The Hands of the Carpenter
It was Joseph of Arimathaea
who had the honor of taking the body of Jesus down from
the cross. Think what it would be like to have to pull
the cold and lifeless hands of the Son of God from the
thick, barbed Roman nails.
These were carpenter’s
hands, which once held nails and wood, now being held
by nails and wood. These were the hands that broke bread
and fed multitudes, now being broken to feed multitudes.
They once applied clay to a blind man’s eyes,
touched lepers, healed the sick, washed the disciple’s
feet, and took children in His arms. These were the
hands that, more than once, loosed the cold hand of
death, now held firmly by its icy grip.
These were the fingers that
wrote in the sand when the adulterous woman was cast
at His feet, and for the love of God, fashioned a whip
that purged His Father’s house. These were the
same fingers that took bread and dipped it in a dish,
and gave it to Judas as a gesture of deep love and friendship.
Here was the Bread of Life itself, being dipped in the
cup of suffering, as the ultimate gesture of God’s
love for the evil world that Judas represented.
Joseph’s shame, that
he had been afraid to own the Savior, sickened him as
he tore the blood-sodden feet from the six-inch cold
steel spikes that fastened them to the cross. These
were the "beautiful feet" of Him that preached
the gospel of peace, that Mary washed with her hair,
that walked upon the Sea of Galilee, now crimson with
a sea of blood.
As Joseph reached out his
arms to get Him down from the cross, perhaps he stared
for an instant at the inanimate face of the Son of God.
His heart wrenched as he looked upon Him whom they had
pierced. This face, which once radiated with the glory
of God on the Mount of Transfiguration, which so many
had looked upon with such veneration, was now blood-stained
from the needle-sharp crown of thorns, deathly pale
and twisted from unspeakable suffering as the sin of
the world was laid upon Him. His eyes, which once sparkled
with the life of God, now stared at nothingness, as
He was brought into the dust of death. His lips, which
spoke such gracious words and calmed the fears of so
many, were swollen and bruised from the beating given
to Him by the hardened fists of cruel soldiers. As it
is written, "His visage was so marred more than
any man" (Isaiah 52:14).
Nicodemus may have reached
up to help Joseph with the body. As the cold blood of
the Lamb of God covered his hand he was reminded of
the blood of the Passover lamb he had seen shed so many
times. The death of each spotless animal had been so
quick and merciful, but this death had been unspeakably
cruel, vicious, inhumane, and brutal. It seemed that
all the hatred that sin-loving humanity had for the
Light formed itself into a dark and evil spear, and
was thrust with cruel delight into the perfect Lamb
Perhaps as he carefully
pried the crown from His head, looked at the gaping
hole in His side, the deep mass of abrasions upon His
back, and the mutilated wounds in His hands and feet,
a sense of outrage engrossed him, that this could happen
to such a Man as this. But the words of the prophet
Isaiah rang within his heart: "He was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities
. . . the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all
. . . as a lamb to the slaughter . . . for the transgression
of my people he was stricken . . . yet it pleased the
Lord to bruise him . . .by his knowledge shall my righteous
servant justify many" (Isaiah 53:5–11).
Jesus of Nazareth was stripped
of His robe, that we might be robed in pure righteousness.
He suffered a deathly thirst, that our thirst for life
might be quenched. He agonized under the curse of the
Law, that we might relish the blessing of the gospel.
He took upon Himself the hatred of the world, so that
we could experience the love of God. Hell was let loose
upon him so that heaven could be let loose upon us.
Jesus of Nazareth tasted the bitterness of death, so
that we might taste the sweetness of life everlasting.
The Son of God willingly passed over His life, that
death might freely pass over the sons and daughters
May Calvary’s cross
be as real to us as it was to those who stood on its
bloody soil on that terrible day. May we also gaze upon
the face of the crucified Son of God, and may shame
grip our hearts if ever the fear of man comes near our
souls. May we identify with the apostle Paul, who could
have gloried in his dramatic and miraculous experience
on the road to Damascus. Instead, he whispered in awe
of God’s great love: "God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by
whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the
world" (Galatians 6:14). (23:53 continued)