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Calvary Nails

A little girl at camp was once asked how she would recognize the Lord Jesus if He were to walk into the room. 'He's got big holes in His hands', was her reply. Those 'big holes' were made by Calvary nails, rough things probably each like six inch iron stakes.

The description John gives of the print of those nails (20:25) employs the same word as that for 'form' (pattern) in 'you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered' (Rom. 6:17). The Lord showed the pattern of the nails in His hands to His disciple who doubted. To all genuine doubters since, the Lord shows the pattern of teaching in His Word by which we serve according to the commission of those same nail-scarred hands (Mat. 28:18-20).

In 1 Chronicles 22:3 we discover that there had to be nails for there to be a house of God at Jerusalem at the time of the building of Solomon's Temple. These were nails for its doors and gates. There could be no house without nails. The same is true of Calvary nails. Christ's death (with its piercing, Ps 22:16), also at Jerusalem, was essential to the existence of an earthly house for God today giving access to a heavenly sanctuary.

Hebrews chapter 8 verse 2 speaks of the Lord as minister of that sanctuary above in heaven which is further described as being the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, not man. This is not a reference to the Tabernacle-tent which Moses pitched on the desert floor, but to something definitely not man-made which exists in heaven. The thing that Moses pitched was only a copy of the great Original. When did the Lord pitch the true tabernacle? Perhaps from the foundation of the world it had stood awaiting a high priest who could bring redeemed humanity in there to worship in spirit.

There is an interesting connection with what Peter said in his maiden sermon in Acts 2:23 when he brought the scenes of the Cross before his audience. He told his Jewish hearers that Jesus had been delivered up by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, but that they too had played a part, for by the hands of lawless men they had crucified Him and put Him to death. The word 'crucified' there in Peter's address is from the same original word as the word meaning pitched in the above Hebrews' verse.

At some unspecified time the Lord pitched that original tabernacle-tent in heaven. He pegged it out and made it fast. But it awaited the risen Christ as our High Priest. It must wait until after He came to earth and was Himself pitched full-length on the torture stake at Golgotha; there they pegged Him out on the Cross under the morning sun; making Him fast to the scaffold by cruel Calvary nails. This He willingly endured so that the tent in the heavens might be filled with our praise. In order for it to be so He came to fill Calvary's central Cross. He filled the Cross so that we, while still here as a pilgrim people on the earth, might be able to draw near as worshippers into heaven itself. Week by week that sanctuary in heaven, now as the place of our worship, is filled with our praise as we remember Him who bore those awful Calvary nails.

We have already considered how Christ, as 'great priest over the house of God' (Heb. 10:21R.V.) serves in resurrection in the heavenly tabernacle, of which the Scripture says quite explicitly it was 'not made with hands'. With reference to this true tabernacle (Heb. 8:2; 9:11), we read Christ entered into the most holy place itself of which again it is said that it was 'not made with hands'. If He has entered as a forerunner, what can be said of all who follow after Him to draw near as worshippers? They have known Christ's circumcision of the heart, concerning which Colossians 2:11 says that it too is something 'made without hands'. Those who enter are made answerable to a heavenly environment which is not man-made, but is a work all of God. Yet every time we break the bread we remember that in the will of God all this entailed something that was man-made: the wounds inflicted by cruel Calvary nails.

Biblical quotations from the NKJV except where otherwise indicated.

He knoweth the way that I take (Job 23:10).

As for God, his way is perfect (Ps. 18:30).

Shew me now thy ways (Ex. 33:13).