The Sixth Station: Finishing Nails

April 10, 2014 § 1 Comment

006-nailedJesus is nailed to the cross, and  if we are living Lent faithfully we cannot look away. We must watch as soldiers pierce our Lord. How can we take in this terrible reality?

I’m  reflecting on nails. Nails are the smallest part in this horrible scene.

We know Jesus must have worked with nails. He was a carpenter, just like his father. Millay’s painting Christ In The House of His Parents, helps us to see a young Jesus starting to learn his trade. In 1850’s London, the painting was called ugly. Critics like Charles Dickens did not want to see this image of Jesus: a vulnerable child in a dirty workshop, bleeding from a hand nicked on an exposed nail.

 When I first read their criticism of this painting,  I dismissed Dickens and the rest of these critics as old-fashioned and ridiculous. I didn’t understand their outrage. With more reflection, I’ve started to see how hard it is to have your personal vision of Jesus challenged or changed.

That’s why I’m stuck thinking about nails.

Most of us are not  carpenters, but we know that nails finish things off. Nails close boxes. Nails hold the roof on tight and nails secure the doorjamb.

The nails in Jesus’ hands are different. These nails didn’t close anything. The nails don’t end the story. Instead the nails open Jesus’ arms in a loving embrace.

As Easter gets closer, the nails and Millay’s painting can remind us to re-consider how we see Jesus. Looking at the nails can lead us to his open arms.

May the wounded hands of Jesus shape us and hold us, guiding us toward the glory that will come. Amen.

– Chris Phillips


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