Friday, April 19, 2019

Were You There?

“Were You There” is an Afro-American spiritual often sung at Good Friday services.  Peter Marshall wrote a very moving sermon titled, “Were You There?”  He closed his sermon with these words:  
“More than nineteen hundred years have passed…
The Cross itself has long since crumbled into dust.
Yet it stands again when we choose our own Calvary and
crucify Him all over again, with every sin of commission and omission.
Every wrong attitude…
every bad disposition…
every unkind word…
every ignoble desire…
every unworthy ambition…
Yes, Calvary still stands, and the crowd at the top of the hill.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
I was…Were you?”

The hymn asks us:  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?  Were you there when they pierced him in the side?  Were you there when the sun refused to shine?  Where you there when they laid him in the tomb?  Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.  Were you there when they crucified my Lord.

We have all had the opportunity to be there—I mean really be there—at the Golgotha’s of our society and in our time.  We have all had the opportunity to see “Jesus crucified.” Have you ever fed a hungry person, or given a thirsty person a drink? Then, according to Matthew 25:36ff, You Were There.  “For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was a stranger you took me into your home, when naked you clothed me; when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me.”  Those to whom he spoke asked:  “Lord, when was it we saw you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and gave you drink, a stranger and took you home, or naked and clothed you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and come to visit you?”  And he answered:  “I tell you this:  anything you did for one of my brothers (sisters) here, however humble, you did for me.”

We have all been there.  Did we just stand there and do nothing?  Did we just watch and never say a word?  Did we participate in the ill treatment or the neglect?  “Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”  Were You There when they (notice we always blame somebody else) crucified my (notice how we always take possession and want to claim him as our own) Lord?  

"O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!"
Sir Walter Scott

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