“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judah, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Mark 6:3
Our text is one question, “Is not this the carpenter?” “Is not this the carpenter?” After many mighty deeds, our Lord returns to His own home town of Nazareth. He had performed many miracles and done many mighty deeds; He had been baptized. He had been tempted in the wilderness. Now the hometown boy who made good has come back to His own city of Nazareth. He went into the synagogue and He asked to share the platform with the leader of the synagogue, so He stands up and leads in the reading of the word of God to the people. He reads from Isaiah, Chapter 61, and He stood to read.
By the way, that’s where we get our custom here at First Baptist Church. It was a custom to stand to read the Word of God, and so we do that and have through these years.
Our Lord stood up to read (and it is said the place where it was written). “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted. To preach deliverance to the captives. He set at liberty them that are bound to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the Bible says he closed the book and gave it to the minister of the synagogue and then he said something that startled and angered the people. He said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your own eyes.” He said, “I’m the one about whom Isaiah was talking.” They became angered. After a while, they are going to throw Him out of the synagogue and try to throw Him down the hill of precipitation. It can still be seen by those who travel to Nazareth. But first, they asked the question. “Is not this the carpenter?” That is the text. Is not this the carpenter?
Did you ever wonder why our Lord was a carpenter? Couldn’t they have asked, “Is not this the preacher?” “Is not this the healer?” “Is not this the teacher?” “Is not this the Savior?” Or couldn’t he have perhaps been a banker? Wouldn’t that have been a little more prestigious than being a carpenter? Wouldn’t He have made it possible to say, Is not this the banker? Is not this the mayor? Is not this the lawyer? Is not this the doctor? Is not this the business man? Is not this the city councilman? Is not this the one who runs the local store? But they asked, “Is not this the carpenter?”
Now, why did our Lord become a carpenter? He looked down from Heaven before he became incarnate, clothed upon with human flesh. He looked down from Heaven and He saw all the professions. No, nothing, get this, nothing is in the Bible accidentally. I’ve always said, not one jot or tittle shall pass away until all be fulfilled. There is no unimportant word in the Bible. And so our Lord looked down from Heaven and said, “Now, what would be best for me to be on earth?” He could have been an electrician. He could have been a brick mason. Or He could have been a banker or lawyer. Or He could have been a business man. Or He could have been a politician. Or He could have just come as a preacher. But they asked the question, “Is not this the carpenter?”
Now, why? I’ll tell you why. For eighteen years or more, he was in the carpenter profession. Now, why a carpenter? Why, of all professions, a carpenter. Now, I want to give you four reasons why I think our Lord came as a carpenter and was reared in a carpenter’s home and himself was a carpenter.
In the first place, I think our Lord was elevating preparation. In the second place, I think He was elevating labor. In the third place, I think He was elevating life’s purpose. And in the fourth place, I think He was elevating salvation’s plan.
Now then. Let’s take them one at a time and I want to advance to you why I think our Lord was a carpenter. And they asked, “Is not this the carpenter?”
By the way, one time His mother and brethren came to Him, and they asked to see Him. And the question was, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” So, twice in the Bible we see the word “carpenter” mentioned. One is, “Is not this the carpenter?” And the other, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”
Now. I think our Lord was the outstanding carpenter in Nazareth. Tradition says, and I think it is true, we have reason to believe that this is true in the early years of our Lord’s life.
Joseph passed away. Jesus, being the oldest of the children, fell heir to providing for the family. So, I think that our Lord provided for His family. Did He not say to John when He was on the cross, “Behold they mother,” and, “Woman, behold they son”? Was He not providing for her in His death? Would He not even more so provide for her in His life? Jesus was a carpenter and, I think, He was the bread-winner and the wage-earner for the entire family, providing for the rest of them.
But he was, I think preparing. You say, “Preparation?” By the way, a carpenter basically made yokes and plows. That was basically what the carpenter would do. Now, as I said awhile ago, I think our Lord was the town carpenter. When they said, “Is not this the carpenter?” I think they were saying, “This is our carpenter.”
