A little boy, playing in the sand, stops to listen. Horses hooves add their beat to that of the hammer and soon other hammers join the rhythm. Men’s voices—some talking, some whistling, and others singing—blend in pleasant welcome. There is a purpose, a mission.
The little boy runs to his father, “Papa! Papa! What are you making? Why do you have all your friends here?” he asks.
The father smiles at his curious son. “We are building a stable for the animals, son,” he replies. “Now run and play. This isn’t a safe place for a little boy.”
Years go by and the little boy, now grown up, tends to the animals and keeps the stable in good repair.
On a dreary day in autumn, he cuts some wood and gets a hammer and some nails. The sound of the hammer pounding nails echoes through the air and a little boy, playing in the leaves, stops to listen. Mice scatter and find a quieter place to nibble.
The little boy runs to his father, “Papa! Papa! What are you making?” he asks.
The father smiles at his curious son. “I’m building a manger for the cow I bought yesterday. She needs a place to eat her hay. Would you like to help?”
The little boy nods and takes hold of the hammer and nails his father offers him. He feels so grown up helping his father in the stable.
Many years later the sound of a donkey’s hooves, walking briskly, echoes through the air. It is a crisp winter night, and they must hurry. It is time.
They pause in front of the inn. The man leading the donkey knocks on the door, awaking the innkeeper from his sleep.
“My wife is pregnant and about to give birth, sir, do you have any room for us?” he pleads.
“I’m so sorry sir, the rooms are all full,” a gray-haired man says apologetically. “Follow me,” he says, leading them down a cobble path, “you should be warm enough in my stable. The animals help keep it from getting too chilly and the stable is well kept.”
“Thank-you, kind sir”, the younger man says, “We are grateful to have a place to stay. Better to give birth in a stable than to be out on the street.”
The young man lifts his swollen wife down from the donkey’s back and carries her into the stable where the older gentleman is preparing a bed in the hay. He drags the manger from the cow’s stall, into the humble birthing room. “A crib for the baby,” he says.
The sound of a hammer, pounding a nail into the stable wall, startles the animals in the stable. The old man creates a hook for the lantern that will give light for the young couple in the night.
A baby’s cry pierces the silent night. The young man takes the lantern from its hook to have a better look at his newborn son. A tear rolls down the young woman’s cheek, as her lips touch face. Her heart beats with love and passion for this new life. He is her son.
The animals stop eating and turn their heads, curious at the unfamiliar sights and sounds.
Throughout his childhood the little boy listens to his father, and watches as he works with his hammer, pounding nails into wood. The little boy talks and laughs with his father as they work side by side.
One day, when the boy becomes a young man, he gives his father and mother a good-bye hug and kiss. “I must go do the work I was born to do,” he says.
Years go by, as the young man moves from place to place, feeding, healing, loving and telling people about His Father.
Then the sound of a hammer pounding nails into wood echoes through the air again. The atmosphere is sad, dark and heavy. There are no singing birds, no sound of horse’s hooves, or men whistling, talking, or singing. No little boys to ask curious question and bring a smile to the man’s face, as he goes about his work.
He didn’t want this job. But he was desperate and they were willing to hire him. So, morbid as it was, he decided to do it. He needed to provide for his family and better to put bread on the table, by building crosses, than to see them starving and destitute.
The carpenter’s son, now in his thirties, runs to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Tears mingled with sweat fall from His face, like drops of blood. “I hear the sound of a hammer, Father. Can’t you take it away? It has been a pleasant sound all my life, must it be the sound of my death as well?”
Then as He listens. Through the ages of eternity He hears the sound of millions of hammers, cursing, condemning and judging… sentencing all of humanity to an eternal death.
Love overtakes Him. His agony has purpose, a mission. He cries out again. “If there is no other way to redeem them I will take this cross. Not my will Father, but Your will be done.”
The Father weeps with His Son, longing to stop the sound of the hammer, but the price is too great. His arms around His Son, He commands an army of angels to strengthen and minister to Him, preparing Him for the sound of the hammer, for it will echo again; not once, not twice, but three times.
The irreverent stomping of soldiers’ boots, shakes the ground, coming to take the young man to be judged for crimes he never committed.
The pounding of the judge’s hammer, striking the wooden table, silences the crowd. Utter silence and anticipation…
A voice breaks the stillness, “Take him, and crucify him. I find no fault in him.”
The thunderous applause of the self-righteous and deeply religious crowd creates an electric atmosphere. There is a purpose. A mission.
The man walks into his chamber. Water splashes over his hands as he scrubs away the blood of an innocent man.
Up on a hillside a hammer, driving nails into a cross, echoes through the air.
The pounding heartbeat of a mother’s love, blends with the hammer. Her tears fall to the ground, water spilling in symbolic passion, as she kneels before the cross.
Not far from her the scoffers stand, laughing and taunting the dying young man, “Well, if you really are the Son of God, save yourself! Come down from that cross and prove to us! Then we’ll believe you!”
The spring sky, once bright and blue, turns black as ominous clouds roll in. Lightening splits the skies. Thunder shakes the earth.
A cry of anguish pierces through the darkness, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!”
One last heavy breath, and then, “It is finished!’ He cries.
A deathly silence falls on the earth. The young man’s heart stops beating. The hammer lies silent.
The devil dances around that cross with great delight. Oh the victory! He calls his demons to join in the celebration. Finally mankind is doomed and hopeless for eternity; destined to be victims of his torment forever. He has conquered the Son of God!
A centurion’s voice shatters the silence, “Surely this was the Son of God!”
The patter of running feet, as the crowd scatters in every direction… questioning… wondering… uncertain what to believe.
Even the scoffers have stopped their laughing. This is no ordinary crucifixion day.
A sword pierces the young man’s side. Blood and water rush down the hill of Golgotha. The place of death.
The devil and his demons flee in terror at the sight of the blood of the Holy One. The place of death has become, suddenly, the promise of life.
The hammer rips the nails from the cross and out of the young man’s hands and feet, tearing at His flesh, ripping at His wounds.
The reverently subdued footsteps of one solitary disciple slip across the hill as he carries the young man’s body to the grave. A large stone scrapes against the tomb as it is rolled in front of the door to seal the His body safely inside.
Several days of silence and darkness reign as hopelessness covers the face of the earth. Family, friends, and followers of the young man, mourn his death. The devil orchestrates a careful guarding of the tomb to ensure the young man will not escape, His body not be removed.
But on the morning of the third day the sun peeks over the horizon, wrapping the world in brilliant light. The birds sing in cheerful chorus. The flowers burst in vibrant colours.
The stone rolls mysteriously away from the tomb and the angels smile at the young man rising from the grave, as if from an ordinary rest.
All creation bursts into song, “He’s Alive! He’s Alive! The Son of God has risen from the grave! He’s Alive! He’s Alive! Christ Jesus will not be death’s slave! He’s Alive! He’s Alive! Hallelujah! He’s Alive!”
The sound of the hammer, is silenced. A new rhythm is heard, echoing across the earth. More powerful than the hammer, it is an unbreakable beat, uninterrupted, and accompanied only by a whisper of Love; it is the heartbeat of Jesus. The never ending, undying invitation to eternal life in Him.
This heartbeat continues for all of time, so that, one day when He is called to bring justice to the world, the Judge’s hammer will shatter. Replaced with the sound of blood and water rushing down over a place of death, it will cover our sins. With one breath we will breathe in eternal life, our heart beating in perfect time with Eternity…
© Trudy Metzger
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