Devotional Thoughts Based on the Glory to God Hymnal
35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;[a] 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided[b] him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself.[c] He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land[d] until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”[e] 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.[f] 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[g]
55 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.
Here I go dating myself again! Oh, well, it is what I remember. The television series was not titled Were You There, but You Are There. The television series ran from 1953 to 1972 and was hosted by Walter Cronkite. The 154 episodes featured reenactments of great events in history. I don’t know whether the crucifixion of Jesus was examined, but it was certainly the most notable of any that might have been filmed.
This African American spiritual asks:
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?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
The extent of Jesus’ suffering and that of the slaves is captured in the moving “O!” Contemplating Jesus’ suffering for our sake causes us to tremble, as we sing this spiritual, We are There, witnessing the Passion of Christ.
Thank You, God, for so living the world that you gave Your son, Jesus. Keep us mindful of Your love for us and how great that love was and is that Jesus suffered and died for us. In His name, we pray. Amen.