Let’s suppose that, let’s see, who’s your doctor, John? Doctor Downing. Let’s suppose that I call and you’ve gone to see him. I’ll ask Elaine. I’ll call on the phone and I’ll say, “Is John in?” And Elaine will say, “No, he’s gone to see Doctor Downing.” And I say, “Where is he?” What would you say? “He’s gone to the doctor.” Yeah, “He’s gone to the doctor’s office.” Now, that means doctor who? Well, your doctor is Doctor Downing. He’s your doctor. He’s the family doctor.
Well, you say, here’s an electrician working on something. You say, “I called the electrician.” You see. Now, he was the carpenter. He was the carpenter. They said, “Is not this the carpenter?” What does it mean? He is their carpenter. He’s the one that made their plow. He’s the one who made their yokes. He’s the one with whom they had done business. And they said, “Is not this the carpenter?”
1. He elevated preparation.
It’s interesting to me that our Lord came to seek and to save that which was lost, but He spent eighteen years at least as a carpenter and only three years in His life’s ministry. Isn’t that unusual to you? He came to seek and to save the lost, and don’t you think that maybe for those eighteen long years, He wondered, maybe, or others wondered, or His mother wondered. Sometimes, He thought, well, here I am. I have come to seek and to save the lost. Here I am making a plow out of a piece of wood, or here I’m making a yoke. Of course, you can see the fact that he was a carpenter. You can see it throughout all of his life’s ministry. He said, “He that putteth his hand to the plow and turns back. “He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” He said, “Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Don’t you think many times He had made a yoke, and He wanted to make that yoke smooth so it would be easy and not rough, you see. So, He talked a lot about His work as the maker of yokes and the maker of plows.
But, you say, “Brother Hyles, our Lord preparing?” Yes, I think God was letting His own son spend eighteen long years as a carpenter. I mean as a common laborer. Why? To elevate preparation.
I am widely concerned about this generation for many reasons. One reason is, we have the most sordid ideas about what preparation is than any generation has ever had. We do not prepare our people for life. We prepare our people for a particular vocation.
I’ve told my people this, but I want you folks who are visitors to hear it. It fits in the sermon. David, my son, is sixteen years of age. He’s at the Bill Rice Ranch now working as a carpenter. Good night—he’s probably doing that too. But he’s working as a cowboy and has now for four or five years in the summer. David loves horses, and he’s in charge of all the horses there, and the cookouts, and the riding of the horses, and so forth. And so, a year or two ago, Doctor Bill had a weekly radio broadcast and he asked David to preach a sermon on his broadcast. I got letters from several people. One person said, “I heard David preach his first sermon on the radio.” And they said, “You would have thought he was a grown man. You would have thought he was a mature preacher.” The sermon was outlined okay. It was delivered well. And they said, “David is really already a seasoned preacher.” And Doctor Bill saw me and said, “Brother Jack, David really preached a good sermon.”
And I said, “I’m glad that he did.” And Doctor Bill said, “Say, he’s good enough to preach in a church now.” And I said, “I’m glad.” And he said, “You’re going to let him preach now for you some, aren’t you?” And I said, “No. No, I’m not.” And Doctor Bill said, “Well, why?” And I said, “I’m just not. He’ll not preach for me.” And Doctor Bill said, “Well, how do you expect to make a preacher out of the boy if you don’t let him preach some?” And I said, “Doctor Bill, I’m not trying to make a preacher out of him. I’m trying to make a man out of him.”
I don’t care what your boy is going to be, if you don’t make a man out of him first, he won’t be much of whatever he’s going to be.
And our God said, “My son is coming to earth. He’s going to be the Savior of the world. He’s going to help people. But first, I want him to be a man.” And God knows we are bereft of manhood in America today. That’s why our Lord was a carpenter.
I recall my preparation. I went to college. And I’ve been to seminary. And I have some degrees. And people think, well, that’s preparation. Why, that’s the silliest thing in the world. Absolutely ridiculous. Nobody’s prepared to be a preacher just because he went to college. That’s one of the things that is wrong with our preachers and wrong with our churches. We have a bunch of fellows, a bunch of lazy, sissy, fellows who have gone off to college and not worked a day. Never had to labor hard. Never learned how to sweat. Never perspired. Never labored. They’ve gone off to colleges and seminaries at Dad’s expense, and some Godless professor has crammed a bunch of junk down their throats. They think they are preachers because they have been prepared.
