An Open Door
A hand, aged by sun and time, is raised toward heaven clinching a paleo hammer of sorts. His muscles contract, and by gravities grace this hand enters a collision course with earth. The sharp ring of stone, smacking the uneven face of a final protruding nail, reverberates the eardrums of this determined man.
An undermined length of time has raced by during this man’s epic construction project. However, those days behind are long forgotten. All that matters now is the simple fact that the time has come. His job is complete.
He, and those close to him, anxiously fortify themselves behind the walls of the structure; unaware of the impending reality they will soon confront. His obedience has led him to build this behemoth of a place, not truly understanding its purpose, or use.
Suddenly, a loud creaking noise echoes down wood corridors. The screech seems to be coming from the side of the edifice in which they entered. Slowly, nervously, Noah peeks around the corner of a supporting beam, toward the doorway he fashioned. The door is moving; not by the hand of man, but by the hand of God.
The cross was a relatively simple instrument comprised of two pieces: an upright post (stipe) and a crossbeam (patibulum). Typically, the post was permanently secured in the ground outside the city, and the crossbeam would be mounted each crucifixion anew. While the process of crucifixion was not invented by the Romans, they no doubt perfected it. Early on, the cross was used to execute war prisoners and slaves, and so the evolution of the cross ensued.
History tells us that the cross was typically reserved for slaves who had committed a crime. The word Patibulum is Latin and is comprised of pati– literally meaning: to open and the Latin suffix –bulum meaning: an instrument. So, in short, a patibulum was an instrument used to open something, and in most cases, a door. Originally it was the name of the bar that would be placed in front of a door to secure the door against vandals (no doubt you’ve probably seen a variation of a patibulum in those wood beams that either slide across a door or are placed on mounts on the door). Allegedly, the patibulum from the home of the master would be used to crucify his slave, although there is doubt to this claim.
As the procession of death peaked Golgotha, Simon dropped the sturdy patibulum to the ground. A small cloud of dust rose has Jesus’ body was thrown into its midst. Two soldiers secured each arm and drove a nail through the small gap between the radius and the ulna bones, just below Jesus’ wrist. The median nerve screamed. Muscles taut; cascading blood.
At Calvary, Jesus was nailed to a piece of wood that meant: an instrument to open; an instrument literally used to open a door, and so it did. The door to eternal life opened when the blood stained patibulum was lifted.
I love the story of Noah’s Ark for a plethora of reasons, which span throughout the account, but one of my favorite aspects of the account is the door. Genesis 7:16 says, “And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.” The NLT says, “Then the Lord closed the door behind them.” So we can read this two ways, either Noah was careless and forgot to close the door, improbable, or he could not close it. I ascribe to the latter.
Allow your mind to ponder this for a few moments (a Selah, as the Psalmist would say). Noah built an ark and put a door on the place that he could not close. To give him a break, there wasn’t exactly a thriving economy for ark building back in his time. This was literally the prototype. (The Wright Brother’s first powered flight lasted 12 seconds, 120 feet, and it was considered a success; I think Noah holds his own quite well.)
Anyways, Noah and his family get in this floating warehouse, and God closes the door right in their face (And to think you thought you were the only one in that club). So often we talk about open doors and the great things God is doing in people’s lives. We preach about opportunities, pay raises, new houses, cars, jobs, friends; as human beings we tend to like the good stuff. All the while, however, we must remember a door works two ways. The same door that prevents the bulgar can also aid his larceny.
God opens doors; He’s the miracle marker. It is all true, but he’s also well aquatinted with closing doors. If God has ever closed a door in your life, keep this in mind: Noah built an ark to save his life, however, if the door were left open, everyone would have died. Sometimes the greatest aspect of God’s providence comes via a closed door. This article isn’t a pity party about having doors slammed in your face, however, because, at the end of the day, God opens the right doors.
The greatest door that was ever opened wasn’t even really a door at all. Jesus hung on a cross, suspended from a patibulum. In those moments, the hand of God was reaching for the handle of the door that leads to eternal life. If lately life seemed to be full of closed doors, missed opportunities, resulting in a maze with no exit, please allow me to remind you today that there is an open door in your life that leads to eternal life. There is an open door.
Powell, M. A. (2011). Cross. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition.). New York: HarperCollins.
J.B.T. (1996). Cross, Crucifixion. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Easton, M. G. (1893). Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Barbet, P. (1953). A doctor at Calvary; the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as described by a surgeon,. New York: Kenedy.
Young J. (2012). Crushed: A physician analyzes the agony of Jesus. Glass Road Media.