Robert H. Gilbert, Jr.

I have seen many different pictures of Christ hanging from the cross. Each time I look at those pictures, I find myself asking the same question, "Did he scream out in pain, as the nails were hammered into the palms of his hands and feet?" No! As the cross was raised high into the sky, did he tell them they would burn in hell? No! There was no anger in his voice, nor was there hate. Just sorrow. He said in a soft voice, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Could you do this? Can you imagine a nail the size of a railroad spike being hammered into the palms of your hands and feet? Would you say, Iím sorry, I will not do this wrong deed anymore? Probably so. Christ was prepared to die on the cross. He knew his destiny. Would you be prepared to die on a cross and let people throw rocks at you? Would you say, 'Itís okay. I know that you do not understand that I am doing this for you' ... or would you curse them to damnation?

I would like to share with you a story that took place on a Saturday afternoon ó the Saturday before Easter Sunday. I had several chores to do around the house and, being full of energy, I chose to go out to the garage and build a bookcase that my wife had been asking about for months.

I got up early that Saturday morning, made some fresh coffee, watched a few cartoons, and got myself into the mood to do some work in the garage. After an hour or so of cartoons, I decided it was time to go to work. Refreshing my cup, I then headed to the garage. I sat down at my work table, sketched out the drawing of the bookcase, and figured out the dimensions and the number of screws and nails I would need. I got the lumber together, drew the lines to cut, and proceeded to saw out the pieces.

As I was doing this, my oldest son came into the garage and asked what I was doing. I told him I was building a bookcase for Mom. "Why do you ask?" "I have a man I need repaired," he said. "Can you do that for me when you get finished?" "Sure. Give me about another thirty minutes, and Iíll be glad to." If I had known what he was talking about, I probably would have changed my mind. He mumbled a little, then headed back into the house.

He showed up again about ten minutes later. "Are you ready?" he asked. "About another ten minutes or so and Iíll be ready to help you," I said. "Fine. When you get through, maybe I can do it myself." I stopped what I was doing. "Okay, go get your man and I will find the super glue to repair him." I assumed it was one of his toy plastic men.

He came back to the garage and said he did not think that the super glue would work. It would have to be small nails, because big nails would make the holes bigger than they were supposed to be. "Let me look at your man," I said. What he handed me took me by surprise. It was a cross, and the model figure of Jesus. "It fell down off the wall and broke," he said. "Can you fix it?" With a lump in my throat, I told him I would try.

I laid the figure down on my work table, went over to the closet, and found some tiny nails and the tack hammer. I placed one nail in the right palm, one in the left palm, and one in his feet. I took the tack hammer in my hand, then looked up and said, "Please forgive me as I do this."

I began to lightly tap the nail in the right palm, and a tear fell with each stroke of the hammer. By the time I finished with the left palm, the handkerchief I carried was soaked with tears.

Tears flowed freely down upon him as I drove the nail into his feet. I lifted the cross to wipe the tears away, then I thought I saw blood on the table. The tears really fell then. But, as I looked again at the table and then at the cross, I realized that the tears had taken away some of the paint on the cross.

Wiping off the figure of Jesus, then I softly kissed the top of his head. I realized that this was the hardest chore I had ever done. I just sat there bawling like a baby, tears flowing down my cheeks. This is only a figure, I said to myself. He canít feel pain. But, why did I feel so guilty, as if I was crucifying him again?

The sun had been shining through the doorway. But suddenly, there was darkness followed by a bright light ó a light so bright that I had to place my hands over my eyes so I would not be blinded.

Slowly, I took my hands away from my eyes and there, in the doorway of my garage, stood an angel; his arms outstretched and the wind blowing his hair and his robe. I knelt down upon my knees and said, "Forgive me for what I have done to my Father." Then, I heard the Angel say, "Child, do not ask forgiveness for something that was done to our Master a long time ago. He suffered then. But, He does not suffer now. He will suffer and He will cry if, at the end of your journey, you are not by his side." With that, the bright light disappeared and the sun came shining through.

I sat there, for a while, after his visit, just crying and wiping tears away with the handkerchief. An hour or so passed before I got up off my knees and very gently carried the cross of Jesus back into the house. Going to the boyís bedroom, I hung the cross on the wall between their beds. I looked at them and said, "Always keep this cross in your house and Jesus in your heart."

PS. My oldest son has this cross at his familyís house hanging on the wall, in the hallway, between his bedroom and his childrenís room.

© 1993 by Robert H. Gilbert, Jr.
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