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"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross" (Acts 2:23).
The Tremont Nail Company in Wareham, Massachusetts, is the oldest continuously operating nail manufacturer in the United States, making nails since the early 1800's and they're still stamping them out! When I lived in New England I would periodically drive by the Company and, although they didn’t have plant tours, I recall curiously looking through the windows to watch. The nails they manufacture are not the round kind we typically see, but square, peg-like. At the little country gift store across the street I bought three of the longest ones I could find. I still have them though I misplaced one. Holding these nails, rubbing my fingers across their coarse surface, and considering their lethal purpose in Christ's crucifixion illustrates more vividly the price Jesus paid for our redemption.
King David provided "a large amount of iron to make nails for the doors of the gateways and for the fittings" of the Temple (I Chronicles 22:3). Until the end of the 18th century, they were made by hand; an artisan known as a Nailer providing them with a head and point. We have no photographs nor are details given regarding the nails that affixed our Savior to the cross, but they were likely iron spikes five to seven inches long. In the daily text the action of nailing our Lord to the cross is taken from the Greek word "prospegnumi” and literally means “to impale.” Did you notice that the English word "peg" is in the middle of the Greek word? How indescribably horrible this form of death was.
To partially identify with the humanity of Christ, perhaps in a rather basic way, I recall getting splinters in my hands and feet when I played outdoors as a child. I dreaded telling my mom, for I knew she would want to dig it out and it would be a painful process. But if she could find a needle with a very sharpened small point the pain was less than a needle with a large point. To this day if I have a splinter I will carefully select a sharp pointed needle to lessen the pain of the piercing required for the needle to prick my skin.
Certainly Christ felt the physical agony of those long, thick, spikes driven into His hands and feet, in addition to the other horrible wounds He received. But surely He also felt another type of pain or “nail” as He hung on that Cross for our sins.
1. The nail of blasphemy: This was demonstrated by the soldiers, the thieves crucified beside Him, the religious officials and the onlookers as recorded in Matthew 27:27-44. They mocked and hurled insults at Him, blaspheming the very One who willingly laid down His life for their sins. The opposite of blasphemy is worship and we are called to worship the Lord John 4:23-24.
2. The nail of rejection: This was demonstrated by the “other” unrepentant crucified criminal who hung on a cross beside Christ as recorded in Luke 23:39. He rejected Christ to his dying breath. The opposite of rejection is acceptance as taught in John 1:12.
3. The nail of denial: This was demonstrated by Peter and is recorded in Mark 14:66-72 The opposite of denial is confession and we are called to confess with our mouth that, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead. Romans 10:8-10
4. The nail of indifference: This was demonstrated by the soldiers playing games at the foot of the Cross as recorded in John 19:23-24. The opposite of indifference is attentiveness and this is taught in Hebrews 12:1-3.
5. The nail of unbelief: This was demonstrated by so many: those who stood watching from a distance; those who participated in the sordid events leading up to the crucifixion; those who carried out the crucifixion and this unbelief was most famously initially exemplified by the disciple, Thomas, in John 20:25. The opposite of unbelief of course is belief and as Christ reached out to Thomas he fully believed, declaring, "My Lord and my God!" as recorded in John 20:27-29.
Tragically, the majority of people continue to respond to the claims of Christ either by blasphemy, rejection, denial, indifference or unbelief. But we who look upon and embrace Jesus' nail-pierced hands respond by crying out with Thomas: "My Lord and my God."
We give thanks for those nails knowing that He was pierced for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. Surely He bore our sorrows and by His stripes we are healed.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we know that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of man ordained by You for a miraculous birth, along with many signs and wonders that You performed through Him. He was handed over to wicked men and gruesomely crucified by the nails that bore Him to the cross. This was done by Your set purpose and in Your foreknowedge. But God, You raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keeps its hold on Him. And now He is exalted to Your right hand making intercession for us. "What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!"
(Prayer based on Acts 2)