Nails and Thorns
Jesus’ death upon the cross is the means by which God’s plan to redeem man from his sin was accomplished (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Romans 4:24-25). In many ways it is the focal point of the Bible. The Old Testament looks forward to the death of Jesus as it foretells Jesus’ death (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; Acts 3:18). The New Testament records Jesus coming to earth in order to “give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45, NKJV) and then tells how we ought to live in light of the fact Jesus has died for us (Romans 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Jesus’ death is one of the events recorded in each of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19). There are many aspects to Jesus’ time upon the cross which a person could focus upon in order to reflect upon what He went through on our behalf. A couple of these aspects of Jesus’ suffering have crossed my mind recently and can hopefully help us appreciate what Jesus did for us in dying upon the cross.
Psalm 22 predicts for us the suffering which Jesus would undergo while upon the cross. One of the remarkable predictions contained in Psalm 22 is the statement, “They pierced My hands and My feet” (vs. 16, NKJV). Oftentimes the Jews would put someone to death by means of stoning. The Romans would use the method of crucifixion to execute certain individuals. Jesus Himself predicted He would be crucified (Matthew 20:17-19; John 12:32-33). The fact Jesus would be crucified was predicted hundreds of years before it took place should strengthen our faith in God. Yet think about the concept of having one’s hands and feet pierced. Personally, I try to avoid having something pierce my hand. If I am putting a nail into a board, I try to be careful it isn’t going to even prick my skin. Perhaps you are the same way. The concept of getting a shot is something I do because of the possible benefits it might have for my health but I don’t relish being pierced with a very small needle for a very short period of time. The piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet was not a little prick for a very brief moment. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross (John 20:25, 27) for several hours (Mark 15:25, 33-37). Let us remember the great pain and agony Jesus went through as His hands and feet were pierced and He died for us.
Related to the previous point, I have recently thought about how Jesus was adorned with a crown of thorns leading up to His death on the cross. Matthew 27:29-30 and Mark 15:17-19 tells us, “And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put in on His head, and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him” (Mark 15:17-19, NKJV). Most of us seek to avoid getting a thorn or a splinter in our body. When we get a thorn or splinter, we experience pain and want it removed. Jesus had a crown of thorns placed upon His head and then it appears such was beaten upon His head with a reed. Such suffering and mistreatment is something terribly unpleasant and something many of us have never experienced anything like. We need to remember what the Hebrew writer said when we think we have endured so much for the cause of Christ. Hebrews 12:1-4 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (NKJV).
As we noted, most of us seek to avoid the things Jesus underwent in association with His death upon the cross. One of the most remarkable things about Jesus’ death is He voluntarily went through all of this for you and me (John 10:11, 17-18; Matthew 26:53-54). Jesus had the power at His disposal to stop all these things from happening to Him. He did not stop these things from happening because of the love He has for God and for us. Perhaps thoughts like these are helpful things to contemplate when we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the first day of the week as we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). There is a song which has the following words as a part of it, “Every thorn, every nail, every tear was for me.” Let us always remember what Jesus did in order to save us from our sins!