Christianity is an intellectually-derived religion, with facts to be believed and commands to be obeyed. It is also an emotionally-stimulated religion: The REASON you obey the commands and the REASON to you turn your entire life over to a Man named Jesus is because you become emotionally invested in Him.
When you hear what He did for you, you are moved by emotion. You have to be: Christianity is, as much as anything else ,a religion of the heart. Not your mind; your emotions.
And when you go to the cross, your emotions are supposed to be stirred. Whether it’s your first time contemplating Calvary or you one millionth time; whether you’re a non-Christian hearing the Golgotha account or a 100 year old man having heard it your whole life; if you go to the cross and you’re not moved something is wrong.
But there’s another reason we go to the cross. It’s because we were there.
Maybe not literally, maybe not physically, but we were there.
on the cross as Jesus died
the wrath God was satisfied
for EVERY SIN on him was laid
here in the death of Christ I live
EVERY sin. That means Adam’s sin; that means the sins of the people around Jesus; that means the sin of the very last person to ever live; that means the sins of strangers I’ll never know on the other side of the world; and that means my sins too.
The title of this article is: “Where you there when the crucified my Lord?” And I guess I just answered it. Yes you were and so was I. But let’s consider HOW you were there.
It was a very eclectic group that gathered around Golgotha. I want to notice FOUR kinds of people and ask the question: “which one am I?”
Where you there?
THE I-ME-MY MOB WAS THERE
This is the crowd of politicians, religious leaders, yes men, cowards, schemers, and scoundrels. This was the group, above all else, concerned with their position of influence in the community.
This was the group of people, long before Jesus came on the scene, who were used to having their way. The scribes would memorize the law, and scrutinize their fellow man accordingly. The Pharisees would add to the law and persecute their fellow man accordingly.
For a very long time no one dared to stand up to them. They had the rulers of the people in their hip pocket; many of them WERE the rulers of the people. So if you dared to go against them you were signing your own death warrant.
Like some weird Stockholm syndrome, the people that were held philosophically captive to these leaders just took to accepting them and turning to them for all their needs (feeding the ego of this I-me-my group). They didn’t love the people; they loved the power they conned the people into giving them (in other words…politicians).
And then here comes Jesus.
He’s not intimidated by these people; He made the universe! He’s not scared of these people; He rained down fire on Sodom and Ghmorrah! He’s not impressed by these people; He split the Red Sea wide open! And He certainly isn’t intellectually challenged by these people; He IS the Word.
And so He would rebuke them, scald them, mock them, publicly ridicule them.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Notice how Jesus started with a recognition of the Pharisees’ and scribes’ authority: They do sit in Moses seat, because that’s where the people put them. Elections have consequences if you will. But then He adds the big disclaimer: Do what they say, but not because they are inspiring leaders. They’re not; they’re frauds – they command…but don’t do.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
They lay burden after burden on you, but they wont lift a finger to HELP anyone. And on the occasions that they are doing something, it’s only to be seen of men.
That word “phylactery” refers to a little piece of scripture written on paper. They would fold it up and put it in a box and tie it around their head like a headband. They got that from Moses in Deuteronomy 6, who told them to take the word and “bind it to your hands and between your eyes.” Moses just meant “read God’s Word” but the people came to take it literally. So it would not be uncommon to see a Jew with a little box/headband on.
But the scribes and Pharisees, being obsessed with public perception, just had to have the biggest box of scripture on their forehead that they could find.
I, me, my – look at me.
The “enlarging of the garments” goes back to a tradition of wearing clothing not associated with the heathen, so they made sure to wear the most spectacular clothing found. In other words, they cared more about being SEEN as righteous than actually being righteous.
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
So Jesus says “don’t call them Rabbi…don’t exalt these people. Woe to them…hypocrites!” He says that three times back to back to back, And each time He would dress them down He would gain one more follower…and they would lose one more follower.
And with their I-Me-My ego being challenged, they feared. In fearing Him they grew to hate Him. In hating Him they became obsessed with Him. And in their obsession they drove themselves to plot to kill Him.
The I-ME-MY mob, more worried about their own reputation than the salvation of Christ, was there when they crucified the Lord.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
THE REMORSELESS ROMANS WERE THERE
We call them that because these men didn’t care who Jesus was or claimed to be. The scribes and Pharisees certainly cared: That’s what drove their hatred. But the Romans – the soldiers — they didn’t care.
Jesus was just one of thousands they had nailed to a cross, so their treatment of Him was exactly as they would treat any person (and it is gruesome and vile).
