The Carpenters Son?
I suppose that if you were to require a “text” from me today,
I would have to choose Luke 4:20 which says that
“the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Jesus” in other words – everybody was looking at him. God may sometimes put you in a predicament where all eyes are on you; where all wonder at your words, where all question your motives and where all doubt your pedigree. That is exactly what was happening to Jesus and they were asking each other – “Is not this Josephs Son, is this not the Carpenters son?”
He had just been tempted for 40 days in the wilderness, as the Devil had tested his metal – he had just received a Baptism from the greatest Prophet who ever lived, the sage of the age! He had received a heavenly and holy recommendation and commendation – an audible voice from heaven, that spoke of Gods approval. He had changed water into wine, made blind eyes see, fed more than 5000 with bread and fish, … and they still asked “is not this the carpenters Son?” What do you do when people will only ever see you in a “past light” and not in the “present light”. What do you do when people remember your old ways, and refuse to accept the new you. What do you do when past labels simply will not fall off? How do you cope when people can only see you for what you were and never
try to see you for what you are?
Today I want to talk to you about “The Carpenters Son” for you see I too am a Carpenters Son, and there are some things that were said about Jesus at that time that I can identify with.
I want to talk with you today about Exceptionalism. An exceptional person does not say what you expect them to say, does not work as you would expect them to work, does not function as any normal may function and does not perform like everyone else. When we speak of an exceptional person, or consider one an exceptional person, we must be careful not to make the common mistake of assuming that exceptional means better, or more talented, or more gifted or more favoured, – this is the mistake so many make? Let me say it Long and let me say it Loud, an exceptional person is simply an exception. It’s right there in the word itself, you can’t be exceptional unless you are linked to the word EXCEPT. They all sang “Happy Birthday” loudly, except me, they all spoke well of him, except me, they all gave her a kiss, except me. I was the exception, because I am exceptional. Let me explain,…
An exceptional person, does not fit the mould, does not follow the pattern, does not conform to the norm. An exceptional person understands their own identity and uniqueness and is not in any way anxious to be classed as ordinary. I believe that some of us are called to exceptionalism. Jesus was the exception to the rule – he didn’t always fit in to the religious order of the day. In fact we might accurately describe him as the odd man out! That’s exceptionalism.
He challenged the way the people saw their faith, the way they saw their God, challenging their religious practices, their doctrines and their routines. It is interesting to notice that He challenges the religious, not the sinners, not the whoremongers, the idolaters, the swindlers, or the so called heathen of the day – NO – he goes for the holier than thou, what we might call the aristocracy of the kingdom. He had taken their religion out of its history and brought it into the present day and they don’t like it, – it had not been done that way before. Religious people often get nervous when we talk about the now.
In the mist of your normal everyday life, God is doing something in your now but most of us can’t see it, and if we could see it. could we handle it or understand it? As long as the historical Scriptures do not challenge your contemporary lifestyle, you are OK with Gods word, but once Gods word challenges what you are doing today, you feel uncomfortable. Jesus was making them feel uncomfortable. Thank God for those I make uncomfortable in my preaching – and if I am not making you uncomfortable, then I am not following in the footsteps of the Saviour.
I have often noticed that religious people do not mind if we speak about God or about Jesus Christ in the context of the future – we’ll do it in heaven, or if we talk about Him from past memories – we’ll celebrate him from history, from blessings past – but I recognise, as I’m sure you do, I need a God for my today,
I want a God who can operate in my NOW! “This day, is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Jesus was speaking to them of a God in the NOW and in the KNOW, not a God of the past or the future, and they didn’t feel comfortable about allowing God into their now. (We’ll see just how uncomfortable they were in a few moments.)
So Jesus closed the book and he sat down. He had read the scriptures from the Historical texts of the Prophet Isaiah – and he says this day is this scripture fulfilled. They marvelled at the profundity and the power of his words, and then (somewhat strangely but predictably) they defined him only by what they saw, and they incarcerated him into the realm of their understanding. They could see that he was exceptional, but they imprisoned him in the “ordinary” when they asked
“Is this not Josephs son”?
What are people saying about you that’s stopping you? Will you be limited by how others define you? Do you have the courage to break the mould? This message is not about maintaining the status quo, it is not for the routine and the ritualistic believer, this sermon is for the radical Christian who will not wait to be released – but will break out of the prison of mediocrity and step into the realm of the exceptional. Are you going to be a Josephs son or not? What is your answer?
You see, as I’ve said, I too am a Carpenters son – but I am not who you think I am. Jesus could say: “how dare you define me by your understanding“. And as I said a few weeks ago, A house may look different from the hallway than it does from the driveway.
When you look at me what you regularly see is not me, you see the “Public” me, not the “Private” me. You see me when I’m preaching or teaching, when I’m witnessing to my faith and my friendship with Jesus.
