"HAVE YOU SEEN THE NAILS?"
"…Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails…I will not believe" (Jn. 20.25)
INTRO.: The text was written and the tune was composed both by Joe Gregory, who was born in Marietta, OH, on May 19, 1949, the son of Bob and Doris (Miller) Gregory. When he was one month old, his family moved to Cleveland, OH, where they lived until 1963 when his parents decided to move to Athens, AL, to enroll him and his younger sister in Athens Bible School. They had seen so many parents lose their children to worldliness that they felt a better environment was needed to keep that from happening to their own children. In Athens, his father was one of the three brethren instrumental in establishing the Jackson Drive congregation when the congregation they were attending divided over the issue of institutionalism, and he served as an elder there for a number of years. It was at Athens Bible School that Joe came under the influence of the late A. J. Rollings, who instilled within him a love of poetry and verse. Attending Florida College from 1967 to 1969, he graduated from Athens College, in Athens, AL, in 1971. His wife is the former Linda Headrick.
Through the years Joe has worked at a number of different types of jobs, from credit and collections, bank auditor, controller and administrator of a small hospital, construction work, life insurance agent, dishwasher, and most recently as a philatelist with H. E. Harris and Company. While working as an auditor, the desire to preach became such that he quit his job to go into full time preaching. Seeing the devastation of sin in people’s lives as he uncovered fraud among bank employees made him feel that he had to try to do something. He preached full time in Ashland, KY, and in Stevenson, AL, before deciding that he was probably not ready or mature enough to handle the problems that he was confronted with. However, he found himself preaching again along with his secular job when the church in Gadsden, AL, divided, and was left without a preacher. A job change forced a move back to Athens, AL, where after a while he preached part time for about three years with the Beulah congregation in rural Limestone County and later part time in Shoals Bluff, TN, for another year or two. Since then, his preaching has been limited to a fill in basis when a local preacher is away.
While he was working a second job (the one as a dishwasher) Joe began trying to write his first song. However, while he had written the words and composed a melody, he found he was unable to put a harmony with his song. It was two years later that he attended song leading classes under R. J. Stevens (b. 1927). Brother Stevens harmonized four or five songs for him, one of which was "Have You Seen The Nails." Concerning this hymn, Joe wrote, " It…came as a result of a rather intense (at least for me) observance of the feast [the Lord’s supper]. I was visualizing the scene of the beating of Christ, the mocking of Christ, and finally, the nails being driven through his hands. I ‘saw’ them drive the nails into one hand, and the image was so vivid in my mind that I actually turned away in tears, unable to watch as they drove the nails into the other hand….Anyway, it was then that I wrote the words to ‘Have You Seen the Nails.’" It was copyrighted in 2002 and published in a small booklet of Songs of Reflection by the author. Joe also wrote, "I have loved singing since a young child. I remember many singings that were held in our home, some of which went later into the night than my bedtime. My dad was an excellent song leader, who was often the one asked to lead songs that nobody else seemed to know. I led my first song years before I was a teenager, probably at eight or nine years of age." Among other hymnbooks published by brethren during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it has not appeared and is not found in any to my knowledge.
The song centers our attention on the death of Christ for our sins.
I. Stanza 1 focuses on the pain that Jesus suffered
"Have you seen the nails that were used to nail my Lord
To the old, rugged cross of Calvary?
Did you watch as the hammers drove those awful nails
Into the hands of the one who died for me?"
A. The instrument upon which Jesus sacrificed His life as an atonement for our sins was a cross: Jn. 19.17-18
B. The place where this occurred was called Golgotha in the Hebrew, but our common English versions retain the Latin name of Calvary in one passage: Lk. 22.33
C. Arguments have arisen over the shape of the cross and the location of Golgotha, but the important thing to remember is that Jesus died for us: Rom. 5.8
II. Stanza 2 focuses on the blood that Jesus shed
"Did you see the crown that they placed upon His head,
When He shed precious blood upon the tree?
Did you hear as they mocked and bid Him to come down,
When Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary?"
A. Another aspect of the suffering of Christ in His death was the crown of thorns that was placed upon His head: Mk. 15.16-20
B. Still another aspect of His shame was the mocking that took place while He hung on the cross: Matt. 27.39-43
C. Yet all of this was an essential part of His dying for us and did not deter Him from His goal of shedding His precious blood to redeem us: 1 Pet. 1.18-19
III. Stanza 3 focuses on the anguish that Jesus bore
"Did you hear our Lord as He groaned upon the tree,
When He cried, ‘Why have You forsaken Me?’"
Did you feel His great anguish when He bore our sins,
When Jesus died on the cross for you and me?"
A. His great anguish was evidenced by His cry to God: Mk. 15.33-34
B. The reason for this great anguish was that He was bearing our sins: 1 Pet. 2.24
C. Yet, again, while it evokes great sadness and sorrow on our part, this anguish was necessary in order for Jesus to die for our sins: 1 Cor. 15.3
CONCL.: The chorus continues to make personal application of these things to us.
"Have you seen the nails that they used to crucify
Jesus Christ, our Lord, on Calvary?
Have you shed a tear, has it ever made you cry
That Jesus suffered there for you and me?"
Since the purpose of the Lord’s supper is to show forth the Lord’s death till He comes again, this would be an excellent song to prepare our minds for partaking of it, as we ask each other, "Have You Seen the Nails?"