The Hammer

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Take the time to look at your hands, what can they do?
They can caress a child with gentle love, they can slap the face of someone that has angered them. They can hit, they can hurt, and their touch can heal. They can do hard manual labor, then can do delicate micro surgery.

When you really analyze what hands can do, you see that they are an extension of your heart. They can sew, type, pick up toys after the kids, turn a screw, carry a gun, hold a butterfly, and push a button that could destroy this world.

Hands have many diverse uses; I have only listed a few. I want to talk about a specific hand, one that helped change the world as we know it. Without this hand, there would have not been a crucifixion as we know it. Let’s take a look at this hand:

The young Roman soldier fell asleep wondering why in the world he was at the rural outpost called Jerusalem. After all, his own father was a general in the Roman army, he was royally bred, and because of a silly rule infringement, he was sent to this outpost as a punishment.

As he fell asleep, he dreamt of Rome, ah soon he would return and be restored to his position. He missed the pomp and circumstance of the parades, he missed the honor he received as a Soldier of Rome, and of course he missed the parties, feasts and celebrations. He wondered if his first love was still waiting for him.

Just one more week and he would return home. He promised himself that he would never; never return to the place of foreigners. He could not understand their religious rules and traditions. He didn’t even want to learn. These Jewish are such a strange lot, he though. He knew in the morning he had to participate in a crucifixion. He didn’t mind much, he had seen plenty of them before, just another foreigner, breaking some foreign religious law, he gave it little thought.

His only concern was that he did not get any of that blood on himself as he preformed his duties. He hated the thought of blood! It was sticky, messy and he had to take time afterwards to clean it off.

As he drifted off to sleep, he recalled someone saying that this crucifixion would be different, he wondered how it could be different, and one dead criminal was the same as another: at least to him.

That morning came, and he awoke with a start: the scourging had begun! He was late, he hoped that his father (The General) would not find out, no one in the regiment would tell, only the commander might pass it on. Oh well, it was to late, he just dressed and hurried to the scourging.

When he arrived, he acted as if he had not been late, and casually observed what was happening. He was suprsized, this Jew was not begging for mercy, he did not plead for his life, he received the lashes. Those issuing the lashing got angry at his serene composure. They wanted to break him, they hit harder and harder but he whimpered not.

36,37,38,39 and silence. Just silence………..no one said a word. The silence was lingered until the commander shouted, it was time. Take this criminal and his cross to the place called Golgotha.

Part of the soldier’s duty was to walk along side the criminal as he carried his cross to that field, that field of death. Now this field set outside of the City of Jerusalem, there was a path that citizens could walk by and view those dead and dying. Rome thought that this would be a good deterrent to crime. As they walked, the soldier noticed a sign on the top of the cross that said: King of the Jews.

Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews? Was this one of their kings he wondered? If he was a king, where were his followers, his court, and his queen? The soldier thought this whole scene was strange. In fact there were very few people with this man. He must have done something very bad.

This criminal, didn’t ask for help as he fell, carrying that heavy cross. After several times of falling, the commander ordered a bystander to help carry the cross. This bystander was reluctant, then he looked into the eyes of the prisoner, and his countenance changed. He eagerly helped carry this cross all the way to the final destination: Golgotha.

By now this criminal should be begging for mercy, denying that he did the crime, but this one said nothing, nothing at all. He just seemed to accept his sentence. As they neared the outskirts of Jerusalem, there was no crowd. The soldier wondered again, if this was the King of these people, why is there only a handful of watchers?

The sun was beginning to beat down, the soldier just wanted this thing over. He had no compassion; he considered that anyone who was not Roman was unimportant, below human and totally expendable. They were always just an inconvenience to be dealt with. Oh how he longed for Rome.

At last, they arrived at that hill, soon it would all be over and he could pack up for his return to Rome. The soldier hoped that the commander would not choose him to do the final part of this extermination. Oh how he hated getting blood, blood of a foreigner on him anywhere!

Oh no, the commander just signaled him to step up. NAIL HIM. Yes sir the soldier responded as he picked up the hammer to begin this horrible deed.

He lifted the hammer, Bang, Bang, Bang, with 3 strokes the nail was in place. He prided himself on his strength, to do this in three swings of the hammers. Bang, bang, bang, the other hand now just the feet, thank goodness this criminal was not squirming around, when they twisted in pain, often blood got on the soldiers’! Bang, Bang, Bang, he pounded in the nail in the feet. Done, he sighed with relief, it was done and there was no blood on him.

Wait a minute: this guy didn’t move, he didn’t cry, he didn’t beg. What is going on he wondered. His eyes drifted to the sign once again: This is the King of the Jews.
Luke 23
34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
36And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
37And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
38And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
44And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
The soldier was afraid in the dark, what was happening? How could it be dark during the day. Who was this man, this criminal? It was so dark; the soldier stumbled around, trying to get his bearings. The darkness confused him, he began to fear, these Jews, their God, this man, I just don’t understand.
Then there was this sound, a ripping…….a tearing: the veil of their temple. The soldier had heard that it would take 70 teams of oxen to tear this thing, yet it just was ripped apart by unseen hands. What hands could have done this? What would have such power?
46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
It was so dark now, he wanted to run away, he no longer cared about his position, about Rome, the parties, the fun; he just wanted to flee this darkness.
In his rush he accidently bumped into the cross, as he grabbed on to stabilize himself, drip, drip, drip the blood dripped upon his hand.

Immediately revelation came: he saw the truth, he saw the Son of God.
47Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous man.
And HE is the son of God! Tears filled his eyes as revelation flooded his heart. What had he done? How was he so deceived? As he fell at the foot of the cross, his eyes lifted to the sign THE KING OF THE JEWS, then the turned to his own hand: The hand that had held the hammer.
Now this is a very intense thought, to have been the one who nailed Jesus to the cross. We think that this was one misled man in history, but let us examine what we hold in our hands today.
Do we hold weapons, do we hold onto lies, do we hold on to deception? Do we crucify our Lord with our words, Do we use his name in vain or worse of all: do we ignore Him?
Consider this, fill you hands with the love of our Lord. Fill your hands with the Bible, Use your hands to heal others, use your hands to set the captives free, use your hands by raising them in Praise to Lord Jesus: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
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