want you to know

what is going to happen to you. You will be a martyr."

     Nonsense. This is NEVER God's pattern. Rarely do we find

Jesus going around announcing to people who He really was. No.

Rather, He waits until God reveals it to people. Then, He may

invoke a confession from them, just as He did from Peter, late in

His ministry. (see Matt. 16:13-16)

     So we see that the realization of who Jesus is comes only by

revelation -- even to John Himself. John had to go through all of

these things before it was a settled issue with Him.

     Another lesson we learn is the futility of signs and wonders. God

often gives these things, and did so with great drama to John, at the

baptism of Jesus. I mean what more could you ask for? When

Jesus came up out of the water at His baptism, His Father said,

"You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:22)

The Holy Spirit abode upon Jesus like a dove. Yet John still had


     Why? Because signs and wonders are OUTWARD things. They

cannot change us in the INWARD. It is there, in the inward, that the

revelation really takes place, and where our faith unites with God.

Thus, many times signs and wonders are given for us to look back

upon. God gives them so that we can turn back and say, "Yes, that

WAS God. He was with me back then, even at that point, unto

THIS end."

     Of course, the Father's pronouncement upon Jesus was a

complete stamp of approval upon Him up to that point. Thirty years

we know little about in detail, but which was spent IN the will of God.

Jesus had BECOME what God wanted Him to BECOME. It was now

time for His ministry.

     We place so much emphasis upon the three and one-half years

of Jesus' ministry, and with good reason. It is that which the gospels

record. But those 30 years leading up to His ministry were the years

that developed Jesus and prepared Him. One only wonders what

those years were like; what trials and experiences they held.

The Temptation

     The temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness is the segway

between His preparation for the ministry, and the ministry itself. As

noted, God had pronounced His approval upon Jesus at His

baptism. Immediately, the Holy Spirit took Him into the wilderness

to be tempted of the Devil. (Matt. 4:1)

     Have you ever had an experience with the Lord which was so

wonderful that you just wished you could linger in it forever? Expect

to come down, big time. The Biblical example is always that when

God gives an encouragement, or a word, He quickly takes us into

a valley. It is in that valley that God makes us fit for the revelation.

It is there that we BECOME. He gave us His word or revelation so

that we might have hope and faith and something to wrap ourselves

in. The revelation is often a glimpse of the END of the journey -- but

it is a journey which we have yet to begin. And it is a journey which

often takes us through a valley -- before we can reach the place we

saw in our wonderful experience with God.

     Jesus had every part of Himself tempted in the wilderness. God

had said, "This is My beloved Son.....," and now it was going to be

tested. This is a subject for another discussion. But when the Devil

was finished, Jesus had overcome him on all fronts. This HAD to

happen BEFORE Jesus began His ministry -- even though He was

continually beset with temptations during His ministry.

     Again we see that God is concerned with what we BECOME. Not

with what we know, how charismatic we are, or what our education is.

Unless we get this straight we will never, as a body, be able to

function in God's will. We will instead find ourselves focusing on

one thing, all the while God is doing another.

Came to Nazareth

     We are now ready to join Jesus, as He walks into Nazareth,

after being tempted in the wilderness. Jesus had been "led" into

the wilderness to be tempted. He now returned "in the power of

the Spirit" to Galilee. This change was the result of having been

tempted and come through to God's glory. (see Luke 4:14)

     Jesus apparently made a few stops on the way back to

Nazareth -- most notably His miracle at the marriage at the town

of Canaan. Luke says, "There went out a fame of Him through out

the region round about." (Luke 4:14) He taught in synagogues,

and then finally made His way back to where He had grown up.

It was the Sabbath day, and the synagogue was undoubtedly filled

with people.

     This was not the first time Jesus entered this synagogue in

Nazareth. Luke records, "As His custom was, He went into the

synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read." (Luke 4:16)

We can assume from Luke 4:14 that surely some word of Jesus

had preceded Him back to Nazareth. Thus, when Jesus walked

into the synagogue, many would have stared at Him and wondered.