Well, my preparation was more than college. I thank God that one day back in World War II, they were drafting people. In fact, anybody that had a pulse could get drafted back in those days. A physical examination consisted of, “He’s okay.” And so, I was about to get drafted. So I went down and volunteered for immediate induction. That means that I was asking for a special unit, you know. They said if you would volunteer for immediate induction, the volunteers got their preference. And so I got in the infantry. And that was not my preference.
And one day, I was out on a twenty-six mile hike. We had gone exactly half the way, thirteen miles, with thirteen miles to go. And my blisters had blisters on their blisters. And I had pulled KP. I had pulled guard. I had been on the rifle range. I had walked. I had run the obstacle courses, and, you know, that’s crawling under that barb wire, and jumping over and climbing that big old wall. I was just a kid. Just eighteen years of age. Hadn’t even shaved. No joke. I didn’t shave until I was nineteen. A Sergeant came up and said, “How long has it been since you shaved, soldier? I said, “Nineteen years.” He said, “You’ll shave tonight.” And I got me a pair of manicuring scissors and cut if off right there. And shaved. Now I shave three times a day.
Anyway, we were halfway finished with our twenty-six mile hike, and the fellows came out and said, “We have a special outfit. We want volunteers.” Now, they always knew when to ask us to volunteer. Because after walking thirteen miles with thirteen miles to go, and as one Sergeant said, I was kind of kidding. He said, “Who wants to volunteer?” And I said, “I do.” Now, I didn’t know what it was. And then he said for the Paratroopers. Seventeen weeks later, I found myself in the most precarious predicament. I found myself twelve hundred feet from the ground, with a tow sack on my back, and some silk in it, with a hope and a prayer that the silk would come out of the sack. With a Sergeant encouraging and beseeching me greatly to exit. Without any leadership from the Holy Spirit, I obeyed the Sergeant, and I was a paratrooper.
Somebody asked me on time, “How many night jumps did you make?” I said, “All the jumps I made were night jumps. My eyes were shut on all of them.” Somebody said, “How many jumps did you make?” “None; I was kicked out nineteen times. I didn’t jump any.” You say, “What are you saying this for?” I tell you what. I think God was making me a preacher. A preacher. And oh, I wanted to be a paratrooper. They said if a man could be a paratrooper, he could lick five normal men. And I confess, I never did find any normal men after I got out. I wanted to be a paratrooper. I wanted to wear those wings and have that hat and those shiny boots. The first day of training, we had to run a mile. Now, I had never run a mile. Nowadays, I run a mile often. But I had never run a mile. And they put me out with an outfit to run a mile. And they stripped us to our waist, and we had big boots on. And they said, okay. We had to count cadence, “One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.” And ran a mile. Well, about the last one hundred yards, I thought I wouldn’t make it. I blacked out. I fell out. I regurgitated all over the ground. I mean, not all over the ground. There were some parts of the ground that did not get it, but most of the world got it. And so I regurgitated and the Sergeant walked up and he stirred me with his foot. And he said, “Soldier, when we quit running in this outfit, we crawl.” And so I crawled the rest of the way. I wanted to be a paratrooper. I crawled in my own vomit. I wanted to be a paratrooper. I wanted to be one so bad. The next day I ran two miles. The next day three miles. On to the tenth day. We ran ten miles and for about three weeks we had to run ten miles every day. Now, some of you folks that were paratroopers back in the old days, know. Nowadays, they can’t run you but for a little while. Every ten minutes you’ve got to have a break and walk a bit. But we ran ten miles every day without stopping. And then push-ups. I can’t believe it myself. If I do twenty push-ups now (of course it’s a little easier I don’t have quite as far to push up as I used to). But if I do twenty push-ups now, I’m really huffing and puffing when I get through. But I did ninety with a full field pack on my back and a Sergeant counting them. He said, “Do ninety push-ups.” But what I did was, he said, “Hyles, do twenty-five push-ups.” And I said something back. And he said, “Make it fifty.” And I said, “Would you go for seventy-five?” He said, “Give me ninety.” Well, I knew I better not say anything else. And I did ninety push-ups with a full field pack on my back. That’s what you call potential energy. Because my kinetic wore out a long time before that. Why? I wanted to be a paratrooper. With all my heart, I did. We did calisthenics. We climbed ropes until I absolutely wanted to hang myself on the top of it. We did calisthenics a half a day and ran the other half. But I wanted to be a paratrooper.
