Tag Archives: nail prints

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?

They Recognised Him

THEY RECOGNISED HIM

“They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if He were going on but they pressed Him: ‘Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.’ So He went in with them. Here is what happened. He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, He blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognised Him. And then He disappeared.'” Luke 24:28-31 (The Message).

‘He blessed and broke and gave it to them.’ Sound familiar? This was another trigger for these disciples. Jesus had probably done this hundreds of times during the course of His association with them. Many more than the inner Twelve followed Him around and no doubt He had shared many a meal with them. This was the first clue to the identity of the stranger who had accompanied them on their journey home.

Peter had his own triggers which brought back both painful and precious memories: The crowing of a rooster would always remind him of his terrible failure, and a coal fire, of his Master’s gracious forgiveness. For these disciples it was the simple gesture of blessing and breaking the bread.

Perhaps they were not in the Upper Room at His last Passover meal when He formally established a new covenant with them. They were not part of the inner circle but it was a familiar action, nevertheless. And who could miss the wounds in His hands which had, up to this point, been hidden?

It was those nail-prints which clinched it for them. No one could go through that ordeal and come out alive, with Roman soldiers on guard to make sure that every execution was carried out to the death. Their fuzzy, grief-soaked minds were suddenly cleared and they saw Him and recognised Him. Strange that it was His hands, not His face or His voice that finally convinced them.

Jesus must have enjoyed that moment! He has been on the road with them for a while, walking alongside them, listening to them, and talking to them but they were blind and deaf to all the familiar things about Him? Why? Was it because their disappointed expectation blinded them to His identity and His intention?

That’s how it often is with us too. Our expectations of God are either too low or too tied to our circumstances to allow us to recognise Him with us. We are in a tough spot and God seems silent or absent. We pray and nothing happens. Times get tougher and doubts and fears increase. Everything looks dark and hopeless. We have high hopes and they die when Jesus does not show up.

These are not intended to be faith-killing but faith-building moments. Faith does not grow when everything goes our way. Faith grows when there is nothing happening and we have to stake ourselves on God’s faithfulness. Satan comes in these times to call God’s character into question, like he did with Eve, because he desperately wants to discredit God so that we will mistrust Him.

But there is inexpressible joy awaiting us when Jesus shows us that He has been there all the time, putting everything in place to answer our cry. What an awesome moment when He reveals Himself and we know that our trust was worth it all! Even if everything seems dark and hopeless to you right now, won’t you trust Him? At the right moment He will show you that He has been there all the time and His plans for you are good.