What was going on with Jesus of Nazareth? Teaching in the

synagogues? Doing miracles? They surely found that hard to

believe. When He stood to read, it is therefore no wonder that Luke

says, "The eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were

fastened upon Him." (Luke 4:20)

     In those days, the men who were of age would take turns reading

the Old Testament, and then commenting on it. Jesus had likely

done this any number of times before. But this time was going to be

different. Much different.

     There was likely a tension in the air. An atmosphere of expecting

something, but of uncertainty of exactly what. They had heard many

strange things about Jesus. What they heard did not jive with the

Jesus they had known; with this "carpenter's son" who had grown

up in their midst. What would happen today?

     Jesus read from Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to

preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the

brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and

recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)

     As Jesus closed the book, and all eyes were fastened upon Him,

about the last thing anyone expected Him to say was what He said

next. They had been astonished at the "gracious words" which had

proceeded out of His mouth. But then He said, "TODAY this

scripture is fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:20)

     Today? The only way this scripture could be fulfilled was by the

Messiah! Jesus' suggestion was clear: He was the Messiah. And

today His preaching was a fulfillment of this passage from Isaiah.

Jesus' claim to be the Messiah was NOT accepted. It was not

accepted because, well, they had preconceived ideas about how

the Messiah would come. And Jesus did not fit them. The

carpenter's son? He is the Messiah? No way!

     We see the same reaction the second time Jesus came to

preach in Nazareth, as recorded in Matthew 13. There we are given

even more details, probably similar to the reaction here, in Luke

4. Again, those who had before known Jesus said, "Where did this

man get all of these mighty works? All this wisdom? Isn't this Jesus,

the carpenter's son? We know His family! He can't be the Messiah.

Who does He think He is to make these claims?" (see Matt. 13:


     It would seem impossible that these people would have had this

reaction if Jesus had been someone who was going around

preaching and teaching. But no. Up to this point, Jesus had been,

to them, exactly what they had said: The carpenter's son. Nothing

more and nothing less. That's how they knew Him. The Jesus who

arrived in Nazareth that day was a complete departure from what

they could have expected.

The "Missing Years"

     This tells us much about the "missing years" of Jesus Christ. He

had spent them in obscurity. He had not called attention to Himself.

He had simply been "the carpenter's son," indeed, a carpenter

Himself. There had been NOTHING of a ministry.

     This takes on special significance once we realize that it was

upon such a life that God pronounced His approval at the baptism.

It was a hidden life -- a life which had things going on in it which no

one could imagine.

     It is in the normal, everyday life, that we grow with God. Not just

when there is some big trial going on. The fact is, if we cannot walk

with God on land, we won't be able to walk with Him on water. And

most of life is spent walking on land. The drudgery and boredom.

It is there that we must also glorify God, believe Him and trust Him.

     Of course, those who walk with Christ have a secret: It only looks

like there is nothing going on that is special. It only looks as if they

are not always in some kind of trial. But the fact is, if you are

walking with Christ, you are always in some kind of inward trial or

struggle. Always. You are always at war and always dealing with

something you would not deal with as a non-Christian. There is

much suffering going on in people who know Christ -- which is not

evident by those on the outside. But it is going on nevertheless.

     Paul said that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit

against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so

that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Gal. 5:17) He also

spoke of much spiritual warfare in the life of the believer. The point

is, inward struggle isn't a sign that something is wrong. It is a sign

that everything is right -- if you are standing by faith. The greatest

worry of all is if you never have any warfare. This would mean you

either the flesh is missing or the Spirit is missing. And clearly, no

one lacks a healthy supply of flesh.

     Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, lived such a normal and

relatively uneventful life -- at least as far as anyone knew -- that it

was utterly abnormal for the Jesus they knew to now stand up and

make such claims about Himself. Yet during those hidden, silent

years -- years of inward choosing, suffering, and warfare, Jesus was

being prepared for this time. The time was NOW.

     Think about it. Only ONCE has God ever become flesh. Only

ONCE. And then, in all of human history of thousands of years, He

spent only 33 or 34 years as a human. But more, He spent only

3 and one-half years revealing Himself to us; preaching as a human

being. You and I might wish God had given Him, say, 20 years. But

no. Barely three and one-half years. And that was enough to

change the world forever. Why? Because it had 30 years of

preparation behind it. Hidden and obscure years. But years in

which eternal issues were being sorted out and settled. The Lamb

of God had to be prepared.