Now look. What was God doing? He was making a man out of me. That’s what He was doing. God was making a preacher. Why? He wanted somebody who had some fortitude to preach. And so He was making a preacher.
I got out of the paratroops and tried to find a job. First thing I did, I bought seven hundred dollars with of furniture on credit. No job. Young, stupid. But I had a habit of sleeping on a bed, and I hated to break it. I looked and looked and looked and, finally, the only job available was laying oak floor. We didn’t have any automatic floor layers back in those days. What I would do was go to where they were building a house, and bid on laying the floor. Laying oak floor is not what carpenters prefer to do. And, of course, they don’t do it like they used to because they have machines. We just bent over all day with a hammer. I got a hand axe because it was heavier and you didn’t have to swing it quite so hard. Just give it a start and it’ll go the rest of the way itself. And sort of tilted the head like this back toward the nail so I would not get quite as many half moons on the floor. All day long you just keep on hitting the nails. Just keep on going. I can’t even bend down that far now.
Now why? I worked part of my way through college laying oak floor. Day after day. Nothing but oak floor. Absolutely worked my hand to the bone. Sweated. One hundred and nine degrees many days. Now, what was God doing? Making a preacher. Now, I’ll be honest with you. If I had to trade my paratrooper experience and my carpenter’s experience for my seminary, I’d throw the seminary out the window and take the paratrooper and the carpenter.
Why was our Lord a carpenter? “Is not this the carpenter?” Why couldn’t they have said, “Is not this the valedictorian?” “Is not this the young baking aspirant?” “Is not this the carpenter?” Why? He was elevating proper preparation.
Look. Listen to me. Hear me. You better get your kids some preparation besides just going off to some school and learning from books. I’m sick of it. We have a generation of lazy bums “parasite-ing” off the government. Because you moms and dads, you gave this little song and dance. “I just don’t want them to have to go through what I had to go through.” And you’re ruining them. Our colleges are full of kids that are not worth the powder it would take to blow them up because you didn’t have enough sense to put them through what you had to go through.
I vowed that my boy was going to work. I’ve always insisted he go to the ranch in the summer time. I want him to work his head off. One summer I was down at the ranch, and I’ll be there, by the way, this week to preach a couple of days, God willing. And I was preaching and Doctor Bill came up and he said in front of David something I wanted to kill him for. He said, “Why don’t you let me give David a horse?” Well, that’s just what I needed. At 8232 Greenwood in Munster lives a horse. I’d been praying for one for months. A horse. And there was David. And that boy’s eyes got big. He said, “Hey, Dad, wouldn’t that be great?” I said, “Deliriously wonderful.” A horse. And so I took it. You know, it was sort of fun to walk home and say to your family, “I’ve got something for you. Surprise.” There happened to be a fellow across the street who had a big back yard, and he had a little barn-like place in his back yard, and so we went over and asked him if we could use it. We bought some food. And I don’t know what we got. Dog food, land mash. I’m not sure what it was. But we got some food (I thought that was funny, myself). Anyway, we got some food and David had to carry water over there. Most of the year, he would start with the water but it would be ice by the time he got there. He had to go in the snow with the food. It would be one o’clock in the morning and the telephone would ring. I’d go to the door to see if that was what was ringing. That wasn’t ringing. I’d check the alarm to see if that’s what went off. That wasn’t it. Pick up the telephone. The process of elimination. And I said, “Hello.” And somebody said, “Do you have a horse?” And I said, “Yes.” And they said, “This is the Munster Police Department. Your horse is about three blocks away from your house. And neighbors are calling. He’s licking the screens.” And so I’d get out of bed and go get the horse. And the next night, the phone would ring. Three o’clock in the morning. I’d pick it up and say, “Where is he tonight.” And I’d go get the horse. Why did I put up with that crazy horse? You know why I did? Because I wanted to rear a boy. I wanted to rear a boy. And my boy would get on that horse and ride that horse down Greenwood. Isn’t that something. That’s sort of like a boat landing in the desert, you know. He’d ride that horse down Greenwood. Kids would line up wanting to ride that horse. And finally, the fellow across the street said, “I can’t take care of that horse anymore.” And I said, “Well, good.” Well, then some guy out here in Dyer runs a hotel for horse. And we rented a room. Suite out there. And so we would have to go out there and exercise the crazy thing. It costs me twenty-five dollars a month just for a place for him to stay. Had to feed him too. And David would go out and ride him. Why? Because I wanted my boy prepared to be a man. That’s why. This may come as a great shock to you, but I’d rather my boy know how to ride a horse than to take Greek.
