One of my favorite Passion Week hymns is “Were You There?” I have formative memories of it being sung by a lone baritone in a darkened church, the haunting postlude to a Tenebrae service. Today, as I listened to the provocative question sung once more on a “Holy Week” Spotify playlist, I felt an answer stirring in my soul:
Yes. I was there. With Christ, I have been crucified and it is no longer I who live.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20, ESV
As we sing this week, let us not leave these convicting questions unanswered. Instead, may the meditations of our hearts respond to the words of our mouths (Psalm 19:14). Let’s walk through this hymn together, examining ourselves in response to its questions, for they are not rhetorical to those who believe.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Yes, for it was my sin that held Him there. My own skepticism finds it place with the scoffers, my pride with the deniers, and my cruelty with the soldiers.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Yes, for my former self hung with Him upon the cross, hidden in His pierced side and washed clean by His blood.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Yes, for the former has been laid aside as I wait in the “already-but-not-yet” of the Christian life.
Were you there when God raised Him from the tomb?
May our collective answer to this be a resounding “Yes!” Yes, we have been raised with Christ to seek the things that are above, where the resurrected Christ sits at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1).
This Holy Week, may we honestly confront the questions we sing. Perhaps your answers are other than those I’ve presented; if so, I pray that you wrestle with them in prayer and fellowship, seeking the conviction and assurance being crucified and raised with Christ—of being there in both His death and resurrection.