Mark 6:3 “Is this not
Matthew 13:55 “Is this not the carpenter’s son?”
John 1:26. John
answered them, "I baptize with water; but standing among you, unknown to you,
27. is the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his
28. This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was
29. The next day, he saw Yahshua coming towards him and said, "Look, there is the
lamb of Elohim that takes away the sin of the world.
30. It was of him that I said, `Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me
because he existed before me.'
31. I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptize with
water was so that he might be revealed to Israel."
32. And John declared, "I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from
heaven and rest on him.
33. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said
to me, `The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is
to baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
34. I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of Elohim."
35. The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Yahshua went
36. and John looked towards him and said, "Look, there is the lamb of
37. And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Yahshua.
Lost Years of "Yahshua"
John the Baptizer is standing with
two of his disciples when Yahshua first walks onto the Gospel scene. John had previously described this mystery
man as “The Son of Yahweh.” Now, when
he sees Yahshua from a distance, he points him out to his disciples,
calling him “The Lamb of Yahweh.” John had
previously confessed, “I did not know him.”
Nor in this Gospel is any blood relation between John and Yahshua implied. Rather, the philosophy that under girds the
entire story is that Yahshua existed as the Word (logoV)
in the spiritual realm with the Father since the dawn of eternity; then he
simply appears on the scene out of nowhere. In the second chapter of this Gospel, we see the introduction of
his mother, then later on, the introduction of his brothers. But there’s no
birth story in John’s Gospel – Yahshua just appears out of nowhere (as if
from another dimension).
reports that Yahshua was about fifty years old.
Luke reports that he was about thirty years old when he “appeared,” and
was the son of Joseph (3:23). Luke’s
previous report of Yahshua was at twelve years old, attending the Passover in
Jerusalem with his parents. So there
are a number of years unaccounted for – his teen years through his
twenties. Some have designated these
years as “the lost years” and there are a variety of theories as to where
had ‘disappeared.’ I thought you might
be interested to know where he dwelt in his ‘lost years.’ I’d like to submit my
own idea based primarily on just one little Bible word. Where was he all that time?
idea is that Joseph had a little carpenter shop in the tiny village of
Nazareth, and that Yahshua, as his oldest son, hung around the shop building
cabinets and little wooden trinkets.
Yahshua thus over time became a solid citizen and tradesman there, doing
good deeds and reading the scroll of the prophet in synagogue every Saturday
for twenty some years. Then when he was
thirty, he just exploded with enthusiasm and power.
A newer theory
that follows the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is that Yahshua left Nazareth
at an early age to join the religious
order of the Essenes or some similar group around the Dead Sea near Jerusalem
along with John the Baptizer. There was
a lot of religious activity out in the wilderness, texts were being copied,
scribes educated, religious hermits were doing whatever they do, and there
Yahshua became educated for his ministry before he made his appearance in the
baptismal waters of the Jordan. There
are many similarities between the words Yahshua and of these desert Scrolls,
which scholars say belonged to the baptizing groups of Yahshua’ time. Three of the Gospels report that Yahshua spent
time in the desert to be ‘tested by the devil,’ to pray or to recuperate.
Another theory of
Yahshua’s lost years is gaining popularity, especially within the liberal and New
Age church movements: In 1887,
a Russian war correspondent named Nicholas Notovitch was traveling through
Kashmir and Tibet when he fell off his horse and broke his leg. As he convalesced in a Buddhist monastery
(at Himis), he gained the confidence of the head lama who told him about some
verses in his library indicating that Yahshua had been there too! Gaining access to 244 of these verses,
Notovitch and his successors learned of a young man the Buddhists and Hindus
called Holy (Saint) Isa (ee’sah) who traveled the silk trade route from
Palestine to India to study under the great Yoga masters before returning to
Palestine where he was crucified. Isa,
by the way, means “master” and is very close linguistically to Yahshua’ Aramaic
name, which is Ieshua. Today these
Buddhist verses about Yahshua are available in translation and many believe
they’re a genuine account of Yahshua’ lost years.
have a different idea that’s supported by the text and history. But before I share my ideas with you about
Yahshua and his father Yusef, let me first tell you about me and my father Jack
Me, a Builder?
“Dad” was in
Germany in the Army when I was born.
