What does Mark 6:3 mean?This statement is worded slightly differently than the equivalent in Matthew's narrative. Mark says, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…" while Matthew 13:55 says, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?" The differences, though minor, have raised a few points of debate.
One issue which arises here actually relates to Jesus' appearance: was Jesus "attractive" or not? Some teachers say Jesus couldn't have been a carpenter because Isaiah 53:2b says, "…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him." "Carpenter" is from the Greek root word tekton and can mean someone who is skilled in wood, metal, or stone. A carpenter might craft bowls or furniture or build stone sheds. In other words, a carpenter would have been strong and physically in shape, which we might consider attractive. So, these teachers claim, this verse must mean that Jesus was the son of a carpenter, not a carpenter, Himself.
Besides being somewhat shallow, this claim doesn't take into account cultural differences. Jesus would have been strong, but while the Jews valued hard work, they didn't necessarily think that someone who performed hard labor was attractive. Attractiveness depended more on money than muscles, and a rich man with servants to do his bidding would be softer and weaker. Although we today might find "beauty" in a strong craftsman, Jesus' culture would have found "no form or majesty that we should look at him." There is no reason Isaiah 53:2b couldn't describe someone physically strong who worked with his hands.
Second, some argue over the difference between calling Jesus "the son of a carpenter and Mary" versus "a carpenter, the son of Mary." The idea that calling Jesus "the son of Mary" has particular significance is an old one. The most popular theory is that identifying a grown man by his mother, rather than his father, was an ancient-era way of calling him illegitimate. Catholicism, on the other hand, uses the phrase to support their belief that Jesus is Mary's only son. This would imply the brothers and sisters mentioned are from Joseph's first, late wife. Most likely, however, it is just a progression. Jesus is identified by His job—culturally, passed from His father (Matthew 13:55)—and His mother, His brothers, and His sisters. The terms used merely show that He and His family are well known to the people of Nazareth.
We know two of Jesus' brothers. James—not the brother of John, son of Zebedee—becomes the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the author of the book of James. Judas—not Judas Iscariot—learns to believe in Jesus, as well, and writes the book of Jude.
At this time, however, Jesus' brothers are not inclined to defend Him. "Offense" comes from the Greek root word skandalizo. It means a stumbling block that causes someone to sin or to distrust another. Jesus expounds on this theme in Matthew. There, He calls Himself a capstone on God's plan of salvation that the religious leaders stumble on, making it impossible for them to receive Him (Matthew 21:42–26). Luke explains that the people of Nazareth aren't just doubtful; they try to push Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:28–30).