     Those in Nazareth that day were apparently egging on Jesus to

work a miracle or two, to prove Himself. (see Luke 4:23-27) But He

would not. Instead, He upbraided them for not recognizing Him as

being from God. He said, "A prophet is not without honor, except

in His own country." And He angered them further by telling them

that many non-Jews had a better track-record of honoring the

prophets of God than did God's own people.

     Now note: Jesus blamed them for not recognizing Him as being

of God. For rejecting Him as Messiah. Why? As we said, Jesus

had apparently done little or no preaching. Why are they to be


     When you remember that Jesus was sinless, and had grown up

with them, and was now speaking absolute Truth to them, you can

understand that they were to be blamed. Had any of them ever

seen Him do anything wrong? In word or deed? Had His life been

NO witness to them at all? Weren't they listening to what He was

teaching, and inquiring further about it?

     They were not. What they were doing was getting hung up on the

fact He was "the carpenter's son," and not hearing what He had to

say to them.

     There may have been other factors involved here, that perhaps

fed the ease with which they resented Jesus. For instance, it is

hard to imagine that over the years it had been easy for Jesus to

make many close, intimate friends. After all, it says that even after

He began His ministry, "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them,

because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify

of man: for he knew what was in man." (Jn. 3:23-25) This would

have also been true BEFORE Jesus began His ministry.

     Remember, Jesus was the Son of God; a totally sinless man.

His mind and heart would not have been on the things that

occupied other people. But don't misunderstand. This isn't to say

that Jesus didn't want to have friends or be close to people. No.

Rather, people could not get close to HIM. At some point, there

would be a parting of ways. And Jesus could not explain Himself.

What this likely created was a situation in which Jesus may have

appeared aloof. Add to this the fact that Jesus was sinless. He

would not do some of the things people do; laugh at the things

people laugh at. This usually leads to resentment by others. They

think you think you are too good for them.

     Even today if you choose to obey God, you will be a conviction

to other people, and they will hate you for it. People hate those who

will not help validate their bad deeds by participating. They say

you think you are better than they are. And they try to look for

anything they can to use against you. All of this seems to fit right

into the gospel account. It may well be the attitude many of these

people had towards Jesus. It would account for the ease with

which they turned on Him, and even wanted to stone Him.

     The carpenter's son was to be tolerated, as long as He minded

His own business. But now He was telling THEM how to live. And

He was making claims about Himself. This was not acceptable to


     Had Jesus come out of nowhere, He still would have been

rejected because of His message of universal salvation to both

Jews and Gentiles. But this? The carpenter's son? It is more than

they were willing to take.

"He is Beside Himself"

     The crowds aside, even the very family of Jesus did not believe

in Him. (see John 7:5) It says this, despite the fact that His brethren

were aware of the fact that He had worked miracles. In fact, they

were actually encouraging Him to promote Himself, by going up to

the feast with great fanfare. Thus, we can only surmise that when

John writes that His own brethren did not believe in Him, that he

means that they did not recognize who He was. They only knew

He now had some "special power," and wanted Him to show it to


     Again we see a theme emerging. The people in the synagogue,

and now the brethren of Jesus, were totally ignoring the Truth He

spoke. They were looking at Him and listening to Him, but not

seeing and not hearing. They were blinded by their acquaintance

with Him as a man, but more so, by a Jewish tradition which did not

expect a Messiah of the likes of Jesus.

     The Jews expected a Messiah who would verify and fulfill their

traditions. Jesus came smashing them. They expected a Messiah

who personified Israel. Jesus personified God. They expected

deliverance for Israel. Jesus came to deliver ALL from sin. They

wanted a King. Jesus came as a Lamb.

     What makes the fact that Jesus' own family did not believe in Him

strange was that they had lived with Him all their lives. Had they not

seen anything of God in Him? And hadn't Mary told them about

His birth? We don't know. But all the Bible ever says about Mary

was that she "kept" things about Jesus "in her heart." It never once,

after the birth of Christ, records her saying a word about His miracle,

virgin birth.

