Some folks shot me strange looks as I was coming out of Home Depot a few days ago.
I was carrying a 5’ wooden cross. I also got some nods of partial understanding…it was, after all, Good Friday. Members of my family in Christ didn’t need to know the reason for the cross I was carrying. They simply did the math and reckoned it had something to do with Easter celebration. I lugged the cross through the parking lot feeling the splinters of the oak beam dig into my shoulder. For a moment I paused to consider the weight of the Cross Christ bore on the Via Dolorosa.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love special occasions. My domestic flair peaks with the approach of a holiday. Determined not to permit decorating and cooking for 20+ people to overshadow the meaning of our Lord’s death and resurrection, I had gone to Home Depot with a mission in mind. The cross would be placed out side my front door with 9” spikes partially nailed at opposite ends of the crossbeam. A sign posted above the cross draped with a crimson sash read “It wasn’t the nails that held Him there. It was His love for You.” Guests would be invited to hit one of the spikes with a hammer as a visual and auditory reminder, “Christ took the nails for me”.
Predictably the guests began to arrive and each person was surprised to be greeted with a hug and a hammer. Still all understood the powerful imagery and were sobered at the invitation to hit the spike. The sound of the hammer driving the nail was powerful and sent chills down my spine each time I heard it. It was the sound of Love’s sacrifice.
What must it have been like that day at Calvary? Christ did not simply hear the spikes, He felt them. Every blow. In His wrists. Through His ankles. These were not little nails but large spikes ruthlessly driven deep into His flesh. Did He grimace? Did He cry aloud? Did He weep? Whatever His response to this torture, we know 2000 years later the nails were not what held Jesus to the Cross. As a mob at His feet mocked Him to save Himself, Jesus could have called legions of angels to His rescue. But love made a choice that day, a choice to hang there. Love chose to endure the agony. Love chose to die for the sin of mankind. Love chose to pay a price man could never afford, to give a gift man would never deserve.
He endured the suffering that should have been ours. Isaiah 53:4
Praise be to God that Calvary was not the end. As I celebrated Easter Sunday with friends and family today, we gave thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and we rejoiced in His Resurrection. Because He lives we have hope for this journey. Beyond that, Christ’s victory over the final enemy…death…offers us the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven.
“God raised Him up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:24
Jesus Christ is RISEN!