my journey – part 31

Can he still feel the nails?

Something that always surprises me about Christians is our fascination with nails.

We imagine the nail-scarred hands.
We craft necklaces out of three nails, fashioned in a cross to remind us.
We sing songs that dramatize and magnify the physical pain of the Cross.

And we ask
almost proudly
“Can he still feel the nails,
every time I fail?
Can he hear the crowd cry ‘Crucify’ again?”

Could it be –
Could it really be –
That we have missed the point of the resurrection so much we don’t understand
that we’ve missed the point?

“Christ died for sins

for all,

the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God.”

He died.

For all.

Can he still feel the nails?

I think Jesus tells us the answer to that:


When we sing those words and our eyes wander to his hands, I see the Jesus – the Jesus who knows the nails, who knows the meaning – the Jesus says, “I left the nails behind. I conquered everything they stood for. Why do you still bring them up?”

This Jesus died 2,000 years ago for your sins and mine. The ones we have committed in the past. The ones we will commit in the future. He bore them to the cross.

The pain he bore,
the shame he took.

And because of that we have life.

Jesus left our sin at the cross so that we could live together with him


Can he still feel the nails?
or is it only you?

Of the many songs that have serious theological issues, this one perhaps bothers me the most. Christ died once, we are told – once for all, erasing the punishment of sin. With what anguish and loss Jesus went to the Cross, and he carried my sin with Him there – My sin, O the Bliss of this glorious thought: My sin not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more…

The fact is that Christ has already paid the price for our sin. He paid the price 2000 years ago on a cross and pays it no longer. He paid once both for the sins you have committed and the sins you will commit. What particularly bothers me about this song, I think, is its blatant use of guilt as a motivator. Instead of promoting our love of Christ and our desire to be like Him as the motivation for a Christlike lifestyle, it instead seeks to make us feel guilty about the pain we have caused Christ and hopes to mitigate that by suggesting that we continue to cause pain with each failure.

It is precisely because of the death of Christ that we no longer have to sing songs like this. It is because of the totality of Christ’s victory over sin that we are able to conquer the guilt and shame of our failures and become new creations in Him. Praise be to God that the nails no longer have power over Him, or over us!

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