How the Nails of the Cross Can Change a Life
MP3 Audio of this Message
DATE: 15 July, 2007 AM
I. Introduction (Colossians 2:13,14)
A. A very plain object this morning – a nail
B. We are all familiar with the use of a nail in the wall where we are used to hanging up a picture or even our clothes on them—a jacket, a sweater, a hat—sometimes holding up quite a weight, so it had to be well anchored.
C. Well, technology hasn’t really replaced the nail thankfully – after thousands of years, we still use lots of nails for everything!
D. A lot can be learned from such a simple item - especially since the Bible gives us a glimpse at just how powerful for us the nailing of Jesus to the cross was
II. Let Me Give You Some Background on Some Special Nails (Luke 24:37-40)
A. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians about 300 B.C. It was among the most painful and excruciating form of punishment leading to death ever contrived by man for man (women were never crucified).
B. If we trace the word "excruciating" back to its Latin origins we find that it relates to the act of crucifixion.
C. Contrary to popular opinion, the nails which held Jesus to the cross were driven into His wrists, and not his palms. Many great painters from the past have depicted Jesus being nailed through His palms to the cross; it is a medical impossibility for this to be the case.
D. Jesus' nails would have been made of heavy, square shaped iron, 7-9 inches long. You may have to really work your mind to grasp the enormity of what was going on here. The weight of a fully grown man was going to be suspended by three nails: one in each wrist, and the other through both feet!
E. The Process of the Crucifixion
1. When Jesus got to the place of His execution, He was placed on His back with His arms outstretched. The nails were first driven through small wooden disks (like washers) to eliminate any chance of the heads pulling through the flesh. The site of the incision in the base of the wrist was critical; the Romans had perfected the procedure, a very specific procedure. The Roman legionnaire who had been given the task felt for a specific spot, the nail had to be driven in-between the bones of the forearm up close to the wrist while not severing any major arteries or veins. There is a space between eight small bones which is structurally suitable to permit a full body weight to be supported for a time. If the nails had been driven into the palms of the hands, under the weight, they would have quickly ripped out between the fingers.
2. First, a nail would have been driven into His arm on one side, and then the other. The legionnaire would make sure that His arms were not pulled too tightly, allowing movement. With this done, the cross was then raised and dropped into a set hole in the ground. Then came the nailing of the feet. The third nail had to be driven through both feet, which were turned outward so the nail could be hammered inside the Achilles tendon. With His knees slightly flexed Jesus was now crucified. As He slowly sagged down, He would have tried to support His weight with the muscles of His legs, an impossible position to maintain. In some cases, the victims' legs were broken, so that they couldn't support themselves in this way. Eventually more and more weight was placed upon the nails. The method the Romans had perfected ensured that crucifixion victims would hang painfully until their diaphragm went into spasm and they literally suffocated to death.
F. What an incredible price Jesus was forced to pay, to pay for our sins!
G. And it was not paid through just the rough wood of that cross, nor the cruel mockery of the crowd that gathered at its base, but the price was paid through three massive nails!
H. I want us to learn as much from those nails as possible because I believe those nails spiritually can mean the difference between heaven and hell for people, and between sin and forgiveness, and between bitterness and real joy!
III. Jesus is Typified as a very Special Nail in the Old Testament (Isaiah 22:20-25)
A. It was a rough time in Israel’s history – the empire of Assyria had destroyed dozens of nearby kingdoms, and their entire army was surrounding Jerusalem’s walls calling for the Jews to give up – and most people were ready to give up
B. But a man named Eliakim stood firm in his confidence in the Lord, trusting God to work even this out for good
C. God used Eliakim to be a kind of “picture” of the coming Messiah – of Jesus!
1. He will have God given authority to one day rule the world – greater than Hezekiah, than Rabshekah of Assyria, than Alexander the Great. The Messiah will have a special key of authority – a special God given power to rule. “the government shall be upon His shoulders”
2. He will defeat His enemies a very unusual way! Not through armies and weapons of war – this victory requires Him to be fastened as a nail in a sure place – not in just any old place, but something that everyone will see and know to be of God. Notice that GOD would do the fastening, the nailing of this Man to a sure place! Jesus was not overcome by men
3. Everything will hang on the Messiah – even all the glory of God will hang in the balance – if the Messiah fails, so does God! It is God’s kingdom that is at stake
4. But then will come a day when this Nail will be cut off – He will die – and everything hanging on Him will die with Him!
a. Did you get that?
b. Everything hanging on Jesus dies! That is a blessed truth!
c. Whatever is important is made or broken at the cross
IV. Message – the Power of a Nail
A. A Nail Pierces (Psalm 22:16; Zech 12:10; John 19:37)
1. It breaks through what otherwise would be considered something too hard to work with – wood, and concrete are NOT soft and pliable!
