WERE YOU THERE?
When Judas brought soldiers with lamps and torches and weapons to arrest Jesus in the garden; when He gave Himself over to them; when He rebuked Peter for striking the high priest’s servant, WERE YOU THERE?
When the soldiers brought Jesus to Annas; when the soldier struck Him; when Peter denied Him three times and the cock crowed, WERE YOU THERE?
When they handed Jesus over to Pilate because it was not lawful for them to put Him to death; when the chief priests demanded His death though Pilate found no fault in Him; when the people cried out “Not this man, but Barabbas,” WERE YOU THERE?
When Pilate handed Jesus over to be flogged; when the Romans scourged Him; when they pressed a crown of thorns into His brow; when they arrayed Him in royal purple and beat Him with their fists, WERE YOU THERE?
When Pilate paraded Jesus before the people humiliated, battered, and bloody; when Pilate proclaimed, “Behold the man”; When the chief priests and the officers cried out “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”; when they rejected Jesus – their one true King – and declared, “We have no king but Caesar,” WERE YOU THERE?
When soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross; when they cast lots for His clothes; when He said “It is finished” and gave up His Spirit and died; when the soldier pierced Him in the side, WERE YOU THERE?
When they took Jesus’ body down from the cross; when the wrapped Him in linen clothes; when they laid Him in a borrowed tomb, WERE YOU THERE?
Jesus was betrayed, denied, rejected, and abandoned. We all share the guilt; we all share the shame. But Jesus did not betray us; Jesus did not deny us; Jesus did not reject us; and Jesus has never abandoned us. Jesus handed Himself over; Jesus gave Himself up to humiliation, suffering, and death in our stead. And because He died the death that was ours to die, through the gift of faith in Him we – our fallen sinful fleshly selves – die with Him. Paul wrote in the 6th chapter of Romans:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death… We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
SO, YOU WERE THERE!
When Jesus was betrayed and arrested, YOU WERE THERE!
When Jesus was denied and rejected, YOU WERE THERE!
When Jesus was humiliated, scourged, and beaten, YOU WERE THERE!
When Jesus was nailed to the cross and when He died, YOU WERE THERE!
When they took Him from the cross and laid Him in the tomb, YOU WERE THERE!
YOU WERE THERE! Amen.