“Were you there when they crucified my Lord, were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh… Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
So asks the old spiritual. Profoundly simple. Simply profound! It asks us to look deeply into the mystery that is the cross. So, what do you say, dear reader, in answer to this question? Were you there? Do you know you were there?
Indeed, mysteriously, metaphysically, the cross is my story. It is everyone’s story, if we can only see it as such.
At first glance, we may only see the cross in historical and physical terms, first of all. It has always been seen as a device of torture and execution from the ancient world. There is conjecture on the matter as to whether or not it was a device invented by the Romans, or if crucifixion was also more broadly and anciently practiced in other cultures. People that see the cross this way often ask, why do you wear that crucifix? It’s a very “negative” symbol. But is it really just that? Is there something more?
The natural history of the cross is not really the issue. The supernatural history of the cross is the issue! The question really remains a spiritual one: was I there, were you there when they crucified our Lord? How do you see yourself in relationship to that cross?
Let’s briefly revisit the cross in its natural setting. Its uses included putting to death thieves, rebels, insurrectionists, criminals, and other political and social undesirables of all sorts, in the judgement of the government of the ancient Roman Empire.
The cross was a place where rebellion ended, in no uncertain terms, as far as the occupational forces of Rome were concerned in any land the empire conquered. These brutal executions were public events, and reminders to all about who ruled the roost and what would happen to trouble making dissenters.
Does that ring any bells, strictly from the perspective of the cross being the place where rebellion ends? Let’s explore further.
Even the cross’s natural and repugnant use ought to depict something to us concerning our ancient skeletons in the closet. In the beginning, we were the insurrectionists, complicit in a cosmic coup set against our Heavenly Father, His Kingdom, and His divine plan for our uninterrupted eternal Good.
But someone was insanely jealous of that idea. Ultimately we were “tricked” through this very cunning, hateful, and jealous adversary into rebellion. We fell for the treachery and swallowed the idea. We were complicit in a crime against ourselves, odd as that may seem – the first crime against humanity. How sweet that first bite must have seemed, but how hard and fast the plunge into captivity to sin, death, and the spell of our adversary the devil, was the result.
We bit off more than we could chew!
You can laugh at this if you want to, but the rest, as they say, is history. This is the real reason things have gone the way they have, since the children of God were tricked into giving away their birthright and their world to fallen angels who coerced them into a rebellion against their Father and against themselves. Crazy, isn’t it? A story mirrored over and over again throughout history…
Yet our Heavenly Father’s unconditional and everlasting love is such that He could not let this stand. He could not bear to see His children kidnapped, taken captive, held prisoner, blinded, programmed, maimed, crippled, and enslaved by this arch fiend and his hordes!
There was then devised a divinely shrewd plan, that by faith when we behold ourselves crucified in and through our Elder Brother Jesus Christ on that cross, dead, but more importantly resurrected to new life in Him, and say yes to His gift, and commit ourselves and our will to Him, we are set free from sin, death, the world, the flesh, and our “captors” to resume the life in glory enjoyed before this rebellion in which we were complicit ever occurred!
Jesus Christ Himself, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God, would take upon Himself our sin and put it to death on the cross. Moreover His blood paid the ransom note on our heads whereby we could walk away from the stranglehold of darkness and into a whole new life!
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Restored to full sonship in other words!
In other words He, the One Who was sinless, took upon Himself our sin-full rebelliousness and its results, and crucified these in His own body on the cross.
We the human former insurrectionist component of that ancient coup can therefore say with a resounding yes, that we were there when they crucified our Lord!
We can then re-affirm every day, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Thanks be to God! Jesus took upon Himself the burden of all the sin of humanity, from the beginning of time to the end of all things, put it to death in the cross, and offers His own new Life to us through the Holy Spirit.
So we revisit the question, were you there when they crucified my Lord? Do you see yourself by faith dead through that cross but made alive through His resurrection?
May our Heavenly Father open to us the inner eye of faith to perceive His remarkable gift, receive it, and live within its reality, now and throughout all eternity.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but that’s an offer I can’t refuse – Jesus has taken me from insurrection to resurrection! Thanks be to God for His unfathomable love for us all! May our eyes be open to perceive and receive it!