Summary: This sermon looks at various nails we carry in our lives, much like the ones that nailed Jesus to the tree. It can be used on Ash Wed. or maundy Thurs. If used at ash Wed., each participant is given a nail to carry with them throughout lent to remind them
A nail can be an uncomfortable thing to confront. If you are not careful about how you handle it, it might cut or scratch you, or even puncture your skin. Then there would be blood on your hands…as there was blood on our Lord’s hands… as a result of the nail. “His blood be on us and on our children” the crowds shouted at Pontious Pilate. And so it is. There is blood on your hands and my hands… his blood. There was also blood on Jesus’ hands…his blood, not yours but his.
The law of God accuses and condemns. If one considers the law of God, the 10 commandments, in a personal way, honestly and seriously, one might find that what we truly deserve from God is the torment of a guilty conscience, the terror of a wretched death and the misery of eternal damnation. But you have your nail, and God invited you to use it. You and I are free to take any infraction of God’s holy law which we discover in our life… and nail it to the cross of Christ. We can take all of our sufferings and burdens and nail them to the cross of Christ, for he bore our suffering in His body on a tree. He is willing to bear all the guilt, all the punishment, all the grief and pain. He can take it and he will.
Time will not permit to go through and personalize the whole of the 10 commandments, but let us just look at a few this evening and examine our hearts in light of the.
1. “you shall have no other Gods”. The first commandment demands from us whole love for God. Nothing less than that is acceptable. How will have you kept it? Perhaps more honestly, how seriously have you broken it? Is there anyone or anything that you respect or think more of than God- like your own reputation, what others might think of you if you truly lived according to this commandment? Is there anyone or anything that you love more than God- like money or pleasure, or success, or even a soft pillow on a Sunday morning? Is there anyone or anything that you trust more than God? – like your own wisdom or will or abilities?
2. the 4th commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy” . We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his word and the preaching of it.” Is that always the case with you? Is it true every time God’s word is being proclaimed in church? Is it true also in your own home? Or do television programs, computers, video games, sporting events, social obligations or business concerns speak more loudly in our ears than does the saving word of God? Is “glad” the word that characterizes our worship? Is holy the attitude we bring into the presence of the Lord?
3. the 6th commandment- “thou shalt not kill”. Sometimes it is easy for Christians to dismiss this command because we know we have never killed anyone. But there is more to it. We may not be guilty or murder as such, but this commandment has much deeper implications, and was graphically shown in the parable of the good Samaritan. It was not only those who beat the man and left him for dead who were guilty, but those who passed by on the other side were also guilty. We can kill others by abuse such that we wipe our the spirit and will. We can kill others by the gossip we spread and the way that we talk about them. This list could go on. We are to fear and love God so that we do not hurt out neighbors in any way – and the word “any” is quite inclusive.
4. the 9th commandment- “you shall not bear false witness.” – Small as it is, the tongue is one of the most powerful organs in the human body. With it we can do great good – defending other people, encouraging other people, speaking words of comfort and hope to them. The tongue can also be one of the most dangerous weapons w eposes. Without touching other people physically, we have do great damage to them and hurt them very much by the way we talk about them - by betraying, slandering, or lying about them. Even when silent, the tongue and be an instrument of evil – if we fail to speak up to defend someone when others are talking about them or when words are needed and we can make a difference. How have you used your tongue lately, or today? Or misused it? Or failed to use it?
5. the 10th commandment: you shall not covet” covet is not a common word these days, but it describes a very common attitude. Wanting what others have, wanting what we have not worked for. “greed” and “lust” are more familiar words to describe this, but they have a sinister ring to them- and rightly so, because almost every sin that we commit – stealing, lying, hurting, harming, abusing, betraying, deceiving, defiling – has its roots in our hearts long before it ever comes out into the open. Like that little match that starts the raging forest fire, the tiny flame of coveting also has the potential to burst forth destructively. That is why God in his love condemns coveting as sin, while it is still within us, before it has a chance to harm others or ourselves.