Matthew 27: 27-54
On this fourth Sunday in Lent, I would like you to ponder a quick question . . . how many nails played a part of the Crucifixion? Think about that just for a moment.
Most of us are going to say 3 . . . and three might be correct. It is the traditional image of Jesus, arms outstretched with one nail in each hand, feet crossed with one nail driven through each foot. That would make a total of three.
However, some of us might say 4 . . . and most scholars believe that might be a bit more historically actuate. Arms outstretched with one nail thorough each wrist. Then one nail for either foot, through the side of the heal, into the side of the cross, almost in the pose of riding a bicycle. This would have heightened the pain, as the nail went though the bone, and severed the major nerve that runs through the foot and leg.
But a few of us might even say 5 . . . and five you might think? Yes five . . . that is probably closer to the right answer. Two in his hands. Two in his feet. One for the sign nailed above his head. That sign, often forgotten is still important. It’s message is still crucial to the crucifixion . . . so that nail still counts, making a total of five nails.
And those five nails . . . tell a story as well. Just as the Crown of Thorns told the story, of how Jesus’ death is connected to the Garden of Eden and the sins of all humanity.
The nails tell another story . . . They tell a story that reminds us of who Jesus is and why he came. For what shape can you make with those five nails? Laying them out one by one? Interweaving them one over another? Maybe you’d get something like . . . a star.
33 years before Jesus was hung on the tree, there was a symbol of hope that lit up the night sky. It beckoned the shepherds. It guided the magi. It accompanied the angels. As that bright light shone down on all the earth hope was born.
As Jesus came into the world, he was placed into the hands of a carpenter. Joseph . . . Jesus’ earthly father, and with that we can imaging that Jesus was a carpenter as well. Following in dad’s workshop, following in his father’s footsteps, with hammer and nails in hand, covered in sawdust. Splinters in his fingers, and blackened fingernails nails from missing the mark.
Jesus was a carpenter destined for the cross, which means from birth to death . . . nails were a part of his story.