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
Scourged refers to being lashed with the roman whip. It was a whip plaited at the tip with bits of bone and glass so that every piercing against His back would dig in like claws. Then the soldier would whip it back and rip the victim’s back open like confetti.
They took thorns, sharp and thick, long enough to twist and ply, and stabbed it on His head; the Roman soldier knows no gentleness.
The draped the robe on Him, which soaked against the blood of His back. Later, when they removed the robe, the wounds on His back would again rip open.
They struck Him with their hands; Isaiah says they ripped the hair of His beard right off His face.
And all this is done, so that Pilate could say He finds no fault in Him. Makes you wonder how they treat the guilty if this is how they treat the innocent?
These are a people devoid of honor, decency, compassion, feeling. They lack courtesy for anyone, even the Son of God and Man. No I take that back…they’re not all heartless: There are two noted exceptions.
One is the soldier at the foot of the cross, witness to the death of the Savior:
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Maybe he was one who earlier had beaten Him up. Maybe he twisted the thorns in His crown. Maybe he cracked the whip. Or maybe he was just standing around, but at some point he saw the cross, and he was moved with emotion.
The other good-hearted soldier is written of during the LIFE of Jesus:
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
My Lord who knows the hearts of all those He meets, knows when you’re lying to Him; He knows when you’re flattering Him vainly and when you’re honest. This Roman soldier was honest.
Here was a centurion in charge of 100 soldiers, yet he humbles himself and puts his trust in Christ. I’ve heard it speculated that this was the same centurian that at the end is saying “this was the son of God.” I don’t think so – since that seems to be a person who is just coming to understand that.
Here the centurion already knows it. Still though, you have two who defied their environment and the status quo and chose to turn their hearts over to Christ, when all the other Romans were remorseless as they crucified my Lord.
THE BURDENED BYSTANDER WAS THERE
And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
Normally you carry your own cross, though not actually the full cross as the paintings depect. Typically the guilty party carried the cross beam, the patibulum, which they would nail to the vertical beam, and then nail you to both. Most men died on the way to the cross.
If the scouraging itself didn’t kill them first.
So now you see the toughness of my Lord; He survived the scourging – which many did not. He survived the journey – which many did not. And He endured the crucifixion until HE was ready to die.
But still, He couldn’t carry the cross alone. And I don’t think theres a metaphore there; I don’t think there’s some grand understanding to take from it other than to look through the eye of faith and see this Man, beaten and bloody and battered, and so abused that His physical body just could not move under the weight of that cross (OUR CROSS) on His back.
So the soldiers found a person just standing on the sideline. Don’t make this man a hero; the only thing we know about him is that he was COMPELLED to help carry the cross. The word means “forced to serve.”
He was drafted. He didn’t volunteer. He wasn’t moved with compassion. The cross was a burden that he didn’t want. He didn’t want to get involved. He was made to carry the cross, forced into it by those around him. That’s a far cry from what Jesus said:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
“I’m taking up MY cross – now you take up yours. I’m going to die for you, will you die for Me? Will you volunteer? Will you step out into the heat of the action? Will you be moved with compassion at the sight of Me, beaten and bloody, carrying the cross for you?”
This man is a bystander, someone on the sideline, forced to play a role. Jesus wants you moved emotionally. So tell yourself: I can’t stand here; I have to act.
And after you say that, take up your cross and go. Go to where they crucified my Lord. Were you there? A lot of different kinds of people were there.
THE I-ME-MY MOB WAS THERE
THE REMORSELESS ROMANS WERE THERE
THE BURDENED BYSTANDER WAS THERE
THE WEEPING WOMEN WERE THERE
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Weeping: because they were sad, because they loved Him, because of the injustice of it all, because of the pain He was enduring, because He was enduring it for them (for them, because of them, in order to obtain them).
And so – moved with emotion – they wept. And theres no shame in it; I’ve thought of the cross and wept. I can only imagine actually seeing it with human eyes. Had I been there, I’m sure I too would have wept a thousand tears.
You see, when you go to the empty tomb…your heart is supposed to leap.
When you go to the garden…your heart is supposed to melt.
But when you go to the cross…your heart is supposed to break.
So who are you?
Are you the self-absorbed I-ME-MY person, too caught up with your own life to turn it over to Christ? Will you let go, and let God take control?
Are you the remorseless Roman who doesn’t have time to care about Christ, or will you be like the two centurions whose hearts were pricked by the Lord?
Are you the person on the sideline, compelled to carry the cross, or will you be the one who volunteers to carry your own cross and follow Him.
Go to Calvary, where they crucified my Lord: Weep there, see the Savior who died for you and turn your life to Him.
Think about it,
have a great day!