The nails of the crucifixion

By Don Ruhl

What Would It Take to Nail a Man to a Cross?

NAILS: The nails needed to hang a man would need to be long, perhaps four to six inches. We may call them nails, but they would be more like spikes.

HAMMER: Moreover, it would take a good-sized hammer to drive the spike-like nails through a man’s hands and feet into the wood.

STRENGTH: Swinging such a hammer and driving that size of a nail into wood could not be done by a weakling.

VERDICT: The man would have to have gone through a trial and sentence pronounced against him.

LAW: Finally there would have to be a law that allowed or demanded this kind of justice.

What Would It Take to Nail the Son of God to a Cross?

If we had been present at the crucifixion, we would have then been able to see the nails driven through His hands and His feet. But were those nails really holding Him to the cross? Was there something else keeping Him there, something spiritual in nature?

Being the Creator of the iron for nails and the hammer head and the Creator of the wood for the hammer handle He could easily disintegrate them, making them of no use in crucifying Him. Yet, that did not happen. It must have been by His choice that He was crucified and remained on the cross until He died.

Is there a human or even a group of humans stronger than He? No. Thus, He could repel any human efforts to crucify Him.

Any government with the ability to make laws and to carry out those laws exists by Jesus Christ, and He even ordains that they exist. Therefore, if He did not want to be crucified, He could simply destroy that nation. Yes, the Romans and the Jews conspired together to kill Him, but they played into His hands and the hands of the Father without knowing it.

Yet, He was crucified. Nails were driven through His hands and feet. The Romans did use a hammer to drive the nails. The Romans were men of strength. He had gone through six trials and was condemned at most of them. Why?

Was everything (the law, the verdict, the strength, and the hammer) behind the nails, holding Him to the cross, finally able to overpower the Son of God? What were the real nails that put Jesus on the cross? You see, Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified, because the real nails that held Him to the cross were not made of metals, but were spiritual.

Matthew 26:51–53 demonstrates for us that Jesus could have stopped the crucifixion merely by calling on the angels,

And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

The Nail of Love

John 15:13 reveals the greatest thing that one friend can do for another, which Jesus did for us, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Men hated Jesus, but their hate did not declare Him worthy of crucifixion and drive the nails through His body. His love for us drove Him to the cross. His love for us kept Him on the cross. For once He had begun to go through the awful pain we certainly could not blame Him, if He had decided to come down from the cross. Yet, His love caused Him to endure the physical pain for six hours till He died.

The Nail of Obedience

It is true that the Romans crucified Jesus at the instigation of the Jews, and both of those parties were held accountable for their wicked deed (Acts 2). It is also true that the Romans and the Jews were only able to crucify Jesus because He and the Father allowed it. From John 10:17, 18 the reader learns that the Father had given Jesus a command to die on the Roman cross and He was obedient to His Father,

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

The Nail of Our Sin

Again we agree, that, literally speaking, the Romans and the Jews crucified Jesus Christ, yet as I have shown you both the Father and the Son allowed it to happen. Why? We say that it was love for us, and that Jesus was obeying His Father. Why was it a sign of love? We committed sin. Romans 6:23 is blunt, but truthful, showing that our sin brought something horrible upon us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When Jesus died in our place He provided a way for us to escape death, the second death. This was the way decreed by the Father, and Jesus was obedient to His Father. The Romans and the Jews certainly were not the only ones in the history of the world to have sin. From Romans 4:25 we quickly come to the realization that you and I are also guilty of sin, meaning that Jesus died in our place also, so that our sin is also responsible for His crucifixion, for Jesus, “… was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

The Nail of the Testimony of Jesus

How could people kill the loving Jesus? John 7:7 gives the answer, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” We could say that it was the hate of the world that crucified Jesus, but what I am wanting us to see here is that what ignited their hate for Him was the preaching of the carpenter. He offended them with the truth, telling them that their works were evil. This was a way to open their eyes that they might see their own sin and be drawn to Him who could forgive their sin. However, John 3:19–21 reveals the typical response of the world to exposure of its sin,

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

The Nail of the Fulfillment of Scripture

It had been prophesied that Jesus would suffer, even that He would be crucified. Isaiah 53:4–6 clearly brought to light His suffering, though it did not reveal exactly how He would suffer,

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Psalm 22 is so accurate concerning the crucifixion and the suffering that Jesus would experience centuries later that we wonder how He managed, knowing that the agonies expressed in this psalm would one day be His. Notice especially verses 14–17, which are very vivid about a crucifixion,

I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.

These are just two of the many Old Testament prophecies of the One who would die for us. Jesus Christ had to die to fulfill what had been prophesied concerning Him, “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Mt. 26:54).

His love should make us love. First John 4:19 comes right out and teaches this truth, “We love because He first loved us.” Is this not true? Show me a person who knows the love of Christ and I will show you a person who loves. He who does not love does not know Christ. As it is written in verses 7 and 8 in the same chapter, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Therefore what John said in verse 11 is inescapable, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

His obedience wipes out all of our excuses for disobedience. Jesus never did anything wrong. He had every reason not to go the cross. He did go because the Father wanted the Son to do it. In John 4:34, with a simple statement Jesus summarized His life and ministry, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Should not our lives be described in the same way? Who thinks that he can give a good reason for not obeying the Father? Our sin shames us, driving us to change. If you fully understand that Jesus died for your sin, does that not make you want to change? If someone died for you, saving you from some foolish action, would you continue to do that foolish thing? Then why keep sinning?

How can we expect Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sin, if we are not ashamed of our sin? Jeremiah 6:15 chided the Jews because they committed sin, but were not ashamed of it, and so the Lord pronounces doom for them,

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down.

His testimony frees us, showing us our problem. Have you known someone who learned that a certain behavior (for example, smoking or drinking) has given them a fatal disease, but they continue the behavior? What did you think? Did it not seem like they were in bondage to that behavior? Jesus has told us that our works are evil, bringing on the ultimate spiritual disease death. What does He think if we just continue to do it and to justify it? Does it not show that we are in bondage to that sin still? Romans 6:12–16 lays it out for us, that we cannot let sin be our master, but we must present ourselves to the proper master,

 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?

Even as Scripture was fulfilled in His death, so will Scripture be filled in our deaths. God spoke plainly through the prophets about the death of Jesus Christ. From John 5:28, 29 you will see that God has also spoken plainly through the New Testament what shall happen to us.

 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

It is up to you.

220 NE Savage Street • Grants Pass • Oregon • 97526-1310 • 541-476-3100 •


5 thoughts on “The nails of the crucifixion

  1. In order that GOD, our FATHER and CHRIST be further Glorified, may I humbly propose, that the following sentence be re-phrased as follows:

    (1) Original Sentence

    “Yes, the Romans and the Jews conspired together to kill Him, but they played into His hands and the hands of the Father without knowing it.”

    (2) Proposed Sentence:

    “Although men conspired to kill CHRIST, it was GOD’s Sovereign Will, that through CHRIST’s death on the Cross, the World might be Saved. (John 3:16, John 1:29)”

    • Tong,

      Thank you for your thoughts, and while it is true that the Romans and the Jews did conspire to kill Jesus, in fulfillment of Psalm 2, it is also true that this was all part of God’s plan, which is what I implied.


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