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…
Godfrey Thring (1851)
Have you seen the nailprints?