“Is not this the carpenter?” Why? Because our Lord wanted to elevate proper preparation. Eighteen years he spent in a carpenter shop as the city carpenter. The town carpenter. Why? Waiting for that day when he would be baptized by John. Showing proper preparation.
You know what I think? I think when I say to a young girl like I did awhile ago, “You sit still,” I think that’s more preparation than taking a course in city school. Have your kids work. One of the sad things about this generation is the fact that everybody is moving into town. Nobody plows anymore. Nobody chops cotton anymore. Nobody pulls corn anymore. Nobody milks cows anymore. Nobody slops pigs anymore. Nobody gathers eggs anymore. You know, I long sometimes for the old days. Did your mother ever do what my mother used to do? We couldn’t afford any chickens, but we’d go down to my aunt’s house and we’d buy a few chickens and rear them. And my mother would go out in the back yard. Did you ever see anybody go out in the back yard and get a chicken by the neck? How many ever saw that? Well, I declare. You bunch of hayseeds. And sure, to me, that’s one of the most bloodthirsty things I ever saw. And then, and then I’ve seen her stand there holding the head in her hand watching the remains flop around the yard. And I wanted to pick up that head and say, “Man, I’m sorry. You gave your life for a good cause! There is nothing personal in all of this. We have nothing against you at all, except we just got in the habit of eating.”
You know, I feel sorry for kids nowadays. I feel sorry for them. Demonstrate. Good night. Talk about rough. If you had lived back yonder twenty years ago, you would have just started a war. Demonstrating. I don’t have anything but a ’68 to drive. And you parents are ruining them. Just ruining them.
The Son of God, the incarnate deity, God in flesh came to seek and to save the lost. But the Heavenly Father, in His wisdom, said, “I want Him for eighteen years to labor in a carpenter shop.” “Is not this the carpenter?”
2. He elevated labor.
Jesus elevated labor. Did you know before Jesus came as a carpenter, did you know it was almost a disgrace to be a carpenter? Those who plowed the soil, cut the timber, and fashioned the brick were called “the common herd.” “The common herd.” That’s what they were called. Common labor was a disgrace. Distasteful. People looked down with distaste on the common laborer. Did you know for example that in ancient Greece they were called “outcasts”? Common laborers. Carpenters. Brick layers. Soil turners. They were called “outcasts.” Did you know in ancient Rome they had few rights and privileges? Those that worked with their hands were looked down upon, and their privileges and rights were very few because they were considered second-rate citizens.
Our Lord came to elevate labor. You know, I’d like to ask you a question. What’s wrong with work anymore? What’s wrong with work? Where did it go? Where did the good old work go? What ever happened to work?
