Daily Archives: May 3, 2021

THE MESSAGE OF THE NAIL PRINTS

THE MESSAGE OF THE NAIL PRINTS

Two disciples… returning home after a weekend of tragedy and disillusionment. Back and forth they talk, airing their grief, their shattered hopes. Why, oh why did it have to end like this?

Soft footfalls behind them herald the approach of a stranger. Sensing the sombre atmosphere, the unknown man asks, “Why so sad?”

“Haven’t you heard? Are you the only one who doesn’t know what happened in Jerusalem this weekend?” they reply.

Eyes downcast, they relate events and emotions that betray their deep-seated disappointment.  “We had hoped… but now…” Like the Twelve who persisted in their unbelief despite the testimony of the women who went to the tomb, these two dejected disciples allow their grief to destroy any last vestige of hope. They know that the lifeless body of the one in whom they fervently trusted is sealed in a rocky tomb.

The stranger rebukes them. “Are you so foolish that you let grief override good sense? What does the Word say?“ This man seems to have amazing insights into the depths of Holy Scripture.

He opens the sacred writings as they listen, fascinated, to his teaching… yet they still have no idea who he is, perhaps a visitor to Jerusalem with no ties to the events of the past weekend. They still make no connection between him and the messages he is recalling from Scripture.

They invite the stranger into their home as is the custom of hospitable people. There is something familiar about him that they can’t quite figure out. Perhaps a few more hours with him…

The evening meal prepared, they gather around to share their bounty. Courtesy prompts the head of the family to invite the stranger to bless their meal.

He lifts his hands in thanksgiving and suddenly, in a flash, every detail of the past moments falls into place. His seeming ignorance of recent tragic events… his gentle rebuke… his intimate understanding of their sacred book… his hands as he spreads them out in blessing.

In a heartbeat, as understanding dawns, He’s gone! Gone from their eyes but not from their hearts. A subtle fragrance fills the room where He shared the table with them, the lingering fragrance of the Son of God.

His hands! Of course, who else but Jesus Himself! Gone the grief and unbelief! It all makes sense now. He is no upstart, self-proclaimed prophet, but truly the promised Messiah so eloquently described in their own Scriptures.

Those angry wounds so clearly visible in His upraised hands speak more clearly than the many words He uttered as He accompanied them to their home. How beautifully the nail prints symbolise the greatest love of all, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” How clearly they speak of a sacrifice so great that it forgives and restores everything Adam forfeited in the Garden of Eden.

An old but ageless hymn captures in the jewels of language the message of the nailprints:

Crown Him the Lord of love

Behold His hands and side

Rich wounds, yet visible above

In beauty glorified…

Matthew Bridges

Godfrey Thring (1851)

(en.m.wikipaedia.org)

Have you seen the nailprints?

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING!

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING!

But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!” Romans 11:12.

Now there’s a thought!

If the door of God’s grace was opened to the Gentiles because the Jews refused it, and blessing came to the whole world instead of to only one small group, just imagine what would happen if the Jews as a people, and not just individuals here and there, were to receive Jesus as their Messiah. The entire Jewish nation, not only those in Israel but those who are scattered all over the globe, would be a blessing wherever they are! Isn’t that what God promised Abraham?

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2, 3.

However, that does not give the Gentile believers any cause to gloat. We who are not the natural descendants of Abraham, have no reason to think that, because the Jews refused their Messiah and we received Him, that we are any better than they.

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and so save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:13-16.

Paul was doing much more than expressing wishful thinking or inventing a reason for believing that the Jews will still play a big part in God’s plan for the world. His reasoning was based on a solid Biblical principle which applies anywhere and everywhere. It’s called terumah or the firstfuits offering.

From the beginning of time, God required the first portion of the increase of the harvest, and the firstborn of the flocks and herds to be given to Him. Hence Abel’s offering of the firstborn of his flock was acceptable while Cain’s sacrifice of “some of the harvest” was unacceptable because he did not honour God first. The terumah, offered to God and given to the high priest to support him and his family, guaranteed God’s blessing on the rest of the harvest.

“Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfuits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10.

Israel was God’s “firstborn” son, set apart and belonging to Him. Every firstborn son belonged to God and had to be redeemed by the payment of a sum of money to the high priest. God redeemed Israel through the blood of a lamb – symbolising the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He took the Levites to be His special tribe in place of all the firstborn of the nation. 

“I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine.” Numbers 3:11-13.

Therefore, according to Paul, if the Israelites were holy, set apart for God, then the rest of the harvest (the world) is holy. Since the door of grace has already been opened to the Gentiles because the Jews, God’s firstborn, refused Him, in order for the blessing which has come to the world through Abraham’s descendants to be authentic, the firstfruits of the harvest must be given to God – that’s the Jews.

Paul, basing his case on sound Biblical truth and in a kind of reverse reasoning, argued that, since the rest of the harvest is already being blessed i.e., the Gentiles, the full harvest of His people, the Jews, must be blessed and gathered in as well since the firstfuits, the Jews, were gathered in at Pentecost.

That puts paid to the teaching that God is finished with the Jews. He cannot be because He is always true to His word and His nature. The firstfruits and the full harvest are inextricably tied together. Since the blessing of Abraham has already come to the Gentiles, it must still come on the Jews because they are his natural offspring. By faith in their Messiah, they will also become his spiritual children and the full harvest, which began with the first believers who were Jews, will be gathered in.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.