I was there when they crucified the Lord. Were you? I was there in the garden when the shouting mob of soldiers and ruffians came to arrest Him, armed with swords and staves and bearing torches with which to light the way. I was there in the Judgment Hall as the Pharisees and chief priests hurled at Him their false accusations; I saw them mock Him and curse Him and spit on Him. I was there when the angry mob screamed for his life to be taken so that a filthy insurrectionist, robber, and murderer might go free. I was there in the streets as He struggled under the weight of the cross that He bore on the way to the place where He would die. I was there as the soldiers viciously nailed Him to that same cross and then cast lots to determine which of them would receive his coat. I saw Him suffering torment unimaginable because I was there at the foot of the cross at Calvary. I was there when total and complete darkness consumed all for three hours. I heard Him cry in anguish, questioning why his Father had forsaken Him, and finally, I heard Him when He said that his work was finished. I was there when the Roman soldier thrust his spear into the side of Christ to insure that death had indeed come to this man. I was there when they crucified the Lord. Were you?
In fact, not only was I there when all this took place, but I was a willing participant in it all. With my own voice I accused Him and mocked Him and cried out for his life. With my own hands I slapped Him and pressed on his head the crown of thorns. I personally chose the nails that would fix Him to the cross and then brutally pounded them through his hands and his feet. I thrust the spear into the side of this righteous man who I knew to be the very Son of God. My hands were covered with the blood of the Savior. Not only was I there at that time, but I am there every day of my life. I am even there many times each day. Are you? Are you a sinner? Then you too are there with me as we crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. You too wear the blood stains of Him who was crucified.
How can that be you ask? In a way I have already answered this question. You see, every time we sin we crucify Christ anew in that by our sin we deny the redeeming work that He accomplished on the cross. Each time we sin we fail to mortify our old man. Each time we sin we drive the nails through his hands and feet. Each time we sin we mock Him and beat Him and spit upon Him.
It is the very guilt of our sins that made the cross necessary. Have you ever stopped to think about that young people? Do you think about that when you sin? When you disobey the rules that your parents have set forth, do you see the cross? When you swear and take the Lord’s name in vain, do you see the cross? When you attend parties and become drunk or high, do you see the cross? More importantly, do you see Christ on that cross? You must! I must! It is because of us that He hung there and endured not only the wrath of God but was utterly and completely forsaken by his Father. He only was able to obtain satisfaction for your sins and my sins.
Do not think however that Christ must bear the wrath of God each time we sin. Do not think either that the one sacrifice of the cross was not enough to save us but that He must constantly be crucified in order to obtain salvation for us. This is the error that the Roman Catholic Church holds to in the mass. This is the error of which Question and Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism (speaking of the mass) says: “…so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.” What kind of Savior would He be if his one sacrifice was not enough to pay our debt? The obvious answer is that He would be no Savior at all. And if Christ is no Savior, then God is not God. And if God is not God then our faith and our religion is vain.
And yet knowing and confessing this great truth we sin so easily. We heap sin upon sin without a second thought. Especially it seems, although most certainly not exclusively, when we are young, because after all we are invincible are we not? It seems to us that we have many years ahead of us and though we sin often in our youth we will eventually mature and sin will become more of an issue in our lives. When we get older we will become more concerned about it. But while we are young we want to have fun. And if we are going to have real fun we must sin, at least a little bit because that is really what fun is, isn’t it?
If that is our mindset, and sadly it is, we are running at break-neck speed down the broad path that leads inevitably to hell. If that is the way in which you are going, young person, stop! By the grace of God stop! Life does not go on forever. There are no guarantees that you will live eighty or ninety years. It may be that God requires your soul before this day is done. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to face Jesus Christ, the righteous judge and give an account of your life? Sure, it is easy for those left behind to think about this when God takes a child or young person home suddenly. It is simple in the time surrounding such an event to admit to ourselves that life is fleeting and we are but a breath. It is even quite easy to live our lives for a short time with this in mind. But this must be our confession every day! We must live our lives as though each hour could be our last. Not, of course, to get as much out of life as we can but to give our all to God. He has saved us, after all. He gave his only Son, rejected and despised, and suffered Him to be crucified. For us. For you and for me.
And so those who crucify are also crucified. The old man of sin who cried out among that mob for the Lord Jesus Christ to be put to death is now put to death with Him. The old man of sin who at one time stood in opposition to the Savior now hangs along side of Him and hears the Lord’s words; “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” In his death we also died, or more specifically, our old man of sin died. If that is the case, and it certainly is as we see from Romans 6, then we are also alive in Him. By and through his death He killed that old man of sin that lives in each one of us and thereby delivers us from the bondage of sin. This does not mean however that we no longer sin but that we are no longer servants to sin, unable to break the bands by which it holds us. Christ in his death and resurrection destroyed the dominion that sin had over us.
If our old man is dead then it follows that the new man in Christ lives. The new man rose from the dead with Him on that glorious resurrection morning so that now as He lives, you and I live too. No longer are we held fast by the power of sin but by His resurrection we are delivered from its control. What an amazing truth that is!
It is essential that we understand that these are not just abstract events in history or even simple fables as so many today would have us believe. Jesus Christ was hanged on a cross, He died and was buried, and He arose from the dead on the third day the victor over death. This He did because of you and me. This He did for you and me. Our Lord Jesus Christ died so that we may live. This fact humbles us to the dust as well it should. It also gives us the greatest joy. Greatest joy when we take loved ones to the grave. Greatest joy when we ourselves face that last enemy. Greatest joy because in and through his death we are already victorious.
I was there when they crucified the Lord. Were you?