Were You There? Kendall Lankford

March 30, 2018


An old negro spiritual once asked:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!

And I believe we must ask ourselves this same question today. 

Were you there?

Were you there to see the soldiers twisting together the crown of thorns and putting it on His head? And by “put” let's all be honest. They did not place them there. They did not rest them gently. They twisted these razor sharp, 3 inch long thorns, into a cursed looking crown, and then shoved these crown shaped daggers onto the fleshy crown of His perfect head. These men permanently affixed a blatant symbol of mockery upon His innocent brow.

Were you there?

Were you there when they draped a purple garment upon His back? A back with no skin to cover it? Raw meat and organs exposed; blanketed only by a dirty purple rag, no protection from infection, no sympathy, just insult upon insult heaped upon the one and only King.

Were you there?

Were you there as the soldiers went on taunting Him. Shouting “Hail, king of the Jews” with no real clue to irony of their words.

Were you there?

Were you there when they beat Him? When they slapped the Son of God upon His face?

Were you there?

Were you there when they forced Him to stand, parading Him in front of the religious leaders, who did not mourn for Him, and had no compassion for Him, but instead shouted:

"Crucify Him! Crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar; Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

It seems no one saw the irony latent in there words.

Were you there?

Did you shout? Did you cry: Crucify Him? Crucify Him?

were you there?

Were you there when they took this mangled man, barely able to stand, and made Him carry His cross, naked, through the streets? Could you see Him collapsing in the streets? Staggering up that wretched hill? 

Were you there?

Were you there when they hammered Him, limb by limb, to that wooden board of death. The very board He had just struggled to carry. Could you hear the pounding clank of hammer and nails, piercing the skin of His wrists, lodging nails between the radius and ulna, so that the weigh of His body would be supported on those two bones. Did you know that last spike was coming? The one they drove into His feet? The one that He woud use to push his exasperated body up just long enough to take a faint and shallow breath?

Were you there?


Were you there to witness His Asphyxiation? For as his body weakened and began to sag on the cross, increasing pressure was mounting upon His diaphragm, causing Him to suffocate. Could you hear the wheezing, choking, coughing above the crowd? Could you see the bitter anxiety of breathlessness, that look that all men give when they long to breathe! Panic stricken, fighting for air, using His swollen nail-pierced feet, pushing His exposed back up the rough cut splintered board, to gain His final breaths. 

Were you there?


Were you a face in the crowd that friday afternoon? Standing there watching? Could you see the soldiers gambling for His clothing? Could you hear His mothers sob’s? And could you make out the final words coming from his mouth?

Were you there?

Were you there when they crucified our Lord? Were you there?

And we must answer yes.

We were there. Maybe not physically. But it was our sin that hung Him there. Jesus Christ felt the weight of what we have done pressed down upon Him. Our rebellion killed Him. So when the crowd of chanters shouted Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Our voice rings out against Him too.  

We were there!

"We were there... But, not as spectators only, as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing Him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate, but our attempts will be futile... Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, leading us to faith and worship, we must see it as something done by us, leading us to repentance... Only the man or woman who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace." - C.J. Mahaney

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