     When Jesus began His ministry, it was apparently such a

departure from the Jesus they knew, that His friends thought He

was crazy. Mark writes, "They went out to lay hold on Him. For they

said, 'He is beside Himself.'" In other words, they thought He was

going nuts. (Mark 3:21)

     Now, this was no small matter. In fact, the Scribes and Pharisees

built on it. Immediately, they said, "He has Beelzebub, and by the

prince of devils He casts out devils.' (Mark 3:22)

     In once sense of the word, you can't blame some of these people

for reacting this way. After all, this wasn't the Jesus they had known.

But on the other hand, they weren't being open to God. They were

not opening their ears and eyes. And for this, Jesus corrected them.

Everything which was happening was in scripture. And this was the

incarnate Son of God before them. How do you mistake HIM for the

Devil? It was so grievous a thing that Jesus warned them about

being guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

     There is a lesson in this for us. God speaks to us in many and

various ways. Often, through ordinary and seemingly normal

circumstances. Do we see Jesus Christ there? Or do we instead

demand a great miracle or sign? Do we demand that God speak

to us in a certain way?

     The condition of our eyes -- that is, our heart -- determines what

we see, indeed, where we look. Those of Jesus' day did not

recognize the very Son of God in their midst. They had an agenda

for God, and God did not cater to it -- could not cater to it. So when

they looked at Jesus, they called Him the devil.

     The sin here is not that we build up expectations -- although we

should learn to hold them very loosely. The sin is when those

expectations are really demands, based in our pride. "We must

have God do it this way or that way because it honors US that He

do so." Thus, when God comes in a way contrary to our demands,

well, then it "cannot" be God, can it? It must be the Devil.

     Here we see self-will and hardness of heart. The Pharisees

faith was in their interpretation and understanding of God. It was

NOT in God Himself. This was their undoing.

     We are to trust God with all of our heart, and to lean not upon

own understanding. There is nothing wrong with understanding.

God gives us that too. But it is when we put our faith IN our

understanding that we are heading down the road to disaster. We

are to trust God. It is sufficient that HE understands.

     Once Jesus was raised from the dead, those to whom He

showed Himself no longer thought He was crazy. By that time,

they had discovered Jesus was the Son of God. The resurrection

had either confirmed this to them, or proven it.

     We have little concept of what Jesus must have went through

with His own family. They all abandoned Him. This too, was part of

what He had to experience as a human being.

Greater Claims

     The fact that Jesus returned from the wilderness and began

preaching and teaching, and doing great miracles, was evidently

a big surprise to those who knew Him. In fact, the Bible says, "They

were offended at Him." (Matt. 13:57)

     Things would only get worse from this point. The people who

heard Jesus on the day He entered the synagogue were offended

at Him. They were offended at the fact that He had no supposed

education, background, authority, or position, which would warrant

Him teaching them. This was, after all, just a carpenter. Who does

He think He is?

     The answer would soon come. Jesus would tell them exactly

"who He thought He was." And if they were offended at His taking

the position of a teacher or prophet, they were going to be outraged

when He told them the real Truth: He was the Son of God. Indeed,

He would claim to be God Himself -- in human flesh.

     It is amazing how, when all is said and done, people are brought

back to a very basic question: Who was Jesus Christ? That was

THE question back then, and it is the question for us today.

     Now, seeing as how a person's salvation depends on the

answer, you would think people would spend just a little bit of time

looking into who Jesus Christ was, and is. After all, if He was who

He claimed to be, nothing can ever be the same for any of us from

from the point we discover it.

     Jesus, of course, asked this very question at the crucial point of

His ministry. He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?"

His disciples said, "Some people say that You are John the

Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

Then Jesus asked to His disciples, "But who do YOU say that I

am?" Peter answered, "You are Christ, the Son of the living God!"

(Matt. 16:13-18)

     Notice how Jesus replied: "Blessed are you, Simon. For flesh

blood has not revealed this unto you, but my Father which is in

heaven. And I say unto you, upon this rock I will build my church?"

Upon what rock will Jesus build the church? Upon the "rock"

of Jesus AS the Christ, the Son of God. Indeed, upon the revelation

that Jesus Christ is God, Lord, and Saviour.

