I wish to introduce to you a unique personality, though he can hardly be reckoned as an ordinary mortal. He was a Jew and a professional Carpenter. No other personality in history had been as controversial as He is.
No other persons had been more prominent after their death than before their death. No other person had had as many middle or other names as He has. Among His middle or other names are The Man of Galilee; The Lion of the tribe of Judah; the root of David; the Bright and Morning Star; the Ancient of Days; etc. More people had sacrificed their lives for this Man than for any other cause in history. Because He is the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, He could confidently declare that He was before Abraham even though He was apparently about 33 years old then.
2.0 One glorious day, He stepped out of eternity into time and became the Man of Calvary in order to achieve His unique mission of redemption. For years, we may be seeking Him in vain in the wrong places until out of compassion one day he would touch and raise us out of the miry clay in the “Far Country”, giving us a revelation of His divine love.
What a foretaste of glory divine! At that moment, time definitely stood still while all earthly teachers held their peace so that only the former Jewish Carpenter Himself could speak to us. All doubts and skepticism vanished at that instant like vapour beneath the rising Sun. A replica of the experience of the singing King David’s last words in 2 Sam. 23: 4, which William Cowper later captured in one of his hymns:
“…It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings;
….He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain”.
Calendar changed for his sake
3.0 This Jewish Carpenter is the real News on the hour! For His sake, calendars changed to B.C. and A.D., and yet He lived on a borrowed existence. Mary, Martha, and other women ministered to His needs. He was born in a borrowed manger. When was about to die, He rode on a borrowed ass, like a typical “Okada” not even on a horse, not to talk of a chariot [typical limousine or 2021 Range Rover ] and held The Last Supper with His disciples in a borrowed Upper Room.
At His death, he was buried in a borrowed tomb. He lived “wifeless” childless and homeless. Foxes have holes but the son of Man had no place of His own [ Luke 9:58- NLT], though he had places where to lay His head from time to time. Please regard other translations as correct but as figures of speech. I don’t think our Lord along with His disciples were sleeping on the bare roads or under the bridges. Now 2000 years after, kings bow and kingdoms tremble at the mention of His matchless name.
4.0 His demands on His disciples is unique and unequivocal. He demands total reverential allegiance or none at all. Little wonder the saintly Andrew Murray used to read 1 Corinthians 13 on his knees every day; George Mueller read the Bible on his knees 200 times while the erudite professor C. S. Lewis set aside his excellent career at Cambridge to give up his remaining lifetime to serve the Man of Calvary.
Engrossed and enraptured in his Master’s service, the thought of marriage eluded his thoughts until he was well into his fifties. Dr. John Sung who completed his first degree within two years with first-class, Master’s in six months at the top of his set, a doctorate in nine months, completed 3-year Bible College training in 9 months with all-round distinctions and later consciously threw all his degree certificates up to the doctorate into the Atlantic Ocean not to be tempted to return to a lecturership and to devoted his entire life to the Christian ministry; declaring that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel and not to lecture anymore
Josephus testified about him
5.0 The Jewish Carpenter truly lived. The Bible states so. A Jewish historian, Josephus who lived about the time of the Jewish Carpenter testified about Him in his classic, The Complete Works of Josephus. So secular history also testified. The Man died but rose again, divinely giving a decisive “penalty kick” to the heavy stone erected by man to seal the tomb donated by Joseph of Arimathea. After Mary Magdalene reaffirmed Him as the Rabboni, unnoticed by anyone, He ascended to the Father, oblivious to the law of gravity.
6.0 Within the space of 50 days, He transversed heaven and earth at will, even defying locked doors. He seemed to delight in defying the law of gravity, having literally walked on the turbulent and unpredictable Sea of Galilee- the sea whose bed is laid a beautiful flint-stones.
He finally ascended to heaven bodily and visibly before witnesses in a pneumatic air-bus -Acts 1:11. One day, He will again land visibly, bodily, dramatically [Rev. 1:7; Zech. 14:4 ] on the same Mt. Olives, presently adorned by shrubs and tender plants. Enoch, who died about 3,420 years ago was privileged with the divine telescope to view the second coming of the erstwhile Jewish Carpenter- Jude 14.
7.0 What a great privilege for Enoch, the man who walked with God! Even Moses and Isaiah, who came centuries after him were not privileged to see farther than the first coming of our Lord- Deut. 18:18-19, Isa. 9:6. Then the mountain will split into two parts from the East down to the West. If I’m in His shoes, I will likely not return to Gethsemane for Gethsemane is reminiscent of painful memory.
Those ancient plants in the garden with their twisted trunks are still represented as the Jewish Carpenter left them over 2000 years ago as if awaiting our Lord’s second coming and as if so restitute the previous experience but these will not be as privileged as Peter who denied the Lord thrice but whom the Lord gave the opportunity to make restitution by confession of love thrice- John 21:15-17. In a sense, each confession for each denial!
