Tekton, Carpenter, Artisan

“‘Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3, NIV).

We’ve grown up hearing that Jesus was the son of a carpenter (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) and that He Himself probably did some carpentry before He began His public ministry. But you may be surprised to know that the ancient Greek word translated “carpenter” (tektōn) is a word related to our modern term, “technology.”

Long before we had computers for video chats on Christmas day or microwaves to warm up leftover turkey, the Greek concepts of “technology” (teknia) and “technologist” (tektōn) referred not to machines and gadgets, but to artisans—people with rough hands who created beautiful and useful things. There were no IKEA factories to pump out thousands of identical tables; there were only individuals who carefully crafted each unique table one by one with their own tools. As He grew up, this is what Jesus would have watched His father do.

But before He became an incarnate tektōn, John tells us that it was through the eternal Son of God that “All things came into being” (John 1:3, NASB), and the apostle Paul says that we are Christ’s “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). So it seems that Jesus has been a kind of artisan since eternity past, fearfully and wonderfully crafting every atom in the universe, even knitting us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

And yet John also tells us that Jesus’ own precious creations “did not receive Him” (John 1:11). The creations had become dark and twisted, bent on their Creator’s destruction. And what did they do to Him? They used the very material with which Jesus’ earthly father had worked—wood and nails—twisting them into a tool of death, using the creation against the Creator.

But Jesus transformed all of this, didn’t He? He took twisted and broken hearts and redeemed them for His glory. And, He took a twisted and broken tree (a “technology of death”), and transformed it into the enduring symbol of our faith. What an artist!