When he returned in 1955, he went into business with his father, who was
a real estate broker. My father had a
natural gift for building, fixing things, plumbing, masonry, electrical work
and drafting. Although he never went to
school to learn any of these skills, when I was a little boy, Dad built entire
houses from the ground up, doing all the work himself to save money. His father bought a large plot of
land outside our town, named it “Country Club Acres,” and my father began to
build houses on it in 1956. This area
is still known as “The Country Club” but is no longer rural. Today, thousands of homes stand on that
ground, including the ones my father built.
I was often the
only one on the work site with Dad, even as a child. I can remember being five or seven years old and standing in
front of a pile of joist supports (short 1 x 2 boards) with a hammer and nails
in my hands. When I wasn’t in school, I
was often at work with him, especially in summers.
In the 1960s, Dad
invented a new way of building scales for trucks and trains, and we began to go
on the road, staying on some jobs for weeks at a time. At an early age, I got to see Detroit,
Cleveland, Atlanta, Chattanooga, New York and many small towns I can’t
remember. I also went to
Gettysburg. But usually, we would see
only the work site, the trailer or motel room we stayed in, and the inside of a
fast food restaurant. We met lots of
people and experience many unusual situations.
I learned a lot in these travels.
When we’d finish a job, he loved it like a child. He took great pride in doing a job right and
always gave his best. This carried over
into his mission work later on.
(The latest photo
I have of him was on his fifty-ninth and last birthday. For years, he’d been dying by degrees from
heart failure, yet just before the photo was snapped, he was hanging off the
third floor stud wall of a mission building in Haiti, holding on with one hand
and swinging a hammer with the other.
It was pointed out in his eulogy that he had been a very strong person
with the skill to accomplish anything he set out to do.)
By the time I was
nineteen, I had muscles of steel, but I hadn’t learned a thing about the building
business in all those years with Dad.
My mind was always on music or philosophy, my natural inclinations. But Dad thought everyone that worked for him
ought to be a natural builder like himself, and he frequently let me
know what a poor helper I was. And he
was right. I was no good at it. Finally, he secured me other
employment in our town and encouraged me to leave his construction
company. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a happy day for me. I worked hard for his business, but was
never cut out for it. My father, an
expert at building technology, finally realized that I’d never take over
the company, and he let me go. (It was
my youngest brother Phil that was a natural builder, and the company continues
in his name.)
What does my story
have to do with the lost years of Yahshua?
Now I’ll show you. Consider how
the people of Nazareth referred to Yahshua’ father in Matthew 13:55 “Is this not
the carpenter’s son?” Also consider how
these same people referred to Yahshua in Mark 6:3 “Is this not the
carpenter?” Both Joseph and Yahshua, his
oldest son, are now thought to have been ‘carpenters.’ But were they carpenters? In the earliest language of the Gospel we
have, the people are actually saying, “Is this not the
Is a tektwn a carpenter? Well, not necessarily.
“Carpenter” is an
early English translation that just stuck in these verses all these years. It’s quaint and homey to think of Joseph and
Yahshua in their tiny village carpentry shop fashioning Christmas tree
ornaments. We have a word today that’s
an exact replication of
tektwn may be more accurately translated as “builder” or
“contractor” or “building technician” than “carpenter.” I can’t imagine Joseph or Yahshua as simple village
woodcarvers. I think Joseph was a building
technologist like my father. Here’s
why. Joseph had a large family to
support – a wife, four sons and two daughters.
He could hardly manage that burden in a poor town fashioning wooden toys
for children. Matthew’s first two
chapters show us that Joseph traveled a great deal. And Matthew says that Joseph was a righteous man (i.e. an
intelligent man). His patron, Yahweh,
had given him the ability to be a natural-born
- a building technologist – so he could adequately support that special, holy
You see, there was
a desperate need in Palestine during the time of Yahshua’ youth for skilled
builders. Nazareth was a tiny
village on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Sepphoris, one of
King Herod’s headquarters. At about the
time of Yahshua’ birth, the Jews in Sepphoris rebelled, and Varus, the governor
of Syria, sent troops that destroyed the city.
Afterward, Herod (Antipas) decided to rebuild Sepphoris as a showcase. The rebuilding effort coincided exactly with
Yahshua’ teens and twenties. Hundreds of
artisans and technologists from all over Palestine were brought in to work in
the reconstruction business. What about
the firm of Joseph and Sons of Nazareth only five miles away? I’m certain that they were among the
rebuilders of Sepphoris. Remember the
Isaiah 58:12. You
shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the
repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in?