2. A Nail usually is made with a sharp point on the end to go through tough outer layers usually of wood, and even concrete
3. Yet, on that dark, Wednesday morning before Passover, three nails were used to pierce through two unusual substances:
a. To pierce through the hands and feet of Jesus
b. To pierce through my heart and perception of just how awful my sins are! Blows me away! Every little thing I have done that offended God was revealed by those nails piercing an innocent Man named Jesus!
4. A nail does not just prick the surface – not like a staple - it penetrates deep into the wood or concrete - or here, the flesh!
5. This morning, let those nails penetrate deep into your world and your secrets and your sorrows!
6. Yes, it will hurt, but that is the only way to be healed! Everyone must start here!
B. A Nail Fastens Things in Place (Isaiah 41:7; Jer 10:4)
1. Once something has been nailed down, it shouldn’t be able to move
2. That makes a nail good for two great purposes
a. Fixing things in place that were broken
b. Holding things in place so they don’t break any more
3. Many people use poor substitutes to hold things together
a. Like glue – most of the time it doesn’t work
b. Like Duct Tape – what a mess
c. But God used Nails (GRAPHIC)
4. When the nails were used to hold Jesus in place, it was to hold Him there until not only HE died, but also every sin, and every problem also died!!!
5. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if everything that is messed up and broken in our lives could be “nailed down” so to speak so they could be fixed?
a. All our marriages need a good Nail to hold us together
b. All our promises that we make so flippantly need a good Nail to hold us to them
c. All our problems need a good Nail to hold them to the cross until they die – and they will die if we would stop taking them down and trying to carry them ourselves!
d. The best counselling is the reality of the cross, and the power of those nails!
C. A Nail Forges Two or More Things into One Unit (Eph 2:12-16; Col 1:20-22)
1. A simple nail can tie together loads of different materials – much better than Duct Tape can) - Like wood, concrete
2. It can be used in quantity to forge a huge pile of wooden boards and plaster boards and stone and concrete into a beautiful home!
3. On the cross, it was used to hold flesh and wood together
4. In our lives, the nails of the cross can hold two very different kinds of people together
a. Different cultures
b. Different people
c. Different tastes and opinions
d. HEY! If those nails made it possible for GOD and us sinners to be reconciled, shouldn’t they work between us and our families, and even OUR enemies?!
D. A Nail Finalises (Acts 20:28)
1. Once something is nailed, it can be left - The work there is now done!
2. Unlike with screws – screws are easier to remove – much easier than nails
a. You use screws when you might need to undo what you did
b. You nail things when you don’t want to mess with it again!
3. Once the nails went into Christ’s hands and feet, it means that we can now go on, and build our lives on what He did!
4. Without the finished work of Christ on the cross, no one, absolutely no one could ever go forward – many of you have problems going forward in your life because some things HAVEN’T been nailed down
a. Your sins still haunt you – they are still on you instead of on the cross
b. Your fears
c. Your troubles and sorrows are more real than what Christ did
5. Remember, in the Old Testament, and in almost all religions, there is a constant remembrance of sins and failures – but not with the cross!
6. What was accomplished on the cross with the help of those nails was our full pardon – our redemption – our complete forgiveness
7. And it is final – no more work to do to pay off our sins!
E. A Nail Supports – Holds Things Up (1Peter 5:7)
1. It is that nail that supports the weight above it
2. Nails hold boards going in all directions, but yet, with securely fitted nails, a structure can be built very high and very secure!
3. Nails in a wall can hold up pictures, and can hold up even a person!
4. Aren’t you glad Jesus, the Nail can hold up the sins of the whole world!
5. You can rest absolutely everything on Him – your worries, your arguments, your future, your past, your struggles – lean on HIM!
6. Let me say this as well – His nail-pierced-hands and feet prove He not only could carry your sins, but also your sorrows, AND He can carry YOU!
F. Finally, A Nail Frees the Builder (Heb 9:12-14; Col 2:14)
1. Nails hold everything together!
2. Without nails, everything we build is just a deck of cards – comes crashing down so easily with the slightest pressure
3. But with nails, the builder is free to live without fear of failure or fall!
4. A builder would be a very sad builder if he had to constantly keep propping up his roof and ceilings and walls
5. Jesus makes a person free to live now – free from the bondage of sin, of sorrows, of burdens, of fears – from God’s future judgment too!
V. Conclusion - The Power of a Nail
A. Hidden all around us – holding things together, making it possible to live and move inside some pretty amazing structures that otherwise would come crashing down!
B. The nails of the cross held some very important things
1. Not just Jesus
2. But also all the commandments you and I have broken
3. And all the failures and hurts we have caused
4. Those nails held them until they died
5. And then everything was buried
6. But only Jesus resurrected – AMEN!
C. You Need those Nails
1. Not the physical ones!
2. The ones used long ago will do just fine
3. You need them…
4. To free you (John 8:36)
5. Yet, to fasten you to a new life, a changed life, a different life!
6. And to fix everything that is broken
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland