Here is something to consider. Isaiah lived around 700 years before the Messiah was born. When Jesus was being crucified might he have been thinking of Isaiah’s words? Was this his rite of passage as the Messiah?
Source of prophetic writings
The prophets don’t just make up things to write. The words they have left us are given to them from the mouth of God. Jesus, known at the time as Jehovah, was revealing the future to his prophet, Isaiah. In Isaiah 49:14-16 He expressed the following sentiments to His servant.
14 But Zion said, The Lord hath me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
15 Can a forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not thee.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Verse 14 describes the sentiment of the Jews at the time of Christ. A Messiah had been promised to them, a deliverer, yet here they were living in subjection to the Roman empire. Prophets had ceased to speak to them for hundreds of years. They felt very much abandoned, wondering where their God had gone to.
Verse 15 is Jehovah’s response to their feelings of neglect and abandonment. In their day and time there was only one way to feed a newborn child. It had to be nursed by its mother. A mother cannot forget to feed her baby. The longer she goes without nursing the more inflamed and sore her breasts become. Her only relief comes from the sucking child relieving the building pressure by pulling the milk out of her.
Jehovah’s comparison is perfect. It is more likely that a nursing mother would “forget” to feed her child than He could forget His people. To illustrate His own inability to forget His people, He says in verse 16 that He has “graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” What does that mean? He is referring to the eternal nail prints in his hands and feet. We are resurrected with a perfect and whole body. When Jesus was resurrected he kept these reminders of his people and the sacrifices he made for them. For all eternity he will bear these scars that represent his love and absolute devotion to the welfare of his people.
These verses show us that Jesus knew at least 700 years before his own birth that he would be nailed to a cross as part of his payment for the sins of his people. This is the only physical reminder in existence that Jesus actually suffered what he says he suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross. That this punishment from his own people would come at the end of his mortal life was always before him long before he was born in Bethlehem.
As Jesus was on the ground and they were pounding those nails into his flesh, might he have been remembering what he, himself told his prophet all those centuries ago? Might he have been rehearsing these words in his head – “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me?”
Jesus’s own people had rejected him, but like he said to his prophet, “they may forget, yet will I not thee.” There was nothing Jesus went through in the last couple of days of his life that didn’t demonstrate anything but his perfect and abiding love for God’s children, and his own devotion to his Father’s will.
The nailing of Christ’s hands and feet were like a rite of passage sealing and demonstrating for all time his place and position as the Redeemer of Israel, the Messiah, their Deliverer. That knowledge wouldn’t have made the pain of having those rough iron nails mercilessly forced through his flesh any less painful. But the knowledge that he was completing the work he had come to earth to accomplish, and that these wounds were his personal testament to his own sacrifice for the welfare of his brothers and sisters, and his obedience to his Father, must have carried with them some sense of satisfaction that he was accomplishing what no one else could have. Those nail prints are his own testament of the sacrifice he made. They are always on display, and forever present before his face, never to be forgotten.
After Christ’s resurrection what is it he does each time he shows himself to anyone? After he identifies himself as the Son of God, he proves it by showing the marks in his hands and feet and inviting all to personally come and feel the prints of the nails for themselves. This is the living proof of his sacrifice for his people. He did this in Jerusalem, and he did it again when he visited the Americas. I can only assume this pattern was repeated in each place the Savior appeared to God’s children.
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