Devotion

The Times News has teamed up with area clergy to share "Words of Comfort," a 350-400 word devotional, daily in the print edition and online at TimesNews.Net. Any member of the clergy who'd like to get involved can contact Carmen Musick at cmusick@timesnews.net.

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? Were you there when the blood and water poured? Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Were you there when they took Him from the cross? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when the stone was rolled away?”

This very old anonymous text and tune with spiritual slave-song history is haunting and reverberates with the sorrow and agony of being cruelly punished. I first heard it last year on YouTube while looking for Easter songs. It is very compelling and captivating. It reminds us that the awesome, only-begotten son of God’s sacrifice caused not only the hearts of men to fail, but the earth itself to tremble. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

He didn’t just die; He died an excruciating death. In antiquity, crucifixion was considered one of the most brutal and shameful modes of death. According to internet sources, it probably originated with the Assyrians and Babylonians. It was used systematically by the Persians in the sixth century BC. Alexander the Great brought it from there to the eastern Mediterranean countries in the fourth century BC, and the Phoenicians introduced it to Rome in the third century BC. The Romans perfected crucifixion over a period of 500 years; until it was abolished by Constantine 1 in the fourth century AD. Crucifixion in Roman times was applied mostly to slaves, disgraced soldiers, Christians and foreigners — only very rarely to Roman citizens. Christ was no slave. He was not a disgraced soldier. However, He was a Christian and a foreigner in that His citizenship was in Heaven. He laid down His life that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

It wasn’t the nails that held Him to the cross; it was LOVE. He wore the thorny crown. He endured the humiliation. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) While the Passover lamb was being prepared in the homes of the Israelites, at Calvary The LAST Passover lamb: firstborn male, perfect, without blemish was being offered once and for all. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is lost in victory.” (1Corinthians 15:55). Christ is triumphant!

Because He lives, we can live also. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when the stone was rolled away?” Just be there.

Penny Gilliam Hagy is co-pastor of Evangel Family Worship Center in Kingsport.

Penny Gilliam Hagy is co-pastor of Evangel Family Worship Center in Kingsport.

Penny Gilliam Hagy is co-pastor of Evangel Family Worship Center in Kingsport.