You don’t see me when I’m crying on my knees to the Lord for the lost of the land, You don’t see me when my heart is aching and breaking for those unsaved friends who are rejecting my message. You don’t see me when I’m struggling before God for the faith to believe what he says, even though it seems so incredibly impossible. You don’t see me when I’m fighting with those who would oppose me or criticise my boldness for truth. You don’t see me when I have been disappointed or betrayed or just let down badly. You can’t possibly see the “hell” that I have had to pass through to get to where I am today with God. You don’t know the hours of agonizing study, prayer and fasting to lay hold of the word of God and to mould it and make it intelligible to my listeners and communicative to a wider audience than most preachers have. So what you see is not
who I am – I am more than what you see.
Jesus could have said: Joseph raised me, yes, but I am not trapped or bound by who raised me. While the Carpenter’ shop raised me, trained me and gifted me – I was in it but I’m not off it. I can say the same. Today, I expect we can all identify with things that “we were in” but we were not “of” those things. Some of you (before you came to saving faith, or in a back-sliding state) walked in all kinds of evil, perverse and cruel paths) – You know, and God knows that while you were IN it, you were certainly not OF it!
If I finished here today, I have already said enough because if you will take this and apply it, you will cease to be defined by what you were in, because … just because you were in it does not mean that you were of it.
Yet I’ll Press on… Jesus says “This day these scriptures are fulfilled …” So I hear them begin to ask … “Why don’t you do these great things here?” and he responds in v24, by saying that “a Prophet is without honour in his own country.” This simply means that wherever it was that you were born and raised, people will always fail to see you as you are. The honour due to you will elude you in your own homeland. Why a prophet is without honour, (not seen correctly) is because of the peoples view. It will not be his view that determines their level to receive from him, it will be their view of him. Let me say that the only thing limiting me is how you see me – and if you see me as ordinary, then your view of me is blurred: That’s not me –
I am anything but ordinary.
This question on their lips, “is this not the Carpenter – Josephs son?“ is really asking “Who does he belong to?” Let me say that when an exceptional person meets with an ordinary person, there will always be some level of conflict – there’s going to be
a fight between the ordinary and the exceptional. Any time exceptional people live or function among the ordinary, there will always be conflict potential. They were asking “How did you get to talk like this – how did you get all this learning – your Daddy is a Carpenter, stay in your place, be like your Father, live like you grew up, stay in your neighbourhood, how dare you move from your place. You’re supposed to be swinging hammers, not singing hymns – stay in your place!
The defining quality really is whether or not you will fit in with the rest, run with the pack or be exceptional? The root “EXCEPT” – it will define you! – They’re all worried, except me, they’re all fearful, except me, they’re all leaving, except me, they’re all conforming except me, they are all following the plan, except me. Do you see what makes the Exceptional different from the Ordinary? I think there are some exceptional people listening in today. Not the run of the mill people, bold, radical, tenacious, allowing the world to see that they are the exception to the rule. I am exceptional – I refuse to fit into any mould that the world may try to make for me. I only want to fit into Gods mould.
So, Jesus who is exceptional is having a conversation with ordinary – and as expected there is conflict. Don’t try to get along with those who think ordinary when you know that God made you to think exceptionally. Don’t try to straighten them out, they are speaking ordinary you are speaking exceptional. So Jesus says to them I will not stay in my place, I will not live up to some dead reputation of any human ancestor. And like Jesus, I will not look like, walk like, or talk like anyone expects me to, I wear no name but that of my Saviour. I am not ashamed of my past or my parenting, and while my past has made me what I am today, there is no going back. Be careful that you are not looking back – remember Lot’s wife. God wants His children to live for the Now and for the NEXT!
So in order to clarify his position – Jesus calls for two witnesses. He says in v25 “There were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, who were living in a famine for three and half years, but God does not send the Prophet and the Provision to any of them, rather, instead he sends Elijah to Sarepta in Sidon to bring deliverance to someone who was not even a Jew. There were many who needed a miracle here (at home) but none of them got it except one who God considered to be an exceptional woman. God doesn’t do the ORDINARY, He’s an EXTRAORDINARY God! Don’t allow people to define you by their thinking or put you into a box of their making. If you are called and chosen by God then you will stand out, to do and be what God has ordained. Let God be God in your life and in your walk. Partner with God, Allow his hand to be in your hand, and “come out from amongst them and be ye separate”
2 Corinthians 6:17
Jesus mentions the widow who clearly had moved into Exceptionalism in spite of the fact that she was not one of them. God gave her exceptionalism; and if you read her story in
1st Kings 17 you will see why she was by no means ordinary? Then Jesus goes on to mention another, this time Naaman, the Leper. Naaman, again was not a Jew but a Syrian, and this was adding more fuel to their rage, adding insult to injury – in that he was singling out those who were if you like the “non conformist” to their idea of who was acceptable or not
in religious circles?
