I was working on a project in my garage a few weeks ago when something startling occurred. Well, it won’t sound so alarming to you (especially if you know me personally), but it was disconcerting to me. As I was hammering a nail into a 2×4, the implement of destruction slipped off the head of the nail and smashed my thumb.
As you can imagine, it was a little hurty. As the old saying goes, “It’s enough to make a preacher swear.” I immediately muttered the phrase, “Land o’ Goshen!” two or three times (or something to that effect). After the throbbing subsided somewhat, I looked at the damage and the thought crossed my mind, “How cliche!”
I Never Hammer My Thumb
Many times over the years, I’ve preached sermons in which I’ve used the illustration of hitting your thumb with a hammer (I know, I know… sounds boring). I couldn’t remember, however, of actually hitting my thumb with a hammer–until now. I suppose I have, but I’ve apparently blocked those evil memories from my mind.
As I viewed the bloody mess that, just a few seconds prior, had been my healthy thumb, I looked beyond it and noticed the blood on the wood of my project as well. It will be a constant reminder of the sacrifice I made to construct that project for our home (not that I really needed one). The real kicker to this whole fiasco is that I did it again a couple weeks later while working on an entirely different project at a different home in a different state. The original scab was not entirely gone from my poor thumb when I repeated my misadventure. Oy vey!
The wood, the hammer, the nail, and my bloody thumb (not to mention the pain) quickly put me in mind of what Jesus must have gone through on the day he was crucified. I have, from time to time, tried to picture myself in his place. I’ve always found it to be unimaginable. Hitting my thumb with a hammer hardly qualifies as comparable, but it is a small reminder that a heavy price was paid for my salvation.
I Can’t Conceive
Having the flesh torn from his back, three-inch thorns pounded into his cranium, spikes driven through his extremities, and experiencing the dislocation of every bone in his body are things of which my small mind can’t conceive. My little accident merely hammers home the point that life is painful and that my sin causes even more agony than I can envision.
The worst part is the fact that the physical torture of the cross was likely the least of it. On top of all that, Jesus suffered the weight of my sin (our sin) that was placed on him. His Father in Heaven forsook him at the worst possible time. Having God look away in my hour of need is something I’ve never experienced, but Jesus did.
There’s an old hymn that states, “There’s Power in the Blood.” I get the point.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]