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The Stone Carpenter

One of the things I learned in Nazareth, was that a carpenter in Jesus day meant more than someone who worked with wood. It was a person who worked with stone also. There wasn’t a different word for the two. It’s interesting to me because it changes how I think about Jesus versus how I thought of Him as just a woodworker. Knowing that Jesus could have been a stone worker as well, brings other verses to life that didn’t quite make as much sense before.

One of the first scriptures I thought of when I heard that was I Peter 2:5. It says, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (NLT). You and I are living stones that Jesus, the stone carpenter, shapes, molds, and builds with. No matter how hard our hearts might be, He can use His divine chisel to form us into who He needs us to be.

Another one I thought of was Matthew 16:18 that says, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” I’ve always thought of this verse as just Peter being the Rock, but when we think of what Peter said above, each one of us are the Rock with which Jesus builds His church. We are the ones also who the powers of hell will not conquer. We are stronger than we think and we have the power of God in us causing us to be able to withstand anything the enemy brings.

Go one more step with me. Mark 15:46 says, “Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance.” I don’t think it was coincidental that Jesus was buried in a rock. When we become Christians, we accept Jesus into our hearts. He fills the void inside of us just like He did that tomb.

The list could go on and on throughout the Bible. These are just a few examples I’ve thought of while sitting in Nazareth. Jesus was more than a wood carpenter, He was a stone carpenter. He’s a builder who uses what is available. No matter how little or much we think we have to offer, He can use it to build His Church because we carry His spirit inside of us. We are living stones because the One who lives forever, lives in us. We are His workmanship created to do good works, as Paul put it in Ephesians 2:10.


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The Olive Press

Nazareth Village is in the town of Nazareth and recreates what life was like for Jesus here He grew up. We watched them make yarn from the sheep they were raising and learned how they would color it. We watched a man crush wheat on a threshing floor and saw the tools used to separate the wheat from the chaff. We also saw an olive oil press that was very similar to what would have been used in that time.

The guide showed us how they would put the olives in the press, roll the millstone to crush them, take baskets woven from wool to scoop up the olives, set them on top of each other, and let the oil drain. He said this was the purest oil and would have been offered to God. The color was the clearest and would have tasted the best. We would refer to this as virgin olive oil in our world. It’s what comes naturally from crushing the olives.

Next, he showed how they would use a leaver to lift heavy stones and a pole to crush the olives more. This heavy stone pressed the olives harder than the millstone and squeezed out oil. This oil was what was sold and used in every day cooking or for perfume. After that, they would move the baskets a little further in the press where they could exert even greater pressure. The oil that came from this pressing was typically dirty and what was used to put in oil lamps to light houses.

After he showed us this, he reminded us that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane (translated the olive press) to pray the night He would be handed over to the authorities. In Luke 26:38 Jesus said, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me” (GNT). He was like an olive being crushed in that place. The pressure became so great that by the third time (the hardest press) He went to pray, Luke 22:44 says, “In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Isaiah 53:5 described what was going on in the Garden of the Olive Press. It says, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (NLT). Jesus withstood excruciating pain for our sins. The oil (blood) that came out was holy and offered to God for our sins. It was pure and very costly. A price and suffering He willingly endured in order to pay for our sins. A sacrifice so great demands our heart, our soul, and our life.

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