     If you read through the gospels, you will not find Jesus going

around the countryside, proclaiming, "I am God. I am the Son of

God. Come and be saved." Nope. In fact, if you read the above

account from Matthew 16, you get the distinct impression that NOT

doing so was deliberate. You get the impression that Jesus was

standing aside, allowing His Father to slowly, but surely, reveal to

people His real identity.

     This tells us something. It tells us that unless God reveals to us

Jesus Christ, we are not going to see or embrace Him. If that is the

way it had to be with Peter, who spent three years with Christ, who

are we? The Truth of Jesus Christ, and the Truth of the gospel, is

obtained only by revelation. GOD must do it. He must prepare the

heart and bring this Truth.

     Today we don't believe this. Even many Christians don't believe

it. We still think that Christianity is the outcome of an historical proof,

or of a logical argument. We still think that if we can get people to

give assent to a list of doctrines "about Christ" that they will be

converted. We still think that words matter. They don't. Christianity

is the result of God exposing us as needy, lost, and in need of

deliverance. And then He reveals to us Jesus Christ. There is

simply no possible way for any person to do this kind of thing in

another person. God MAY use us to help others find a direction.

But at best, we are guides -- "flesh and blood" vehicles. But nothing


     Flesh and blood could not reveal to Peter who Jesus Christ was.

It cannot do any better of a job today. But when God does reveal

Christ, it is REAL. It is something that cannot be erased or argued

away. A person is changed forever because their conversion is

based on an eternal reality and Person.

     Peter saw -- without Jesus telling Him -- that Jesus was the Christ,

the Son of the living God. He had come to the place where He

could accept and embrace this fact -- even if he did not understand

totally what it meant or would lead to.

Jesus Is God

     There are many so-called "experts" today, including ministers,

who say that Jesus never claimed to be God. To fuel their

argument, they point to the supposed fact that Jesus never actually

came out and claimed to be God. We have seen why Jesus did

not normally go around saying, "I am God." But despite that fact, He

did, on several occasions, claim to be God. In fact, He said it


     There are four places in the gospels which are the best

examples of Jesus' claim to be God. The first is in John 8. There,

Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I AM." (Jn. 8:58)

     This was not merely bad tense usage by Jesus. He was, in fact,

attributing to Himself the name of God Himself. When Moses asked

God His name, God said, "I AM." (see Ex. 3:14) So here we find

Jesus taking to Himself that very name.

     Now, the Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming. In

fact, "then took they up stones to cast at Him." They knew that

Jesus had said He was God. And they wanted to stone Him for it.

     We need to understand that if Jesus were NOT God, but had

made these claims, that the Jews were right in wanting to stone Him.

No one has a right to claim they are God. No one. Except the One

who IS God.

     Another place where Jesus said He was God is in John 5. He

says there, "My Father works hereunto, and I work." But notice

how the Jews understood His words. The next verse says, "The

Jews therefore sought the more to kill Him, because...He said that

God was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (Jn. 5:17-18)

     The Jews would not have reacted this way if all Jesus meant

was the He was "A" Son of God. No. Jesus had said that He was

THE Son of God. He WAS God. And THAT is why they were


     The third place is in John 10. There Jesus said, "I and My

Father are one." The Jews immediately picked up stones to stone

Him. Jesus asked them why. Here is their answer: "Because You,

being a man, make Yourself God!" That is how the Jews

understood Jesus' words. And they understood them correctly.

Jesus was claiming to be God. VERY God.

     The fourth place that it is clear Jesus claimed to be God is the

only one of our four that occurs after the resurrection. The event

occurs in John 20:28. When Jesus appeared to Thomas and the

others after the resurrection, and Thomas saw the wounds on the

body of Jesus, notice what Thomas said. He said, "My Lord and

My God!"

     What was Jesus' reply? Did Jesus say, "Well, Thomas, I truly

appreciate your love and concern, but you have the wrong idea

about what all this means. I am not God. I'm just a great prophet or


     No. Instead, Jesus said, "Thomas, because you have seen Me,

you have believed." In other words, Jesus was saying to Thomas:

"You have hit the nail right on the head!"

     We could list dozens of passages inside and outside of the

gospels which prove Jesus claimed to be God, and that those

who believed in Him believed He was God. That Jesus was, and

is God, is an essential Truth of the Christian faith.

