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Posts tagged ‘Crucifixion’

Did They Drop the Nails?


The old Catholic convent smelled like smoke as we walked toward the flickering glow of small candles illuminating TVCthe altar.  Everyone had been handed a nail and most of us knew what we would be asked to do before the night was over.  It’s an annual tradition, a ritual of sorts, and a precious opportunity that only comes around on Good Friday.  Sometimes I think I would rather not go.  I came up with any number of excuses that sounded legitimate this year.  But just when I thought I had made up my mind to do something else, I felt drawn to go. 

            Our friends wanted to go with us this year and the desire to share this sacred moment with them was leading us back on the path that was now lit by tiny votive candles. 

            It was supposed to be a silent service.  But we, as a society, find it so hard to sit still, so hard to unplug, so hard to quit whispering messages to the person next to us.   When the auditorium was almost full and we had just begun to settle in and try to still our thoughts, a cell phone began to ring in the row in front of us.  The man’s wife gave him that scolding look only a wife can give a husband.   He struggled to turn it off as it rang and rang and rang.  About five minutes later, her phone began to ring and there was no stopping the laughter that came from all those around them.

          Then the ping, ping, ping of nails hitting the floor seemed just as distracting, at first.  But then I started to wonder, did they drop the nails?  Nails EdgeDid the men who crucified Jesus drop any of the nails?  Were their hands shaking in anger?  Were they shaking in fear?  How must it have felt to place that sharp point on His most perfect and innocent flesh and then raise the hammer, make contact with the head of the nail and drive it into those loving, giving, accepting, amazing, most beautiful hands?

          Our choir sang in Latin with an English translation on the large video screen.  It was amazing.  We silently read the last seven sayings of our Lord and Savior before He willingly gave up His spirit.  Tears were flowing throughout the darkened church as we each stood and walked toward the old wooden cross.  There, just beyond the altar, we each nailed our sins to the cross.  It is always the hammering that makes it almost unbearable.  Our son said he imagined the sound to be steady beats from a drum as he tried to contain his emotions while stepping forward to accept his part in the process.  No matter how many times you have heard hammering, you have not heard it like this.  It feels like the floor is moving, with our hearts pounding, and our hands shaking.  No matter how many times you participate, it feels much the same.  My sin, my shame, my fears, my failures, held Him there on that cross.

          Oh the sweet relief of communion.  The hammering finally subsided.  We ate the bread of life and drank from the fruit of the vine and it was over.  It was finished.  It was done.  He is alive.  Resurrected in all His glory and sitting at the right hand of our God.  Our debt PAID IN FULL!  Our lives begin again.  We are renewed.

          As we walk toward our cars, our friend says she has never gotten more out of an Easter service in her entire life.  We smile.  I joke that no matter how it made us feel, I will walk right out that door and sin again.  They double-check to make sure I’m not planning to sin anytime soon.  And I’m not.  But I know I will, probably even before the night is over.  He knows I will.  He knows me.  But He came to save me.  And He will save you too.   He can even save the men who crucified Him.  Did they believe in Him before their wretched job was over?  Did the earthquake, the sun going dark, the dividing curtain of the Temple ripping apart, convince them that He was and is in fact the Son of God?  Did they have extra nails?  Did they drop the nails?

Nails Edge

And Jesus said to the thief on the cross, the one who believed in him at the last-minute,the one who had sinned up until that very moment,

 “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

© Copyright 2013, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved

Such a Good Friday!

I hope you don’t mind me re-posting this story from last year.

I recognize today, that I am just as much a sinner as I was one year ago, when this was written.

I need Him as much as ever.

I am as responsible, as anyone, for the price He had to pay.      

          Pounding hammers and cracking wood echoed through the old Catholic sanctuary.  It went on for only 15 or 20 minutes but it seemed so much longer.  I sort of knew what might happen when I first walked in and the man at the door handed me a nail.  But the longer we sat in the silent service, the less sure I was of what was going on.           

           The music playing was reminiscent of a Catholic Mass.  And I wondered if the nuns, who moved out of this former convent years ago, would be pleased with the ceremony now taking place, with people from many different backgrounds of faith.

            On the big modern video screen, hanging up front and to the right, were images of Jesus on the cross.  Silently, but together, we read his final words…the last seven things he said.

            Then it was time.

            A large thick dark wooden cross had been placed on a table at the front of the sanctuary.  We were encouraged to go forward, and by driving our nails into the cross, accept that our sins were as responsible for his death as the Roman soldiers who hung Jesus on the cross at Calvary.  When I picked up the hammer, my hands were shaking a bit more than I had expected.  I placed the nail where I thought his hand might have been if this were the actual crucifixion.  I hit the nail three times before I had to let go and walk away.  I felt sick and weak and very sad.  But, there, at the base of a driftwood cross hanging high on the wall in the center of the church was the welcoming invitation to share the Lord’s Supper. 

