shedding new light on stories of old

Fish Tales (From the Belly of the Whale) - Preview 14

Find out the real story of Jesus’ family background and upbringing prior to His rise to prominence

Misconception #41

Jesus was Just a Poor Carpenter’s Son before His Real Ministry Began

Everyone loves a good “rags to riches” story, so what better way to attract attention to the life of Jesus than by plugging His story into this tried-and-true plotline. You know the sort of thing: Local boy makes good in spite of the odds against him; down-and-out-but-lovable oaf rises to the top of his game; so on and so forth.

In this case, our story runs as follows: Jesus of Nazareth was soon to be born into a poor, humble family that was desperately searching for a place to give birth to their first child. Eventually, they wound up, starving and cold, in a manger, where their baby was born alongside an odd assortment of scruffy farm animals. Fortunately for them, however, they received some much-needed handouts from another group of wanderers, a trio of Wise Men, who offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In time—so the story continues—the child grew up and followed in the footsteps of his aged father, becoming a carpenter, with the two of them eking out a living as merely adequate woodworkers. Eventually, Joseph died and left the family business to Jesus, which He continued to run until His fateful encounter with His cousin, John the Baptist, who then anointed the lowly carpenter as the newly instated king of Israel.

Now that’s what I call a story arc! Even Hollywood couldn’t dream up one to beat that.

But tell me: Do you think a plotline as dramatic as that is really in The Bible? Sad to say, you can look all you want, but it just isn’t there.

To which the rabid believers vehemently howl in protest: “How dare you question the Holy Scriptures!”

(…you’re reading Part 26 of a 41-part series. If you like what you’re reading and want to continue, please SCROLL DOWN. Or to read this series from the beginning, go to Part 1…)
Story Continues Below
To hear Kent and Zen Garcia talk about correcting biblical misconceptions, from September 9th, 2021, CLICK BELOW.
Story Continues From Above

In my defense, though, as I’ve consistently done to this point, I’m not questioning The Bible itself. I’m questioning a watered-down version of it—courtesy of the three laws of disinformation. Now, I do admit, core elements of the plot can be found within the pages of Holy Writ, but unfortunately, the rest of the story as we’ve come to remember it has been embellished for dramatic effect.

How, then, do we dissect the truth from the embellishments in order to rescue the reality of what the Scriptures say about the life of Christ? Fortunately, the answer, as usual, lies in a thorough examination of what The Bible says in terms of its original language and context. In other words, to get at the truth, we first accurately translate the passages that speak of the pertinent aspects of Jesus’ life, and then we restore the story to its original form. Here we go, then.

The second chapter of The Gospel of Luke records that Joseph and Mary were responding to a decree of Augustus Caesar, which ordered everyone living in the Roman territories to go to the birthplace of their family and pay their taxes. And because Joseph and Mary were both descendants of King David, they went to Bethlehem to perform their duties as tax-paying citizens. There, Mary came to term with their child, and trying to rent a room for the evening in a local inn, they were turned away, only to find refuge in a nearby stable.1 It was not until sometime later—as Matthew described Jesus as a being a young child by then—that the Three Wise Men, seeking the king of the Jews, arrived to deliver their birthday gifts.2

In time, the boy Jesus grew up, and like most sons at that time He followed in the footsteps of His elderly father, apprenticing in the family business. In this more-accurate version, though, Joseph wasn’t a simple woodworker, because, in fact, wood was a rare commodity in a desert landscape like Palestine. As it so happens, the Greek word used in Matthew 13 and Mark 6 for “carpenter,” which is tekton, can just as easily be translated as “architect” or “master builder.” What this means is, a tekton is someone who’s not only skilled in making furniture but houses and temples, too. And because wood was so scarce in that part of the country, this meant that a master builder would’ve more often than not been working with stone, as would a mason.

Then, upon the death of His father, Jesus wasn’t left to His own devices for very long, because soon afterward, His great uncle—His mother Mary’s uncle, actually—Joseph of Arimathea, took Him under his wing.

According to many historical accounts, this Joseph was by no means a poor man himself, having established quite a reputation as a merchant of precious metals. It’s well known that Uncle Joseph and his royal nephew spent much of their time sailing up and down the frontier coastlands between Palestine and the British Isles. This was the period of Jesus’ life referred to as “the lost years,” that time from the age of twelve, when He astounded everyone in the Temple, to the age of thirty, when He reappeared to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. It was during those formative years that Jesus, like Moses before Him, was a man-in-training, in this case, traveling with his influential uncle. To this day, Britons still sing of Joseph, the tin merchant, of Jesus walking on England’s pleasant pastures, and of the legendary deeds of that famous duo.

With all the preceding in mind, then, several things immediately jump out at us.

So ends this Preview of FISH TALES (FROM THE BELLY OF THE WHALE). To read more, please click on one of the following links:

To continue with this series, read an Excerpt to see that far from being a pauper’s son, Jesus was known to have been born into a family of considerable note.

Read the Next Preview to find out why Jesus wasn’t as concerned as His troubled disciples about Roman tyranny.

Read the Next Excerpt to see that God’s Kingdom was never supposed to be established through force of arms as the disciples had anticipated.

Read the Previous Preview to learn the truth about God’s purpose in creating the stars and the forces that keep humanity from understanding it.

Read the Previous Excerpt to see that the first time the Scriptures refer to a “sign,” it’s used in relation to the stars God placed in the Heavens.

To read this series from the beginning, go to the First Preview to see if you can tell the difference between a genuine message from The Bible and a counterfeit version.

To hear Kent talk more about his book Fish Tales (From the Belly of the Whale), CLICK HERE.
To get a copy of Fish Tales (From the Belly of the Whale), CLICK HERE.
To hear an audio presentation of this chapter of Fish Tales, CLICK HERE.
Selected Bibliography

1. Luke 2:1-7

2. Matthew 2:1-12