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  • Dani Hatfield

We Were There

By Pastor Paula Lawhead


Holy week is like an hourglass nearing the end of an hour. All of the promises God has made throughout the ages, all of the people God has called and changed, all of the encounters with Jesus, all of the waiting and despair and crying out for a Savior are in the final rushes toward the tunnel that leads to the other side. The story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem for the last week of his life is like those last bits of sand finally reaching the narrow tunnel. All things are compressed together and speeding up and pressing forward because the hour has finally come.


The week started with God’s people crying out to be saved and by week’s end Jesus would be dead. It is a gut wrench to put ourselves in the place of those who were there with Him. Confusion and loss of hope fueled the disciples’ decision to lock themselves away in fear and grief. I almost feel like I can relate these days. Locked away in our homes in the midst of this pandemic; seeing how quickly things can change in a week. Anxiety and grief has made some around me wonder when our savior will come.


Well, in case you don’t already know; He is here. Christ has arrived and has fulfilled all that was promised. Still, I encourage you to take the time—I mean, really take the time—to read through the story of Jesus’s last week. (Matthew 26–27:66)


The story is compelling—not just because it has unexpected twists, a determined protagonist, and tension between loyalty and betrayal. It is compelling because it is your story. The story of Jesus’s passion and death is not just a story about Jesus. It is a story about you and your life and the determination of a savior to stop at nothing to get to you. Not even threats of death would stop Jesus from completing the work he had come to do. This story of yours ends with the death of not just Jesus, but the death of your sin, brokenness, and fears as well.


There is that old hymn that asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The answer, of course, is yes we were there. It is not a metaphorically speaking type of yes. It is that you and I were actually there because there was nothing Jesus had on his mind as he made his way to the cross but you. We were there. The cause and the purpose—since it was for our sins that Jesus died, but also it was for our eternal life that he willingly took those sins to the grave and left them there. That’s your story. And my story. To spend time with this part of my story makes me tremble to my bones. The depth of love from the one who came to save is beyond comprehension. All the same, that love is thinking of you.


Make your way through that squeeze of the sand, through that narrow space, because it opens on the other side into new life for you and me and this old world. And look toward the resurrection. It is just on the horizon.


Were You There

Text: African American spiritual


1 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?

2 Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

3 Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

4 Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

5 Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?



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