Summary: A Palm Sunday Message that ended with Communion
THE POWER OF THE NAIL
(A 6” nail was handed to every person as they entered the worship center that morning)
This morning as you entered, you were presented with a gift – a nail. Go ahead and look at it while I am speaking. Feel it, grip it, weigh it, push its point against your hand or wrist. It’s not too different that the nail used to affix Jesus to the cross. – just about one inch shorter.
Last August, about 40 of us from our church were in Mexico building a house for a family. As I was helping put the roof on the home, I noticed a difference in a hammer and nail in my hand as opposed to some of the others from our church who have true carpentry skills. I noticed the difference, I am sure that they noticed the difference and I know that my thumb noticed the difference! It all depends upon whose hand the nail is in.
That’s true of a lot of things in life. A basketball in my hand is worth about $19. Put that same basketball in Lebron James hands and its worth $19 million a year. Put a bat and ball in my hands and it might be worth $13. Put that ball and bat in the same hands of Vladimer Guerrero, and it becomes worth $13million a year . A golf ball and club in my hands is worth about $100. In the hands of Tiger Woods, it is suddenly worth $100 million. It all depends upon whose hands it’s in. Give me a hammer and nail and I can tack down a shingle. Put a nail in the hands of Jesus and he can bring salvation to all of mankind. That’s the power of the nail.
Of course, the kind of nail we are talking about today was the final step in the most awful way to die in the first century. Though the Roman army were experts when it came to crucifying people, they considered it such a brutal way to die that no citizen of Rome could be executed in that manner. The Romans had three ways of executing condemned prisoners. The most honorable way was by the sword, or decapitation. That was the way, according to tradition that the Apostle Paul was executed. It is also the way that John the Baptist died as well as James, the brother of John. A second way criminals were executed was by burning them alive. As horrible as that is to imagine, the Romans believed it was more humane that death on a cross. That gives us some glimpse of the agony Jesus endured on our behalf.
The final day of people who shared the fate of Jesus began with a brutal beating. After they beat you, they mocked you. After mocking you, they stripped you. After stripping you, they humiliated you. And finally, they nailed you to a cross, while you were still alive – while your family and your loved ones and your enemies watched. Try to imagine watching something that awful happening to your father or your brother or your husband or your son. Yet, in the midst of that horrific day, the most amazing thing occurred. The salvation of mankind – the redemption of creation was won.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins ,having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
When Paul wrote that passage of scripture in the letter to the church at Colossae, he depicted the fact that Jesus went to the cross powerless but when his body was taken down, he was all-powerful. Notice what was accomplished by the power of the nail. People dead in sin were made alive. The written code against us was cancelled. All of the charges were taken down and nailed to the cross.
The terminology Paul uses in interesting. He makes both a legal and a financial reference. Legally, the written code represented the list of charges stated in a court of law against a criminal condemned to die. In the ancient world, those charges were written on a slate of wood and it was then nailed to the cross above the head of the condemned man. Financially, in the ancient world, if a debtor could not pay a debt, the amount due was written down and charged against the one owing money. Until it could be paid, that man was thrown into a debtor’s prison and might remain there the remainder of his life until the debt was settled.