I was in Maid-Rite’s the other day and I ordered a couple of sandwiches to go and a fellow was sitting there. I was standing by the end stool where the guy was sitting, reading the paper. He said, “We’re going to get our money.” I said, “What?” He said, “The carpenters.” What is it, nine dollars they’re asking fore? Nine dollars an hour? How much? Five dollars an hour more? What are they making now? They’re asking for thirteen dollars an hour? “Is not this the carpenter?” Thirteen dollars an hour. Anyhow, this fellow said, “We’re going to get it.” I said, “What?” He said, “The carpenters.” I said, “You on strike?” He said, “Yes, sir. Going to strike.” He didn’t know who I was. He was cussing a bit. And I said, “What do you want?” He said, I thought he said nine dollars, maybe he said thirteen. But anyway, “We’re going to get it.” He said, “Nowadays, that’s the racket to be in.” I said, “Man, that sounds right to me.” He said, “That’s the best place to be.” I said, “May I ask you a question?” We were both waiting on hamburgers. I said, “Let me ask.” He said, “All right.” I said, “Is that all there is to working any more is how much you get an hour?” I said, “Did you ever build a house and stop to look at it and say, ‘I’m providing shelter and warmth for somebody today?”
Is there no pride any more? I mean, what ever happened to just laboring because it’s good to labor? Jesus became a carpenter. Why? I’ll tell you why. He wanted people to know that there is honor and a justifiable pride in just being a good old-fashioned hard worker. And that’s why our Lord said, “I was inspired by the Holy Spirit.” The writer wrote, “If a man won’t work, don’t let him eat.” Black or white or chartreuse, if they won’t work, let them lie on the sidewalk like the starving millions of India and starve. I’m tired and sick. A bunch of lazy gluttons. A bunch of beer belly, lazy loafers living off our money. Work. Work. Somebody ought to start an old-fashioned college that’ll just teach our kids to work a bit. Our Lord came to elevate labor. I’ll be honest with you, the poverty program is nothing more than a loafers program, basically. I’m against the guaranteed income. I’m against minimum wage for guaranteed income. I’m against giving folks money. I’m against these ladies, pardon me, these females, many of them by the hundreds in Chicago, we’re paying money to teach how not to have illegitimate children. Encouraging every kind of filth in the world and hiding it behind a poverty program. Sometimes I’d like to just take my fist and stick it right in the bread basket program.
You say, “You’re a bigot toward race.” That’s how big a fool you really are. A fellow says, “You ought to work or starve,” and you idiots say, “You hate the Negro.” Well, if he’s a lazy fellow, let him stand up and be counted. If it’s a white lazy man, he’s just as bad.
I was down here in the 1100 block on Sibley about five years ago. I walked in, and there lay on the sofa a great big, old beer-guzzling drunk. His stomach looked like a piece of macaroni that swallowed an olive. And there he was lying on the sofa at 12:00 noon, or shortly after, opening his government check. Drunk.
Senator Byrd, the late Senator Byrd, isn’t it? From Virginia. Took a poll and found that of all the government checks cashed in Washington, D.C., 43% were cashed in liquor stores. 43%.
Let me sort of just gripe awhile. Do you know that the urban renewal is not going to work? A fellow who won’t keep an old house clean won’t keep a new house clean. It won’t work. Somebody said the other day, “If you want to see some real shoddy places, you go over just off State Street, in South Chicago, in South Central Chicago, and you go to those places and see how run down they are on the inside.” You know why? We’re taking a bunch of people who won’t keep up an old house and giving them a new shiny house, and it’ll be old just like the other one. A fellow who won’t keep a window put in his house when it’s an old house, won’t put a window in the new house either when it’s busted out. But what are we trying to do? We are building a society on, “if you don’t want to work, we’ll feed you.”
Had a fellow the other day walk in my office. He said, “Reverend Hyles. I have heard about you all over the country.” And I lock my pocket. And I say, “May I help you?” “Well,” he said, “I’ve hit…” Some of these fellows are fluent. They are public speakers. They could teach Dale Carnegie’s course. He smiled at me and he said, “A few unfortunate circumstances have arisen.” He said, “I have a check” (a check is always on the way), “on the way. Could you advance me a $20 bill until Tuesday?” And I said, “No. But,” I said, “Tell you what.” I said, “I have got a lot of work that needs to be done, and I’ll pay you a dollar and a half an hour if you’ll do the work.” He said, “What do you think I am, a rescue mission bum?” I said, “I’m not sure what kind of bum. But,” I said, “I’m not paying you until you work.” He said, “I’m not strong enough to work. I’m hungry.” I said, “Go to the rescue mission.” He said, “I’m not going to stoop that low.” I said, “Then starve on high.” Work.
