Mark 6.3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. [nkjv]
Nicky Cruz wasn’t even 4 years old when his heart turned to stone. As one of 18 children born to witchcraft-practicing parents from Puerto Rico, bloodshed and mayhem were common occurrences in his life. He suffered severe physical and mental abuse at their hands, at one time being declared the “Son of Satan” by his mother while she was in a spiritual trance.When he was 15, Nicky’s father sent him to visit an older brother in New York. Nicky didn’t stay with his brother long. Instead, full of anger and rage, he chose to make it on his own.
Tough, but lonely, by age 16 he became a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus (named after a bloodthirsty African tribe). Within six months he became their leader. Cruz fearlessly ruled the streets as warlord of one of the gangs most dreaded by rivals and police. Lost in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and brutal violence, his life took a tragic turn for the worse after a friend and fellow gang member was horribly stabbed and beaten and died in Nicky’s arms.
As Cruz’ reputation grew, so did his haunting nightmares. Arrested countless times, a court-ordered psychiatrist pronounced Nicky’s fate as “headed to prison, the electric chair, and hell.”
No authority figure could reach Cruz – until he met a skinny street-preacher named David Wilkerson. He disarmed Nicky – showing him something he’d never known before: Relentless love. His interest in the young thug was persistent. Nicky beat him up, spit on him and, on one occasion, seriously threatened his life, yet the love of God remained – stronger than any adversary Nicky had ever encountered.
Finally, Wilkerson’s presentation of the gospel message and the love of Jesus melted the thick walls of his heart. Nicky received the forgiveness, love and new life that can only come through Jesus. Since then, he has dedicated that life to helping others find the same freedom.
At church last year, our pastor preached an amazing message titled, ‘Jesus still changes lives!’. This carpenter who lived 2000 years ago in a remote part of the world is still in the business of changing people’s lives.
As a carpenter, Jesus would have learned a few things. He learned that there is potential hidden within an ordinary log. He would have learned that it takes work and time to draw out that potential and make something usable. And just like Nicky Cruz’s story reminds us, He would have learned that the finest things are made from the hardest wood.
There are so many hurting people on this earth waiting for a carpenter, just like Jesus, to walk up to them and tell them that they are loved, there is hope and that Jesus can change their life.