Associates for Biblical Research: Jesus the Tekton
The new cultural centre looks magnificent, writes Rev Sydney Maitland. Visually impressive but without being garish or over-dominant, and finished in the best materials. Lighting is superb and all the equipment to support the forthcoming events you could dream of. Not only that, but it was completed on time and on budget. Now that really is an achievement.
The honours go to the body that developed the idea, appointed the architect and who will manage it. The architect is there to acknowledge the crowd and the management team is trying not to look too smug.
But we forget that it did not build itself. There may have been plenty of computer assisted design and management of materials, but no, someone had to dig out the site and decontaminate it from its previous use. Someone had to supervise the installation of the water supply and drains, the power and broadband cables. Someone had to set up the moulds, pour the concrete and check the process. They had to ensure that all the floors fitted the framing, that all the connections worked and were safe. They had to insert the bolts and screws and all the other fixings. And no this was not just about running around in the now fashionable hard hat and hi-viz jackets.
Whoever got the credit for designing, financing, building and commissioning the centre, there was still an unbelievable amount of effort is bringing the plans to their fulfilment.
This may all be a bit overdone but the point is simple: no matter how glamorous and prominent the overall direction of the project, it still had to be brought to completion by work on the ground. Yet the interesting thing was that Jesus was known as the carpenter’s son. But he may have been more than that: a general builder, skilled in stonework as well as woodwork. A ‘Tekton’: multi-skilled and probably multi-tasking.
He chose as His disciples men from a variety of backgrounds – fishermen, a tax collector, maybe some semi-retired, and people of varying cultural and political preferences. All but one stayed with Him as He led them into a new set of relationships and loyalties. And this was not just a fair-weather relationship – if they had to go hungry and sleep under the stars, then they did. To be with Jesus was far more than an apprenticeship – it was a whole-life commitment, learning life again and from the bottom of society upwards.
But as Paul tells us, the life of the church required all members to be involved. There were no passengers or spectators – there may have been many who were interested and intrigued in what the church had to say and how it lived, but members of the church were all seen as part of its life rather than consumers or an audience.
Some are known to history – most are known unto God. All are valued and in a society which relishes the social competition in which the winners are honoured and the losers are humiliated, this is an important difference.
So going back to the cultural centre: all who had any role in its design and construction are important in the sight of God. The works of all will be known and acknowledged, as each has responded to the challenges of life. The nature of salvation is that it is given to all who seek it – but that is just the beginning as each of us is then brought into further realms of faith and commitment, as God our Father meets us and challenges us, pruning off the unfruitful parts of our lives so that they might be more fruitful yet.
It is not just that Jesus is the tekton. He also says that ‘My Father is the gardener’. Any you – we – are the branches of the vine which He is careful to tend and to prune.