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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain!

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"The Nails"

"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).

NailsThe 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.

NailsTo 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.

Games at the cross1. 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

Games at the cross4. 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)

Yesterday we received two photos that brought back some great memories that we would like to share.  (A number of our readers are familiar with some of those photographed.)

Wedding photo for Cesar & Genelle Sankarsingh 3/29/80
Yesterday my sister Genelle and her husband Cesar, who reside in North Carolina, celebrated their 30th wedding aniversary. Genelle posted this wedding photo to her Facebook page. Brooksyne and I are to the right in the photo, which was taken when we were in our mid-twenties.  I wonder if I was trying to do my hair like a favorite musician at that time, Keith Green?  Brooksyne looks about the same (to me anyway) and we had Chrissie (in front of my mom) who was our foster child.  

Enoch with ChrissyChrissie still stays in touch and will probably see this photo. Here's a photo of her comforting our dog Enoch who had just had a losing tussle with a porcupine. Do you notice he doesn't look very happy? I had to remove the quills with needle-nosed pliers and he sure didn't like that! But as I recall this happened several times.

Marvin and familyYesterday we also heard from Marvin, a Guatamalan friend, who stayed with us as a little boy when he was in the states for medical care over twenty years ago. He sent us a bunch of photos of his family at the zoo and is pictured here with his parents and son.  We had dinner in their home in Guatemala over twenty years ago and they treated us with such warmth and kindness expressing gratefulness for the medical care provided for their son from St. Vincent Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Marvin's family with ostrichHere's a photo with Marvin's wife and son looking at a really large Ostrich!

Marvin with 
Shawna and SharonHere is a photo taken about twenty years ago when Marvin was living with us. He is with with two sisters, Shawna and Sharon, who were in the church we served at that time in northern Pennsylvania. A fond memory we have of Marvin was how proud he was to wear his tie to church. In fact he liked it so much he often wore it at home. He comes from a devout Christian family.

Here's a newspaper article about Marvin when he was treated in Erie, Pennsylvania you might find interesting.  Marvin1Marvin2

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"He Was Nailed To The Cross For Me"  Video  Actually I was looking for an older hymn by this title but instead found this song. Steve Holder and Anointed Praise.

"Playing Games At The Foot Of The Cross"  Video  This song especially goes with the point concerning indifference in our message.

You've heard the story many times before,
How the soldiers gambled for the robe of the Lord.
Their laughter drowning out the Saviour's cry.
"Father, forgive them," as He bows His head and dies.

Chorus: And they were playing games at the foot of the cross,
So close to His struggle, yet so far from the cost.
Never feeling the shame and never sensing the loss,
They were playing games at the foot of the cross.

Verse 2: We're so quick to judge them yet so slow to see
How their games resemble ones played by you and me.
As we fight for position in the church of God
While the world goes on dying without the Saviour's love.

"Jesus At The Cross"  Video  

"The Thief On The Cross"  Video  A song written from the perspective of the repentant thief.   Third Day

"The Bridge"  Video  This powerful dramatic video illustrates the sacrifice God made in allowing His Son to die for our sins.

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. But most of this material deals with just the 3½ year period of His earthly ministry.  However, an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels cover the period beginning with Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances.  Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the Gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life!  In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

Finally today, for the chronically inquisitive here is some information about the
Tremont Nail Company mentioned in today's message.

Tremont Nail Company

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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