A Dilemma

     Now this creates a dilemma for those who insist that we can deny

the Deity of Christ, but nevertheless honor Him as a great teacher.

In fact, it creates an impossibility for those who deny that Jesus was

God, but nevertheless want to follow His teachings. That dilemma

is this: If Jesus were NOT God, then there are only two other

options: Mad-man, or liar. This is what C.S. Lewis termed, "The

Shocking Alternative."

     Let's look at this. It is important to see that these are the only

options. If Jesus were NOT God, He could have been insane. An

insane person might claim to be God. He might believe He is

God, within His insanity.

     Likewise, if Jesus were not God, He could have been a liar. He

could have known He was not God, but simply wanted to gather

together a following. In that case, He was a deliberate, sane

religious deceiver.

     So we see again that we have three possibilities: Jesus was

insane, a liar, or God Himself.

     It is somewhat ironic that Jesus was accused of all three of these

options during His ministry. His family, at one point, thought He was

"beside Himself." The Pharisees thought Him evil -- an agent of

the Devil. And Peter saw that He was the Son of God. Those are

indeed THE three possibilities.

     The dilemma which is created is this: Once we see that Jesus

must be a mad-man, or liar, we can no longer say He was a

wonderful teacher. Why? Because a mad-man or liar cannot be

a wonderful teacher! Do YOU want to follow the teachings of a

mad-man? Of a liar? The teaching would be as worthless as He

is worthless, and should be shunned.

     Look at the teaching of Jesus. Do they seem to be the teachings

of a mad-man or a liar? Or those of the Son of God?

     Now, there is another claim some are making today. They are

saying that Jesus was NOT God, NOT a mad-man, and NOT a

liar. Instead, they are saying that He was misunderstood. They

say the followers of Jesus later attributed to Him claims of Deity --

claims Jesus Himself did not make. This, these people state,

allows Jesus to be a wonderful teacher, and does not obligate us

to choose between God, mad-man, and liar.

     This is, of course, utter nonsense for a number of reasons. First

of all, if the followers of Jesus embellished His teachings, and His

words, in order to claim He was God, then the Bible belongs in the

trash. Why? Because those same followers wrote it! Then THEY

are insane, or liars. Secondly, it means that the hundreds of

passages which call Jesus "God" are lies as well. So at that point

we need not talk about how wonderful the teachings of Jesus are.

For we don't even know if we have them! Maybe they are all made

up and merely attributed to Him by these lying followers!

However, that is actually the least of it. If you want to say that

Jesus was a wonderful teacher, but He has been made into a sort

of folk hero by those who lived after Him, then you have no Saviour.

You have NOTHING to solve the sin problem.

     This is, of course, why those who deny Jesus is God also MUST

deny we have a sin nature. There is no way to solve the sin

problem without the Saviour.

     And last, but not least, you have all of the apostles either

fabricating or imagining the resurrection -- the very event which

proved Jesus was the Son of God. (see Romans 1:4) This isn't an

article on the proofs for the resurrection. But the fact that almost all

who knew Jesus was raised from the dead were killed for that

claim -- and all died alone -- shows that they did not fabricate or

imagine the story. It happened just the way they recorded it.

     Do you think that maybe God allowed the martyrdom of His

apostles so that we could be sure they were telling the Truth? It is

likely so. They died for what they knew was the Truth.

     The fact is, there is not a single ounce of evidence anywhere for

the idea that the Jesus we read in the Bible is not the historical

Jesus. What we have is only the surmising of those who claim to

be able to discern such things "between the lines" of the gospel


     Sorry, but I'm not impressed by your surmisings. Take them and

explain them to God when you stand before Him at the judgment.

Your mind and education cannot save you.

     Jesus was either mad-man, liar, or God in the flesh. There are

NO other options. And we all must choose what we believe, and

ask ourselves why we believe it.

     If you REALLY want to know who Jesus Christ is, all you need to

do is take your sin before God. You'll find out. He died for it. And

if you are a Christian who needs affirmation on these things, you can

do the same. Jesus hasn't changed since the last time you

approached Him.

     Was Jesus "the carpenter's son?" Yes. But He was also the Son

of God. He was the Word become flesh. May we never forget that

this is the foundation of Christianity, and of our faith.

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