Here’s A Thought for March 3
What kept Jesus on the cross?
When you were dead in your sins, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he (Jesus) has taken it away, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13, 14)
This past Wednesday, known throughout Christendom as Ash Wednesday, begins our own solemn observance of Lententide 2017. In spirit we will join millions of our sisters and brothers of Christ Crucified as they follow Jesus on the Way of the Cross.
When Jesus was led to Mount Golgotha, “the hill of the skull,” three soldiers stretched Jesus out on the cross-beam while another soldier picked up three long iron nails or spikes. The nails were a tapered shaft from 5 to 7 inches long and about half an inch in diameter. The nail is forced between the two bones, the ulna and radius, just above the wrist joint
Seconds later, the other arm follows and then the feet are overlapped and a single nail is forced into the feet of Jesus. As the very Eternal Son of God, we know that Jesus could have come down from the cross. The nails driven into his hands and feet by the Roman soldiers couldn’t hold him on the cross, but that day he chose the nails. Why?
During the Lenten Season, we focus on Christ’s greatest work which was accomplished on Calvary’s cross when he willingly died for our sins and the sins of the world. Yet, that first Good Friday, there were three invisible nails that caused him to stay on the cross.
The first invisible nail that kept Jesus on the cross was the nail of sin. The prophet Isaiah, seemed to comprehend the sacrificial ministry of Christ: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
It was the nail of sin that held Jesus to the cross. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It not only was universal sin that held Jesus to the cross — it was your sin my sin. It’s the principle of vicarious sacrifice (taking the place of another). He took my place and your place of death on the cross.
The second invisible nail that kept Jesus on the cross was the nail of loyalty. Jesus always lived in the shadow of the cross. His entire ministry and healing mission pointed to the cross and the fulfillment of the divine purpose for his life. Jesus’ loyalty to the Father’s purpose for his life and his acceptance of the cross qualified him to be our example
Through baptism we receive our new loyalty/commitment to Christ. It’s a loyalty that will enable us, regardless of the cost, to take our stand for Christ and for his Word. As Christians, we need to recommit to our moral and ethical, Biblical convictions. Our world and society is leading us to moral and ethical bankruptcy and we are lacking the moral strength to resist.
Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). In a supreme demonstration of loyalty to God’s will, Jesus died on the cross. His loyalty motivates us to be loyal to the cross and “take up our cross” and follow him. It was the nail of loyalty that held Jesus to the cross.
The third nail that kept Jesus on the cross was the nail of love. Then the question is asked, even by his enemies, “Why? Why didn’t Jesus resist?” Why didn’t those hands that healed the blind, make the lame to walk, raised the dead, deny the pain that was felt? Why? Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. That’s the third nail that kept him on the cross was the nail of love.
In the spiritual darkness of the world’s hatred, bitterness, intolerance and bigotry, God allowed his son to be born. But hatred pursued Christ. At Jesus’ birth, Herod, full of hatred, sent out a decree that all male infants, from newborn to 2 years old, were to be destroyed. Most Pharisees hated Jesus because the truth of his healing Gospel brought their sinful hypocrisy to light. Unperturbed by these existing prejudices, and with the cross his ultimate and determined goal, Jesus declared, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).
It was the nail of love that held Jesus to the cross.
Around our world today, the Cross of Christ still casts its shadow across the world, and the cry of hatred and unbelief, “Crucify him” still lurks in those who would crucify him rather than confess him as Lord and Savior of their lives.
Christ’s greatest work was dying for us and his rising victorious over death. His purpose was to die, to shed his blood as a substitute in your place and in my place. Through our baptism into Christ’s death as our substitute we receive the gift of eternal life.
What kept Jesus on the cross? We reply during this Lententide: “The nails of sin, loyalty, and love. Amen.