Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
– Luke 2:51-52
Pardon my humor, but I must ask, “Was Jesus graceful?”
Okay, the English language is said to be very hard as a second language. It is so complex. My mother-in-law had many arguments while trying do understand the language. Why are the states of Arkansas and Kansas pronounced differently? My mother-in-law could never figure that out. She feared taking the test to become a citizen of this country. By the way, she immigrated legally, and she passed the test. She spoke with an accent, but she passed.
But let’s look at the word “Grace.” By Grace we are saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 roughly). But in the English language, we say ‘grace’ before a meal. We dance with grace, style, and skill. Okay, others dance with grace. I was thrown out of a dance number. Yes, I was the group’s clown, but they could not believe that I had that little rhythm.
That’s why I have to ask, “Was Jesus graceful?” Maybe, if He stumbled on occasion, He might seem more real, more accessible. But, no, He was probably perfect in everything. He was probably the president of the student body, captain of the football team, and greatest thespian in the school play, ever. And to think, when we think of the people in our school years like that, Jesus didn’t let it go to His head, either.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter. In Luke 2:51, after being found in the Temple by His parents, Jesus returns to Nazareth and is obedient to them. Everyone seems to agree that Jesus became a carpenter. In being obedient, Joseph, as a good father, would teach his son the trade. Jesus, being obedient would learn that trade. It makes sense.
I wrote a few months ago about saying, “Dad burn it!” when I was painting my grandparent’s home while a teen-ager. In the story, I talked about how my Dad cautioned me to use other language to voice my frustration than such a horrible curse as what I was using.
What I didn’t mention was that my Dad told me about one of their hired hands on that same lunch break. I had already heard about this hired hand on the turkey farm. He was the one who gathered eggs and took them to the hatchery.
The story I remembered was that he had gathered two huge baskets overflowing with fertilized turkey eggs from the free-range turkeys in the field. They weren’t totally free-range (not that that was a term in those days) because there was an electric fence that surrounded the roughly 30 acres of land where they roamed. When the hired hand came back to the gate in the fence, he saw that he could… probably… step over the fence. If he set the bulging baskets of eggs down, one or two eggs might fall and break. That wouldn’t be too bad, but both of my parents were tending the garden that was immediately next to the gate. He didn’t want to get them mad at him. So, he stepped over with one leg. Success! But as he started to lift the second foot, the first foot slipped, ever so little, but enough for the spot, where his two britches legs met, to touch the wire that was set for weed-cutting strength.
My parents looked up when they heard the blood-curdling scream, just in time to see two baskets of eggs, that could have easily become 300 turkeys once hatched, go flying ten feet into the air. They were not happy and not very sympathetic with the hired hand, who was by then lying in the fetal position on the ground, wailing in pain.
No, the story that my Dad told that day was about when he had left this same hired hand on the hatchery roof to nail the tar paper to the roof. If you’ve ever nailed tar paper to a roof, you may be familiar with the type of nails used. The nails are very short, so they don’t stick too far through the roofing material, in this case plywood. But these nails have very wide heads. The wide head is to ensure that the nail doesn’t simply tear a hole through the tar paper, leaving the tar paper free to fly away. Since the hired hand wasn’t a master carpenter, he wasn’t skilled at holding the nail in one hand and striking the hammer with the other.
Each time he swung with the hammer, he would bend the nail sideways, tearing the tar paper. My Dad had to show him how it was done more than once. My Dad felt that was all that was necessary, after all, if he ‘showed’ him every hammer stroke, my Dad would have done the entire job himself. But each time he left the hired hand to his own skill, he either tore the tar paper or he heard mild curses, like “Dad burn it!” With the supply of tar paper dwindling, my Dad stepped in and was very firm. “No more tearing the tar paper, or you might go home early today.” At this point, my Dad heard “Dad burn it!” after every swing of the hammer. The hired hand, afraid to miss the nail head, was holding the nail until the hammer either struck his fingers or struck the nail head, pinching his fingers against the roof. Bam! “Dad burn it!” Bam! “Dad burn it!” For over an hour. My Dad gave up. He found something else for the hired hand to do, and my Dad finished the roof. After that hour of roofing, the hired hand’s fingers were so swollen, it was impossible for the fingers to be missed when the hammer came down.
Some people are what you call Klutzes. I am a proud member, although I put up the roof over what is now my sister’s garage and never hit a single finger. Now, the dints in the sheet rock here or there? Yeah, those were my misses.
No, I think Jesus had to learn the trade. There is a certain muscle memory that must be established, but I think Jesus was a fast learner. And I doubt if He said, Dad burn it!” when He missed, not even once.
Thank you, Lord, for being obedient to Your father on earth and Your Father in heaven. Because You have gone through what we have gone through, You understand us. I thank you for your Grace, and I marvel at Your grace (or gracefulness, whatever works). Amen.