Were You There?
Sermon Summary
This message follows an old spiritual song written by slaves in the south many years ago. The song itself is a testimony of how God worked in the lives of our black brothers and sisters during a very difficult time in their history and a very dark time in ours. However, what Jesus did on that old rugged cross has the power to bring us together as brothers and sisters in Christ! Following the singing of each of the verses of this song, a portion of the Scripture describing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were read. During the first part of the message we remembered the sacrifice of Christ by taking the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. At the end of the message we celebrated the resurrection by baptizing seven individuals who had made the decision to follow Jesus!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What are some of your most fond Easter memories?

2. We couldn’t celebrate Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day without what happened on Good Friday many years ago. Given the brutality of that day, why do we call it “Good Friday?”
Heb 12:2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Rom 5:6  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Rom 5:7  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
Rom 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
Rom 5:10  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Rom 5:11  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

3. Jesus suffered great humility and great pain on the cross! It seems this would have been enough to provide for our forgiveness, but Jesus literally died and was buried. Discuss why it was so important for Jesus to literally die and be placed in the tomb.
1 Cor 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Baptism paints such a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. It also paints a beautiful picture of the new life we live once we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives. Using the following Scriptures, discuss how baptism paints these pictures.
Rom 6:3  Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Rom 6:5  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Rom 6:6  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--
Rom 6:7  because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Rom 6:8  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Full Sermon Notes
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow! We've been talking about the stories in the Story. This is the Story!!  We celebrate Easter Sunday because of what was done on Good Friday years ago. What was good about it? Why would we even call it good? I'm mean Jesus was tortured and suffered a horrible death. He was innocent and yet found guilty. He was in essence, murdered. So why call it good? Because it was good for us that Jesus was willing to pay it all. What did He pay with, and what did He pay for? Good questions we'll answer today.

Let's pray and then I have a question for you this morning.

"Father God, we come today with extremely grateful hearts! What you allowed Your only begotten Son to do for us on that old rugged Cross many years is hard to fathom. It's hard to get our minds wrapped around that kind of love, that kind of sacrifice. We are reminded of that most beautiful passage in Your Word..."For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten, His one and only Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life! For You did not send Your Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him!" Today we celebrate the resurrection, but we know today would not be possible if it had not been for that Friday,  many years ago, the Friday we now call Good Friday. Teach us today, inspire us today, motivate us today to live everyday in the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to never forget His sacrifice! Amen

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Speak, were you there?) Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross? (Speak-Where you there?) Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross? (Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) Tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?

Mark 15:15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.
17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.

20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was the third hour when they crucified him.
26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.

So Jesus paid it all! What did He pay with?
He paid with His very life! He paid by having His flesh torn, and His blood spilled. What did He pay for? He paid for my sins and yours! He paid a debt He didn't owe, because we owed a debt we couldn't pay! When I ask were you there, you might say, "of course not, that was a long time ago!" Yes it was, but we are told by Jesus to never, ever forget, and He gave us a way to be there. It's not exactly time travel, but close. If you're heart's in the right place The Holy Spirit will take you back there in your heart and mind to that time! How? It's called the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion! Jesus did this with His disciples a short time before His arrest.

Our ushers are now going to pass out a little container which includes a small piece of bread and a small amount of juice. Just hold on to it and I'll give you directions in just a moment! If you've made the decision to accept Jesus' sacrifice as your payment for sin, you are welcome to participate in this walk back in time. You don't have to be a member of this church! If you've accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are a part of the Body of Christ, His Church, His family. Prepare your hearts as the ushers are passing out the bread and juice containers. If you don't wish to participate, just pass the basket to the next person. No pressure.

When I think of what Jesus paid for and how He paid for it, I'm reminded of the way Isaiah explained this in a prophesy hundreds of years prior…Isaiah 53:off

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

I'm going to pray and if you would like to pray with me, feel free to do so. You can pray in your heart or out loud!

"Jesus, thank You for being willing to pay my debt! You must love me so much! I'm such a sinner, yet you offer forgiveness no matter what I've done. But I want You to know I'm truly sorry for my sin! I want You to cleanse me with Your precious and righteous blood, and heal my spiritual brokenness through Your broken flesh! We take these symbols of Your flesh and blood in remembrance of Your gift to us! Take us back to that terrible day in history we now call Good Friday. Only You could take such a series of tragic events and make good come from them! We will never forget Your sacrifice Jesus, not ever! Amen!"

Pull the little tab on top of your container and remove the bread and hold it in your hand while we hear the words of Jesus. Follow my lead when I eat the bread.

Luke 22:15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.
18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Now, remember the whip, the fist, the nails, the crown of thorns, and the sword in His side, His body broken for us! Take the bread!

Now, remove the top to the juice and listen to His words...

Luke 22:20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Now, remember the blood that flowed from His wounds. Remember that His Blood symbolized His perfect life poured out in sacrifice for our imperfect lives. Remember His willingness to become a sin offering in order to remove the stain of guilt from your life and mine! Take the cup!

