Jesus and the Meaning of the Carpenter

by Joshua Tilghman on July 17, 2015

jesus the carpenterThe Jesus of the New Testament has come down through the ages as a carpenter. The Gospel of Mark, chapter six verse three, clearly identifies him as such:

“Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?

It is interesting that the Son of God would be a carpenter. Many theologians have remarked that Jesus was a carpenter because he had to identify with the average man. What better blue collar job to identify with than a carpenter? Justin the Martyr alluded to this in his work entitled, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 88:

“And when Jesus came to Jordan, he was considered to be the son of Joseph the Carpenter; and he appeared without comeliness, as the Scriptures declared; and he was deemed a carpenter (for he was in the habit of working as a carpenter among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which he taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life).”

Thus by identifying with the average man, Jesus could, as Mr. Martyr alludes to, use something ordinary to teach something ethical and extraordinary such as righteousness by his work.

But is there a deeper meaning to being a carpenter that lies hidden beneath the literal story? Maybe something the casual reading of Jesus being a carpenter would not reveal? The answer is yes. Jesus, as the symbol of salvation, would be a carpenter since no other symbol would fulfill his destiny quite so good. Let’s investigate.

H.W. Wallis, in his work, Cosmology of the Rig-Veda, informs us that Tvashtar (the first-born creator God in Vedic religion), was the “clever-handed carpenter God” who adorns heaven and earth with forms. Note that Tvashtar was a first-born creator just as Jesus is known to us through scripture, who also created all things.

John 1:3 states,

“All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

And Colossians 1:15 states:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation.”

My point is that both are noted as first-born Gods who created all things. And they are both referenced as carpenters.

Gaskell informs us that a carpenter is a symbol of the Divine Artificer, the One Life which constructs all things. He further instructs us that Spirit (heaven) and matter (earth) are the “artificers pair” from which all things are produced. More importantly, “from [them] aspiration for growth arises.”

Let’s focus on the nomenclature aspiration for a moment.

Spiritually speaking, aspiration is an important term. It signifies the yearning in the soul for something beyond physical life. Something beyond the momentous lifestyle we often lead. Wake up early, go to work, come home and then get ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Caught up in the lower ego, we can find this process to be depressing. Often we have many other responsibilities that can weigh us down. In the wrong frame of mind, these daily duties become a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to have a renewed mind where our everyday lives become a stream of spontaneous moments where we learn and grow spiritually. This process becomes activated when we learn to change our perspective and engage in the process of becoming through present moment awareness and learning about the true self. The Christ, which is the latent potential always there waiting to be activated, is a present reality that all of us on the spiritual path aspire to tap into. This is the spiritual road some of us choose to undertake with this one present life we have.

The Christ, or higher self, is the divine life that manifest from the Father, or primordial consciousness, that is the power to create. According to scripture, the Christ is to be born within us. To put it in layman terms, this is the process whereby higher consciousness is raised from the lower mind to the higher. This process commences through the death of the lower ego. Our aspirations are the source for this process to begin, and, if you are reading this article, you are most likely on the path, as I have been for many years.

Getting Back to Christ as the Carpenter

I had a conversation with Paul Young earlier about Christ as the carpenter, and he had an excellent point to interject. He stated that Christ as the carpenter is also the builder of the temple. The temple as you well know is us. The Apostle Paul states that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is also the temple of God, or God within us. Christ, as the master builder, is also responsible for sending the Holy Spirit, and is the builder of it all.

How befitting for a spiritual carpenter!

Thus we see that the carpenter is the only logical choice for the first-born God that is to LIVE through us. In other words, it is the only logical spiritual choice. The question some of us may be asking right now is whether or not Jesus of the scriptures, as the carpenter, was meant to be literal. I leave you with an important scripture:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

What should we take away from this knowledge?

Whether you regard Jesus as a literal person for which we are look to salvation, or as symbolic figure of Scripture for the process in which man finds salvation, Jesus, as the CARPENTER, is the artificer of a great spiritual work in our life.

Even if you view Jesus as a historical person, we are still commanded to go into our own prayer closet (in meditation, reflection, and prayer) to find Him. Personally, I view this process as the unveiling of the inner Christ. This is still a process that we have to commence in ourselves, with a decision to commit. Belief is simply not enough. We must commit to the process of salvation which is beyond and above a human belief system (separated only be religion), to press onto the goal of salvation. Remember that the next time you are taught the Lord’s Prayer in order to be saved!

Blessings!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kym July 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

Joshua,
I so loved this post! We have to build the foundation on Christ in us, and this returns us to this premise? Yes, there is so much to unravel about this great mystery that we are, but if we get the foundation right, we have a much better chance of “seeing” with correct vision.
I look forward to your posts and appreciate your insight!
Kym

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Joshua July 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Thanks Kym. The foundation is so crucial.

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Robert July 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Josh,

This was a magnificent post, as all of yours have been. This one was short and sweet. I like that you left room for those like me who believe in the historical Christ, and I especially like your comment that when we go into the prayer closet to perform those private spiritual activities that we individually deem as primary and meaningful, that we are unveiling in our individual ways the Christ that is revealed to us and established in us inwardly. That is a very unifying statement which transcends our differences in methods and theology by showing they are pointed to the same higher purpose of salvation.

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Joshua July 18, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Robert,

I appreciate your response. It’s important that we can dialogue even though we have some differences in belief. The Christ within is what we must focus on, even though we might have different perspectives on how the Christ plays out in our lives.

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Chris July 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Great subject and well-handled, Joshua. So glad to be focused on the Good News again.

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Joshua July 18, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Thanks, Christ. I enjoyed writing this one.

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David Gantt July 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm

In Matt 3:2, it states “Repent ye(return back to original state ie Oneness) for the Gospel is at hand.” The Gospel is that God and man are One! “In the beginning God created the heaven(Male) and the earth(Female). Heaven is a circle and earth is a square. Christ as our Carpenter unifies the heaven and earth within us. Heaven and earth reflects the androgynous principle within us ie an archetypical marriage. God is male and female. The Life giver(sperm) and the substance(ovum) bringing forth the Christ nature within us. This is the light of our Salvation! We must be the change in the world or as Paul stated “Let the Christ be formed(shaped) in us.” Life is about become the Christ or in sacred geometry terms “Squaring the Circle.” The true marriage lies within giving birth to the bright and morning star within our hearts. The Christ nature is our dwelling place(habitat or the closet). It is here we move, breathe, and have our well being(electromagnetism).

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Joshua July 20, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Great comments, David.

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David Gantt July 19, 2015 at 10:04 pm

“In the beginning(conception) God(Androgynous Principle)created the heaven(circle) and the earth(square).”

Heaven is the Masculine and the earth is Feminine. The new born state comes in the unification within ourselves. One skill a Carpenter has is the ability to read blueprints. The Christ consciousness is the blueprint of our Salvation. The punchline of the scriptures is the unification of God and Man…”Make me(God) a sanctuary (dwelling place/human body) that I may dwell among you(Human body).” The Spirit of God is the Groom and our bodies are the Bride. The Spirit of God+Our Body=Christ Consciousness. Many names, same experience. This consciousness is the door out of suffering. A lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path. The Manna of Life that nourish my soul. My all in all.

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David Gantt July 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Precept unto precept, line upon line. A little here and a little there.

Isa 28:10

Measure 2wice, cut once.

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Ela July 22, 2015 at 5:10 am

And Paul was a tent maker, which seems to have a lot of symbolic significance as well.

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Joshua Tilghman July 23, 2015 at 10:58 am

Ela,

Good point. The tent is a symbol of the lower mind. Which brings us to Paul. Paul Young pointed out that he believes Paul is a symbol of the subconscious mind which helps give birth to the Christ. This is a subject I am definitely going to explore one day.

Paul is a very interesting subject for me. There is more to him than a simple Pharisee who comes to support Christ teachings. His vision on the Road to Damascus is crucial to understanding what he truly symbolizes. It will be fun to go deep into it.

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Ela July 23, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Joshua,
I understand Paul’s tents as a makeshift provisional dwellings as opposed to the temple which Jesus was furnishing but which turned out to have been too old to be revolutionised and was consequently destroyed to give place to something new that Paul started to build.
I look forward to your article about Paul 🙂

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Joshua July 23, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Ela, another good point. The lower mind has it’s own opinions and ideas which sometimes lead us to greater truth but can also trip us up. The tent as a provisional dwelling is the perfect symbol of the lower mind which is also provisional. Thanks for your comment.

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Ela July 24, 2015 at 4:49 am

However, if we look at Paul’s tents as provisional lower mind you might start to wonder if Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just an overestimated starting point of a very slow transformation of something previously destroyed (exclusive Judaism – if we look at the story from historical or religious points of view – or our higher mind, if we are more interested in esoteric subtleties).
It seems to me the whole story shown in the New Testament needs a more definite resolution than Jesus’ vaguely successful resurrection. To me it’s the apocalypse that finally presents what is hidden (our lower mind – the beast) to our higher mind and only then we are offered a chance to make one out of the two so far divided states of mind (a mystical wedding). Without lower mind we are not truly ourselves, without higher mind we aren’t a useful member of society that can enjoy deep interpersonal relations – it’s the harmonious unity of the two (like the unity of yin and yang) that makes us complete.

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Maryann March 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Good points to reflect on and be reminded of, especially when life wears one down. We are called to a higher life and not let the “hard or bad” things of this world rule. And great that you make reference to prayer time, study time or meditation time- because it takes work on our part too. And again as you make reference to: “… we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is also the temple of God; Christ is the carpenter or the master builder “. I needed that reminder.

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Joshua Tilghman March 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Thanks, Maryann. I enjoyed writing the post as it reminded me as well.

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