Col. Jim Irvin, first American astronaut to the moon met him
8.0 This man is worth meeting here and hereafter. The first American astronaut to the moon, Col. Jim Irvin met him on the moon and he was never the same again. He sooner gave up the space exploration and became a herald of the coming King. If we are still of the same orientation, attitudes, and disposition as when we were young, the likelihood is that we have never really encountered Him, if even one is a bishop or a General Overseer.
9.0 Friends, have you really encountered him? You just have to or else all is lost. He is the only divinely approved Carpenter who can saw, chisel, and hammer our life situations and destiny into proper shape for ultimate joy, peace, and fulfillment. Let me finally let you into the secret. His name is J-E-S-U-S, Yeshua at birth. One whose wisdom is unmatched since Adam-John 7:46. And He is the Lord, the Lord of the Universe. “In Him, all things were created: in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him, all things [consist] hold together”-Colossians 1: 16-17
10.0 His uniqueness is established by His walking on the sea, multiplying loaves of bread to feed thousands of people, and rising from the dead after three days. The only man since Adam who boasted in advance and ventured to rise up after three days of his burial was De Lawrence. But as the earth cracked with tremor after the three days for him to emerge, thunderstruck and he perished. Apart from being in us by the Holy Spirit, His present habitation is infinitely beyond the stars. Can one fathom how far away that is? Let us share a few insights.
There are about a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Our own galaxy called The Milky Way contains about 400 billion stars. The Sun can conveniently contain a million Earths, while a star, named Eta Carinae located 54,000,000,000,000,00 miles away is as massive as 100-200 million Earths.
The star nearest to us is 26 trillion miles away. In February 2004, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology discovered an object at a distance of 78,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away! And the omnipresent Lord whose abode is taken to be beyond the stars will transverse this awesome spatial distance in the twinkling of an eye at His second coming. Who can fathom such an awesome unimaginable velocity?
In Him, all things consist
11.0 And because by Him all things consist, and was part of the Trinity of which God declared “Let There Be Light” in the very beginning of beginnings, He could back up Joshua to accomplish the will of God by causing the sun and moon to stand still over Gibeon and over the valley of Aijalon for 24 hours, as reported in the book of Jasher- Joshua 10:12-14. In His sovereignty, He backed David when he decreed a curse on the Mountains of Gilboa on which Saul died- 2 Sam. 1:21.
According to the book of Jasher [2 Sam. 1:17], David ordered that the lament concerning Saul in 2 Sam. 1:19-27 be taught to the people of Judah. Till today about 3,000 years after, in compliance with 2 Sam. 1:21, nothing grows on the Mountains of Gilboa even though all other mountains surrounding the Mountains of Gilboa are flourishing. The government made efforts to re-engineer the tops of the mountains of Gilboa but it had so far been futile. Where and who is that scientist, whose breath is in his nostrils to reverse an irreversible as ordained by the omnipotent Sovereign God?
12.0 Once again I want to restate that in view of the supreme price He paid for our redemption, due to His undying love for this dying world, our Lord demands total allegiance to Him. We should tremble to reflect that, of the entire world in the generation of Noah, only eight souls made it into the Ark, which, though some theological opinions suggested it took about 100 years to build, however, according to the Book of Jasher Chapter 5 verse 35, it took him and his artisans’ intensive labour of five years to build. Ironically, none of those who were employed in the building of the Ark entered into it.
Does this not somehow signify the possibility of one labouring in building a ministry and be disqualified from the eternal kingdom? Of the entire inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, where ten righteous people could not be found, only two persons escaped the fire and brimstone and made it to Zoar. Even the half-hearted wife of Bishop Lot looked back towards Sodom and became a pillar of salt. Over two million Israelites set out from Goshen in Egypt but only two among the over 20’s – Caleb and Joshua- reached the Promised Land. These divine ratios are food for thought!
13.0 Paul might have pondered on these divine ratios that he chose to endure the unparalleled harrowing experiences in 2 Corinthians 11: 22-33 and to declare that “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. As if that was not enough to establish his all-out, irrevocable, irreversible commitment to God, He told all who care to listen that, “God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of that cross, my interest in all the attractive things of the world has been killed long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead” -Galatians 6:14 [Living Bible]. My God! What was intoxicating and propelling this man, Paul that he regarded all his worldly laurels and outstanding achievements as cabbage.
To a certain degree, it must have been the same excess of the “new wine” that made Dr. John Sung to deliberately threw all his outstanding certificates up to doctorate degree into the Atlantic Ocean, so as to make a decisive break with lecturing to devote his life fully to the service of his Lord. Please, my beloved friends, accept him now with burning zeal and consuming passion so that you may earnestly expect Him then. God bless you. Shalom!
Olatokunbo Odunuga is an elder in the Redeemed Christian Church of God