By Ron Davis

Piercings are popular.

It started with the ear lobe . . . and worked its way up . . . and down.

But piercing is not new. And it did not come from good or noble precedent.

03_Communion_JNThe notoriously vicious Assyrians, in ancient times, took their captives home by inserting a hook through the cheeks of those captives. Keep up, or else, as you are dragged along!

In fact, many cultures, ancient and modern “marked” their captives as slaves by a ring in the nose or ear. It was always the sign of an ultimate death penalty.

And piercing—of a different sort—was common in ancient warfare. Knives, arrows, swords, spears, and axes—all were piercing weapons. When gunpowder was discovered, the piercings became even more efficient and possible at more than an arm’s length and an arm’s strength. The piercings were always designed to accomplish one objective: the death of the one pierced.

Mary, on the joyous occasion of the presentation of her firstborn son at the temple as dedicated to the Lord, was given the sad piercing news: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34, 35). At the very moment 33 years later, as a calloused Roman soldier pierced the side of Jesus on the cross, simply to ascertain his death (John 19:34), the maternal sword of aching love and sadness pierced the very soul of Mary.

And John, as he stood at the cross watching the water and blood flow from the side of Jesus (John 19:35), could not but recall and exclaim the words of Zechariah: “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).

Here we stand, with visions of that pierced and bleeding body; here we mourn for him as if he were our only child; here we grieve for him as we would for a firstborn son.

Piercings are popular. Let every decorative piercing you see this week not cause your head to shake in disappointment or dismay. Let each bring your thoughts to the humiliating and life-sapping piercings inflicted on the head and back, the hands, the side, the feet of our Lord who was pierced so that we might be made whole!

Ron Davis loves “standing at the cross” reverently and thankfully each week at the Lord’s table of grace and sensing God’s love.

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