It’s the beginning of Holy Week, and so I thought it was appropriate for Music Monday to post one of my favorite old hymns by Johnny Cash called “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I found this live video of Johnny with the Carter sisters:
I wasn’t there when they crucified my Lord. I wasn’t there when they took Him from the cross. I wasn’t there when they laid Him in the tomb. I wasn’t there when the stone was rolled away. But I’ve read the testimony of those who witnessed all of these events. And just thinking of these things that He did for me causes me to tremble.
There were many witnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. As necessary as these events were for our salvation, if they had been the end of the story it wouldn’t have been enough. The greatest of these events is the Resurrection. The account of the first witnesses to the Resurrection was recorded in Matthew 28:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8 (NIV).
One thing I find quite interesting about this passage is that the first witnesses were the women. During this time, the testimony of a woman was not admissible in a court and essentially meant nothing. But both the angel of the Lord, and further on in the passage Jesus, tell them to go tell the disciples what had happened. And Matthew, in his effort to give a full and accurate account of the event, told it like it happened.
I have heard arguments that Jesus did not really rise from the dead, but that the disciples stole His body from the tomb and then made up a story about His resurrection. But if the disciples were trying to perpetrate a fraud and wanted to convince others that their lie was true, they would never have told it in such a way as to rely on the testimony of women.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there when Jesus was crucified, when they took Him from the cross, when they laid Him in the tomb, and even when the stone was rolled away. Their testimony of what they saw has been passed on to us today in the Gospels and I choose to accept the testimony of these women. How about you? I know you weren’t there either, but you can trust the witness of those who were.