There are several parts of the biblical story where technology plays an important role, but perhaps none is more fascinating than its place in the life of Jesus.
Jesus the Technologist
In the Gospels, Jesus (Mark 6:3) and his father (Matt 13:55) are referred to with by their job title, tekton (τέκτων) which in Greek means “artisan or skilled worker” and serves as the root of our English word technology. Tradition has it that the kind of skilled work that Joseph and Jesus did was carpentry, so tekton is always translated as “carpenter.”
Jesus could have done any number of jobs from farming to shepherding any of which might have had rich symbolism for his role as the Son of God. But it is interesting that in God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty that Jesus’s job was that of a creator and that things he created were used against him in his death.
Studies on crucifixion focus typically focus on two important factors. First, crucifixion finds its roots in the Pagan world in contrast to other forms of execution like stoning which would have been more easily associated with the Jews. The fact that Jesus was crucified by Romans instead of stoned by Jews situates his work in the context of all humanity. Second, crucifixion itself causes terrible suffering over a long period of time and this has been a rich source of Christian reflection on the sufferings of Christ and his love for us.
But I’d like to suggest a third reason why the cross is important. Jesus could have been killed using more natural means like drowning, stoning, or being cast from a cliff. He could have been thrown to the lions or strangled to death.
Instead, he was killed on a tool of human creation.
The Cross as a Symbol of the Creation
Jesus, the eternal Son of God, through whom all things were made was rejected by his highest creation, humanity. The Gospel of John says, “He came unto his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11).
At the same time, Jesus, the Incarnate Son of Man, through whom all men are saved, was killed using the very tools with which he worked, wood and nails. He was made to literally carry the burden of what he created through the streets of the city until his body could bear it no more. All the while he was bearing the transgressions of his creation that he might offer them atonement for their sins and adoption into his family.
Of course, the cross itself is not magical. Neither is the tomb from which Jesus emerged, triumphant and glorified for it is through Christ and Christ’s work alone that we are saved.
But the cross is a reminder of the important role that the tools we create play in the story of God and his people. The things we use on a daily basis are deeply integrated into what it means to be human and what it means for God to redeem his creation.