            It changed me.

            I thank God I will never be the same because that experience last night changed me.  I suspect it changed all of us.

            As we walked back to our seats, the sounds of cracking wood and pounding hammers continued for a few minutes and then, once again, precious silence. 

            We stood and sang the song, “Lord Have Mercy.”  Then, everyone ended the evening in silent prayer.

            When we walked out into the hallway, it was filled with the voices of families making dinner plans, talking about the weekend and the upcoming Easter services. 

            We left knowing we will sin again. 

            But we left free from the burden of sin and free from the price he offered to pay. 

The last seven things Jesus said:

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34  NASB

Speaking to the thief who had asked Jesus to remember him, “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43 NASB

“When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, Behold, your mother!”

John 19:26-27  NASB

“About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ELI, ELI LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”

Matthew 27:46 NASB

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28  NASB

He said, “It is finished!” John 19:30 NASB

“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.”  Having said this, He breathed His last.

Luke 23:46 NASB

As a woman and a mother, I think of Mary standing there and the helpless agony she must have felt watching her son die. 

But I also think of the lyrics to the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend and I recognize my role in all that happened. 

“Behold the Man upon the cross,

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers 

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished.” 

Yes, ladies, it is finished.  No guilt, no shame, no more penalties for our sins.  He has paid our debt.  And the debt is paid in full.

Happy Easter!

Fruit of the Vine

             “Is it okay to like communion?” our son asked last Sunday.  His curiosity made me smile, even though I did have to stop and think about how I might accurately answer such a question.  Every time I take a sip of Welch’s grape juice, I always remember the sweet smell of it on my mother’s breath when I was a child.

            In the little church where my grandparent’s worshiped, the grown-ups took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.  They would first pass around the unleavened bread (which always looked like a cracker to me) and then they would pass a silver tray of tiny little glass cups filled with grape juice.  It was quite a solemn observance as I felt sure it should be.  But it was also something I aspired to…something I wanted to be part of …something sacred for the big people.  And by the time they passed it around, I was pretty hungry and it smelled good.

            When I look at the story in the New Testament book of Matthew Chapter 26, the words in verse 20 always seem to catch my eye.  It says Jesus was “reclining at the table” with the twelve disciples.  It’s probably rarer in our society than it was in years past, but reclining at the table conjures up an image of a warm and welcoming place.  A relaxing atmosphere where conversation is key and good food is still on the table.

            Certainly there was seriousness that night, like never before.  But prior to talk turning back to the impending crucifixion, in both the books of Matthew and Mark, it says, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread,”

            Jesus was sharing a special evening with his disciples.  When He asks us to share the same meal, I believe He wants us to feel that closeness with other believers and especially with Him.  He told us very specifically to remember Him, and, when we do, sometimes, thoughts of His death on a cross summon up feelings of sadness.  But we are reminded in Matthew 26 that Jesus was not forced to die on the cross…no one took Him against His will…He was not overpowered by the crowd…He chose to give His life for us.

            The solemn, respectful observance should leave us walking away rejuvenated, refreshed, forgiven and free.  We can recline in a way…relax in the knowledge that no one has ever loved us more.

            Recognizing that our son would probably remember our words, we gave careful consideration to what we believe is an accurate answer. 

            It’s not only okay to like communion, it’s okay to love it.”  

It is an ordinance for redeemed sinners, and not for unfallen angels. By receiving it we publicly declare our sense of guilt, and need of a Savior – our trust in Jesus, and our love to Him – our desire to live upon Him, and our hope to live with Him. Using it in this spirit, we shall find our repentance deepened, our faith increased, our hope brightened, our love enlarged, our besetting sins weakened and our graces strengthened. It will draw us nearer to Christ.  ~ J.C. Ryle 

          On Good Friday night, we always try to gather friends and family to watch The Passion of the Christ.  While it is a hard movie to watch, it is a blessed reminder of what He really did and how much He values us.  No matter what you think of yourself, no matter what you believe others think about you, He proved how much He loves you and how much you are worth to Him.  While we spend so much of our lives trying to win the love of others, His love is the greatest love of all!

Who else would ever sing a song of praise, before willingly choosing to die, just for you? 

“After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Matthew 26:30 NASB 

Communion, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Sacrament or the Eucharist…isn’t it really all the same?  It’s a privilege to share in His sufferings so we might also share in His inheritance. 

Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Romans 8:17 NIV  

Hold your head up a little higher, walk with more confidence, and see yourself through His eyes and not the eyes of the world. On Friday, April 29, 2011 as the world watches Kate Middleton marry Prince William, just remember you are a Daughter of the real King! 

 

 

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