The Parable of the rotten timber.
January 31st 2003
Received by H.
I am sure that you remember the parable of the almond tree, which I told you the other day. Of course, there are many more examples of parables used by Jesus in order to make his teachings plain, and which do not figure in the Bible.
In the Urantia Book you may read this:
On this Wednesday afternoon, in the course of his address, Jesus first told his followers the story of the white lily which rears its pure and snowy head high into the sunshine while its roots are grounded in the slime and muck of the darkened soil beneath. “Likewise,” said he, “mortal man, while he has his roots of origin and being in the animal soil of human nature, can by faith raise his spiritual nature up into the sunlight of heavenly truth and actually bear the noble fruits of the spirit.”
It was during this same sermon that Jesus made use of his first and only parable having to do with his own trade - carpentry. In the course of his admonition to “Build well the foundations for the growth of a noble character of spiritual endowments,” he said: “In order to yield the fruits of the spirit, you must be born of the spirit. You must be taught by the spirit and be led by the spirit if you would live the spirit-filled life among your fellows. But do not make the mistake of the foolish carpenter who wastes valuable time squaring, measuring, and smoothing his worm-eaten and inwardly rotting timber and then, when he has thus bestowed all of his labor upon the unsound beam, must reject it as unfit to enter into the foundations of the building which he would construct to withstand the assaults of time and storm. Let every man make sure that the intellectual and moral foundations of character are such as will adequately support the superstructure of the enlarging and ennobling spiritual nature. The aim is to transform the mortal mind and then, in association with that re-created mind, to achieve the evolution of the soul into its immortal destiny. Your spirit nature - the jointly created soul - is a living growth, but the mind and morals of the individual are the soil from which these higher manifestations of human development and divine destiny must spring. The soil of the evolving soul is human and material, but the destiny of this combined creature of mind and spirit is spiritual and divine.”
Both examples, that of the lily and that of the carpenter who works the worm-eaten wood, are authentic. Their interpretation is easy.
The parable of the rotten wood repeats the topic of another allegory: The house built on sand that does not resist the fury of the storms. This is also the common topic in the story of the almond tree that loses its blossoms.
I would like to add — just in case, should there be doubts —that the foundations that Jesus speaks of, in fact, are not “the intellectual and moral foundations of character,” but rather the development of the soul based on the unyielding foundation of Divine Love. This confusion is due to a poor understanding of what is the soul on the part of the authors of the Urantia Book.
As to the profession of carpenter, perhaps the reasons may interest you why Joseph and his family had chosen it:
King David had a numerous offspring from several wives. Polygamy was quite common one thousand years before Christ, and even in Jesus’ time many families used to continue this practice. As it is logical, very soon there were thousands of people who belonged to the House of David, and not all could live as wealthy people in palaces or luxurious homes.
There was an ethical principle among the Jews (and this principle is, of course, still valid):
Even though someone is of noble offspring, if he has fallen into poverty, he must never constitute a burden to others. He has to tighten his belt and exercise a profession. He must not consider any honest profession as being unworthy for him: He may work as an artisan, as a peasant toiling the fields, as a garbage man, whatever it may be. No work is unworthy. What really is unworthy is to say, “I am a great man from a noble family. Care for me and feed me!”
The Jews always remembered that it was the House of David, represented by Solomon, that had built their beautiful Temple in Jerusalem. In gratefulness, they granted the descendants of this family certain privileges. The works in the Temple demanded more manpower than the priests could provide. Apart from rituals, a constant work of maintenance and repair was necessary. A great part of the Temple had been built of timber, beautiful cedars from the Lebanon, supplied originally by king Hiram of Phoenicia. And therefore, for the maintenance of the enormous beams and panels, some descendants of the House of David were employed. Besides, they enjoyed the privilege of using — for their own purposes — the wood of those trees that had been felled and torn apart by the fierce winter storms. In consequence, many of the carpenters of the Temple installed their private workshops in Jerusalem and its surroundings, for example in Bethlehem, and they toiled together with their children as cabinetmakers and carpenters in the private building industry of the city.
Joseph, Jesus’ father, descended from one of these families. Of course, he had nothing to do with Solomon’s original Temple, because it had been destroyed centuries ago. Neither did he participate in the generous reconstruction and amplification of the Second Temple by Herod the Great, but he kept up faithfully the family tradition.
I tell you this story, because I think that this fact is scarcely known, and may perhaps pour a little more light on the Master’s cultural background.
With this, I will finish my message. God bless you.
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013