After it’s rebuilding, Sepphoris became known as “the
ornament of the Galilee” and was the most fortified city in the region
(Josephus). Surely it was to Sepphoris
that Yahshua was referring when he said, “A city set on a hill can’t be
hidden.” He’d seen that city since
girth just up the hill from Nazareth
Archaeologists have excavated Sepphoris. They have made amazing discoveries. When I found myself seated in the stands of the ruined but still
very impressive theater in the heart of what’s left of Sepphoris, I felt like
the twenty year-old Yahshua surely worked here, surely saw the actors
rehearsing as he worked, surely compared these actors, playing roles, to the religious
bigots of his day. Later, he called
the Scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites,” which, as you may know, is a Greek word
(`upokritai) that literally
There were also
hundreds of great and beautiful mansions and a civic center to be rebuilt in
Sepphoris. I think of the restoration
of these great edifices when I hear Yahshua’ famous words, “In my father’s house
are many mansions. I go to
[build] one for you.” Yahshua, trained as
tektwn, may well have had the
mansions of Sepphoris in mind when he made the promise.
Further, when in
Matthew 16:18 Yahshua promises that “on this rock I will build my
assembly,” he uses the interesting verb
for “I will build,” which literally means, “I will construct a house.” (“Oiko-“
means “house.”) Here is one more of
many interesting references to building.
If Joseph and
Yahshua were employed in Sepphoris as builders, they were certainly also called
to other places where great building projects were being conducted; for many
such were going forth at that time: the Herods were known as the greatest
builders in history. Even the
construction of the temple in Jerusalem was in full swing when
Yahshua was a young man. When he told his
disciples, “See these great stones?” he might have actually helped place them.
On the Road
As I mentioned
before, being on the road with my father and later, as a young man, on the road
playing music, I had opportunities to see and do and learn things that others
may not do in a lifetime. Travel is a
great educator. You don’t have to be
rich to travel; you just need to make your way as you go – to paddle your own
canoe down the river.
Why is Joseph so
little mentioned in the Gospels? Did he
die prematurely? Maybe he was just on
the road a lot, just like my father was.
The holy family didn’t see much of him – and there was obviously
resentment about having an absentee father and brother. (See John 10, for instance.) However, traveling as they did provided a far
better education than that of the Nazareth synagogue school. Yahshua learned not only Hebrew, but also the
Greek language that was used for business and the Latin language of his Roman
overlords. I’m certain Yahshua could
read, write and calculate – wasn’t he the Son of Yahweh? He found favor with people, business people, people in hotels, in
bars, big city people – workers, prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners; he
learned compassion and he made some people mad.
And maybe, because
he had this kind of education and disassociation with the local
synagogue early on, he also avoided acquiring the hateful kind of religious
bigotry and inflexibility of his chief antagonists. Maybe part of the reason he was made to become the Lamb of
Yahweh, the final blood sacrifice for sin, was because he was just a cut above the
ignorant hypocrites that ruled Judaism, a little more open-minded than the
religious elite, a little more cosmopolitan than the Nazareth bumpkins, a
little more compassionate than the philosophers of Greece, a little more
zealous than the patriots, a little more righteous than the saints. Maybe the whole accumulation of resentment
and hatred against Yahweh and all gods was finally directed against this Son
because he followed his calling as a prophet rather than profiting from
assuming the family business. His
building skills might have been less than adequate, but his genius resided in
other areas, and he followed his star rather than do what others expected.
More Lost Years
My friends, we have just filled in
the lost years of Yahshua’ youth; but what of the lost years since his resurrection? What about the last 1970 years he’s been
gone? Sure, we’re told know he’s in
heaven interceding before the Father and building mansions in the sky. He’s a good enough carpenter for that. We also know that he’ll come home to our
town some day, and probably very soon.
But will we know him when he returns to earth?
There is a popular
bumper sticker I see all the time – “I work for a Jewish carpenter.” Have you seen that? A Jewish carpenter is who some people are
looking for. But remember, when he
came back to Nazareth after a long stay away, working with is father, the “Lamb
of Yahweh” wasn’t even recognized in his hometown! “Isn’t this the Jewish carpenter?” they
wondered. “Then where did he get all
this?” “He shall be called a
Nazarene,” said the prophet. The
Nazarenes should have recognized one they claimed as their own. But they couldn’t. He wasn’t what they expected at all.
I wonder, will we
ask ourselves the same dumb question that these Nazarene did? When he returns as the “Lion of Judah” with
his angels, saintly hosts, heavenly lights and winnowing fork, will we ask in
bewilderment, “Is this the Jewish carpenter?
Where did he get all this?”
December 14, 2002