Leprosy was a killer, and it was Sectarian, it brought separation into peoples lives and furthermore every leper died. Because it was an infectious disease, it was common place that Lepers were colonised. (people always colonise what they cannot cure)
We know from the record in 2nd Kings 5 that Naaman, was a mighty man, revered and respected by everyone around him. He was undoubtedly wealthy and influential, yet this one problem (his leprosy) persisted and I recon that he would have traded it all for his freedom and for his healing. He was destined in his day to live with the unclean, there were no hospitals, no medicines no drugs, no ambulances, no specialists. Isn’t it strange how one thing going wrong can mess up everything else that’s going right. But note that Naaman HAD it, and Naaman HID it!
I want to speak with you for a moment about the things you have that no one sees, the hidden issues in your life. The things that make you feel miserable. The things that make you colonize with like minded individuals. You are afraid to mix with the exceptional. You are afraid of change, you are afraid of honesty, you are afraid sometimes even of help. Let me remind you that God sees what others cannot see, and God accepts us for what we are, not for what we wish we were. God accepts us as we are, so that he can make us unique – so that he can change what needs to be changed, so that he can transform us with his divine “make over”. He accepts us as Ordinary, to make us Exceptional. You can come to God, just as you are – warts and all, and He’ll love you just as much as he loves me. God is not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34) God has no favourites in his family circle – and there is no hiding from God – no point in it!
Everyone who had leprosy died – the first case of leprosy recorded for us in the Bible, was in Miriam, Moses’ sister and for hundreds of years everyone with this terrible disease all died without exception – that is, until we come to Naaman. You see Jesus was showing them (and showing us) that there are exceptions to every rule. How long did they gave you to live, have they told you you’d never walk, whatever kind of cancer is that, and are they sure there is no cure for it? You don’t have to die for in Gods economy, there are always exceptions.
Some of you may be Cursed with some affliction, yet just because it was in your family, does not mean that it had to run through your body. Start thinking – everyone except me. Stop thinking like your sick, dressing like your sick and acting like you sick, – begin saying “I’m coming out of this“. My Bible says “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he” Prov 23:7 Change your mind and come out of it. Don’t accept it, don’t allow it, don’t endure it, don’t live in it, don’t resign yourself to it. And Don’t call it yours. Claim your healing now. This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ear. If you’ve been living under some plague or affliction then give God a praise now for the healing in your body today. The Word says “By his stripes you were healed” 1 Peter 2:24 Begin saying what God says and you’ll begin seeing what God sees. Like your Salvation, it’s already a done deal. Praise God.
In conclusion, I will need to give a word of warning to the exceptional among you – as long as you are ordinary and fit in, as long as you are only hammering nails, doing what’s expected of you – people will like you, …
but the moment you dare to be the exception, the moment you walk in your destiny, follow your calling, declare your victory, decree your healing, – don’t expect people to be glad for you – you’ll have to be glad for yourself. The Bible says, that when Jesus brought up the Widow and Naaman, (who were not Jews) that his hearers got angry, they got mad, v28 – and they snatched Jesus and they started carrying him out to the edge of a nearby cliff, fully intent to throw him over – to his death, -v29.
Some of you have people who are carrying you out to throw you off or over a cliff. (And if you can’t identify them today, believe me they are not far away, only waiting in the wings.)
But somewhere between the temple and the cliff, Jesus slipped out of their hands, and slipped out of their hold. Thank God.
Today, I want to declare deliverance in your life for anyone who has ever been surrounded by those who are trying to destroy them. Those who instead of Praying for you, are preying on you. Like Naaman, God is going to give you a deliverance, a release, and a new way to walk. An exceptional God deserves an exceptional praise – So what if you don’t fit in, what if you don’t measure up to others expectations, what if they don’t like you, what if they think you’re odd, what if they say all manner of evil against you falsely, what if they throw stones at you, what if they crucify you, Jesus said ”rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you” Matt 5:12
Praise God for whatever he has done in your life, to change you from what you were to what you are, from who you were to who you are. As I said at the beginning, I used to be a carpenters son, now I am a whole other person. Try to look at others and accept and love them for who they are.
One day, Jesus looked into a Sycamore tree and saw a little man called Zacchaeus. The world hated him, he was a thief. He was a no good nobody we might say, yet Jesus did not see him for what he was, nor even for what he is, Jesus saw him only for what he could become. (Read the story for yourself in Luke 19) Zacchaeus too had a “This day” experience – and after a Divine “Make Over” Zacchaeus was never the same again. If God could do it for him, He can do it for you. He specializes in taking the ordinary and making them exceptional.
God Bless You …Amen