A lot of you have girls that won’t even make their beds up before they go to school each morning. And mama trots in and makes the bed up for the child, and the child throws a fit. And if they do make it up, it looks like a haystack. It looked better before they started on the job.
Some of you men who have boys will go home tonight, and you’ll take the garbage out and you have a big old boy right there beside you. We’re rearing a generation of no-good loafers. And by the way, a lot of them are right here in this building. I can tell you in our church from our better families that folks in our church and businessmen have tried to hire but they wouldn’t work because they hadn’t been taught to work. And I’ve had employers come to me and say, “What can I do? These are good people in our church. What can I do? They’re not worth half the salary they’re making. What can I do?”
“Is not this the carpenter?” “Is not this the carpenter?” Why was He a carpenter? He wanted to baptize His people with the fact that good, honest sweat and labor is sanctified. He came to elevate labor.
By the way, I want to say this, too. I don’t think everybody ought to go to college. I think some folks should never go to college. I think it would be good for a lot of young people just to get out of high school and go out to the steel mills and go to work. Somebody’s got to do that. I think it would be a good thing for a lot of fellows to get out of school and just become carpenters. I can recall when a carpenter was looked down on even in our area. They’d say, “He’s just a carpenter.” That mean he couldn’t find work any place else. And nowadays, the banker goes and borrows money from the carpenter.”
I could say a million things, and I think I will. I’m tired of kids having cars to run all over town in. Bought by dads and mothers. And so what do we do? Our insurance goes up $400 a year. $400 a year! When I was a kid, you took $19.95 and bought a car with it. I don’t mean $1,995. I mean nineteen dollars and ninety-five cents. What happens? Junior’s got to have his way. When I was a kid, I didn’t get all the advantages. The honest, simple truth is, what you thought were not advantages were advantages. Jesus came to elevate labor.
3. He elevated purpose in life.
Joseph died in his youth. And our Lord took over the job of providing for the family. I like what the old Negro said in the electric light plant. Somebody said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m serving the Lord.” “Serving the Lord?” “Yea, serving the Lord.” “How are you serving the Lord in the electric light plant?” He said, “I’s providing light to cast out darkness. And you can’t steal as much in light as you can in darkness. I’s just keeping folks from stealing.”
You know, to me, if I weren’t a preacher, I would want to be in a profession that did something for somebody. As I said awhile ago, I used to be an oak floor layer. And I’ve also hung some drywall. Now, I don’t mind the walls, but my head is just not shaped for that, like that. Now, flat heads like John Penlem and Ed Wolber and others can do that, but my head’s just not shaped properly. But I’ve hung some drywall. A lot of it. I put on a lot of gypsum too. That’s the stuff you put outside the house under brick. It’s sort of black drywall. It’s called gypsum. I’ve put a lot of that on. And there’s nothing quite as bad as to be in the third story of a building on a scaffold putting gyplap and the thing is a sheet about two by eight or four by eight, and a big wind come up and there you are holding it. It’s been a long time since I did that, but to this day, I can go to Dallas, Texas, and drive down the street and say to my kids, “I laid the floor in that house.” Now, to this day, there’s a pride about it. Why? Well, boy, every time somebody moves in a house, when I’d put the floor in, we’d almost have a little dedication service. I’d go and watch them move in. And many times I’ve walked in, no joke, if I was putting floor down next door, and a family moved into a house where I had just laid the floor, I’d walk in and I’d say, “How do you like your house?” They didn’t know who I was. “Fine.” I’d say, “How do you like the floor?” “Huh? The floor?” “The floor. Pretty, huh?” “Yeah. Pretty. Why?” “I did it.” Nowadays, hang how I did it. Nowadays, I want more money. I want bigger breaks. I want less hours. I want more benefits. I want air-conditioned restrooms. I wan an hour lunchtime. I want a bigger slice of bologna for lunch. I want more attention. More retirement plan. I want to work 32 hours a week. You are a wretch.
