By the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, the Romans had perfected this type of execution to a kind of bizarre and sadistic, art form. A model of efficiency. Nails were places between the wrist bones of the victim which added the bonus of pressing against the median nerve, adding another layer of pain. The feet were pinned through the heels, and to conserve steel they designed a way to do it with only one nail. It was effective. No one came off a cross alive.
But let’s make no mistake. The square, iron spikes were not the thing that kept Jesus on the cross. It was something much more powerful.
George Matheson was a Scottish minister in the mid-1800’s. A brilliant young man, he graduated from the University of Glasgow at age 19. All the more remarkable since just a few years before, the doctors told him he was going blind.
Matheson was completely sightless when he finished seminary. Upon his completion, his fiancée returned his engagement ring with a note: “I cannot see my way clear to go through life bound by the chains of marriage to a blind man.”
He eventually adapted to his sightless world, but he never married and never got over his broken heart. His ministry was powerful, and Matheson was a brilliant, poetic and influential minister.
Occasionally the pain of his broken heart would flare up in inconsolable pain, as it did at his sister’s wedding. In response to this heartache, he turned to the unending love of God for his comfort. On June 6, 1882, he wrote these words:
O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow, may richer, fuller be.
The nails of Rome pinned Jesus to the cross at Calvary. But the chains of God’s unending love held Him there. It would not let Him go.
And He will not let you go.