Our Lord came to elevate the fact it isn’t how much you make, it’s what is your purpose in it all? There was a day when people would make some shoes and with pride would sell their shoes. Nowadays, a fellow sticks a tack in it as it goes by. He can’t say, I did it. He says, “That tack right there is the one I put in.” There’s no pride in that. No pride in it. The honest, simple truth is, one of the things wrong with our nation is the fact is we have lost our purpose in what we are doing. We’ve lost it.
I want to say our Lord came to elevate the plan of salvation. You know why he became a carpenter? You know why our Lord became a common laborer? I’ll tell you why. Because there are more of us than anybody else. He wanted to identify Himself with the common man.
You know, that’s why I preach like I do? Did you know I know homiletics? Did you know that I taught homiletics in a Christian college for several years? You didn’t know that, did you? Isn’t that something. It really is. I taught it. Did you know that I’ve got some theological studies that I could give you, but you’d choke to death on them. You know why I talk about ringing the chicken’s neck? Because you can understand that.
Our Lord wanted to be understood. The God of Heaven becoming flesh. Working in a carpenter’s shop. “Is not this the carpenter?” Here’s what I mean. A lady came to me in Tallahassee, Florida. She said, “Would you pray for my unsaved husband?” I was there preaching. She said, “Brother Hyles,” she said, “My husband, nobody can reach him. The pastor has been by. Every evangelist that has ever been here has been by our house. Nobody can reach my husband. Would you pray that he would be saved?” About Thursday at noon, the pastor said, “We’re going to eat with a family today.” I said, “Who is it?” He said, “It’s that lady whose husband is unsaved.”
Well, we drove out in the country. The husband came in and had on coveralls. I sat down at the table and we had a prayer. First one they’d had in that house, I imagine, since the last time preachers were there because the fellow was just an old lost sinner. He got his fork in one hand and his knife in the other. And after awhile he got his thumb, and he’d get his fork and push it on like that. And he got his mouth way down. Just right at the plate. The pastor was so embarrassed. And he whispered over and he said, “Doctor Hyles, I’m sorry.” He thought that offended me and I could tell he was so embarrassed. And the pastor, God bless him, was sitting there with his hand under the table.
Now, when I go certain places where I have to put my hands under the table, I do it. But I think it’s stupid. Now, to me, chasing peas across a plate, and especially the last two or three, there’s nothing quite as bad as that. And boy, I just chase those peas all over the plate. I do it. The pastor over there had his hand under the table, and he was quite proper, you know. And so I got my fork, put my sleeves up like that. And I got, I got like this. And I just… And that old man looked at me. He was just as countrified as they come. He said, “Man, you really get with it, don’t you?” And I said, “Yeah. I came from Texas.” And he said, “You’re a big eater.” And I said, “Thank you.” You know, he fell in love with me? No joke. He literally fell for me. Before we left that house, that man was saved. Nobody could reach him. Theology couldn’t do that…a fellow who did like that. I’m not so sure that we don’t miss a lot of chances because we don’t reach the people.
That’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “I’ve become all things to all men.” He didn’t mean he drank with the drunkards. He meant he shoveled black-eyed peas with Southerns. He meant he came where they were. And our Lord wanted to come, but not in the bank, because there were not many bankers. Not in the city council chambers, because there were not many city councilmen. Our Lord wanted to come in the carpenter shop so he could bedeck laborers’ crowns with jewels of perspiration. So He could give honor to sweat. So He could magnify the common man. So that in 1970, the last Sunday of June, Sunday night, somebody sitting in the service who is a hard-working steel mill worker who’s not saved could say, “You mean Jesus sweat too?” Yeah. “You mean He worked with His hands?” Yeah. He was no effeminate sissy like the effeminate artist painting. He was all man. 18 years as a carpenter. Why? He wanted to elevate his preparation. Elevate labor. To elevate life’s purpose, and to picture the plan of salvation for, in His becoming a carpenter, He was telling us that he who was sinless had become sin. He had taken upon Himself our own infirmities and weaknesses that He might offer to those of us who, in faith, trust Him, a covering of perfection.
I gave Him my old tattered garment,
He gave me a robe of pure white.
I’m feasting on manna from Heaven,
And that’s why I’m happy tonight.
Let us pray.