The ushers will now pass another container down each isle for you to put your emptys  in. 

Jesus not only died that day, something else happened that is so important for you and me. Listen...

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? (Speak-Where you there?) Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

John 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.
42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Why is it so important that we know Jesus died and was buried? Wasn't it enough that He suffered, was beaten, mocked, ridiculed, and nailed to a cross? Jesus' suffering was certainly enough to take our punishment our shame, and our guilt. But you see Jesus wanted to do even more! More? Yes, more!

1 Cor 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, Jesus wanted to do more! He wanted to defeat death and the grave! In order to do that He had to die.

Jesus wasn't asleep, He was dead! In fact, medical experts have concluded that when Jesus' side was pierced and blood and water poured out, this may have been a result of the extreme torture. Jesus probably experienced hypovolemic shock. This condition can cause fluid to build up around the heart and the lungs, and thus the mixture of blood and water. The point is Jesus literally gave His life. This was no trick! The soldiers knew He was dead and didn't break His limbs. The disciples knew it and were devastated!
The women who followed Jesus knew it and were prepared to anoint His body with the custom burial spices. Even the Pharisees knew it. Listen...

Matthew 27:62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Now isn't that something. Even after Jesus was dead, His enemies still feared Him. They knew He was dead but feared His words of resurrection might be true. Of course they didn't want the Romans to think they were worried about that so they said, "we're only worried because the disciples might steal His body! And when the unthinkable happened, this is the story they stuck with! "They stole Him!" And speaking of the unthinkable...

Were you there when the stone was rolled away? (Speak-Where you there?) Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

The stone that was placed in front of the tomb was no small stone. Mark's gospel tells us it was very large! In fact listen to the concern the women had as they were going to anoint Jesus' body...

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

Did you know that question still exist for many of us today but in a slightly different form? We all have things in our lives that may seem like immovable stones. Like the stone of doubt, the stone of discouragement, the stone of depression, the stone of temptation, the stone of pain, the stone of grief, the stone of bitterness, the stone of brokenness, the stone of hopelessness, the stone of pride, the stone of loneliness, the stone of hardship, or for some of our brothers and sisters around the world, the stone of persecution, but no matter what stone stands in your way, I'm here to tell you the same power that rolled away the stone and allowed Jesus to rise up from that grave, to walk out of that tomb, that same power is available and accessible to you today. We all know Jesus could have just walked through that stone, but the symbolism, and the awesome picture that was painted by moving the stone gives us a visual illustration of the power of Almighty God and the ultimate victory for those who have put their trust in Him! And notice I said ultimate victory. Why say it this way? Jesus said this in John 16...

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Matthew described the awesome details of Jesus' ultimate victory and resurrection in his gospel, chapter 28...

Matthew 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 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.

He sat on it. I think this was God's way of showing us that what may be a large stone to us, is just a tiny pebble to God!! Remember that when you face huge obstacles in your life. Now I love what happens next…the angle of the Lord had rolled back the stone and sat on it…

3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
7 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.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

What a powerful visual, an earthquake, an angel of the Lord, huge stone rolled away, and better still, Jesus Himself appears to them!
Some of you might be thinking today, "Sure wish I could have been there! I want to believe, but it's so hard for me. You see...

I have a hard time believing all of this. It sounds really good, but I just don't know if I can. I need to see!"
Well I've got good news for you today. I want to give you something to think about and then we are going to paint a living picture for you!

One of the most convincing proofs of the reality of Christ and what He did on that old rugged Cross is found in the testimony of those who were literally there. They had seen Jesus alive after His death and burial and when confronted about this later, under threat of death, they would not recant! Now we all know history is full of people who died for things that were lies, but they believed they were true. However, very few, if any, would ever die for something they knew was a lie!

If the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus, and knew He was dead, I'm pretty sure they would not have died for a lie they knew to be a lie! At some point one of them would have said, "Ok, we stashed Him over there!" But not a single one of the disciples after the death and resurrection ever recanted. And they didn't go hide in secret, no, they lived their lives and gave their lives for the sake of the gospel, the good news that Jesus really did die, was buried and was raised to life on the third day!

And one of the most convincing proofs today of the reality of Christ and what He did on that old rugged Cross is found in the testimony of those who have allowed The Holy Spirit to take them back in time to see God's love nailed to a tree! The testimony of people who may have doubted the very authenticity of the Bible's story, but decided to step out in faith and ask God to forgive them and to save them! That simple child-like step, rolled away the stone from their heart and allowed Jesus to walk into their life. The change is palatable, it's indisputable, it's glorious, it's inspiring, it's convincing! And we have some of those who've made the decision to follow Jesus here today and they want to paint a living picture for you. A picture of how Jesus, died, was buried and yet rose to life. A picture of how they died to their old ways  and buried their old self, and how God's resurrection power rolled away the stone that had kept them locked in a spiritual tomb, and has allowed them to be risen to walk a brand new life! As they come to paint this living picture, listen to this passage...

Romans 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin —

Baptism, then prayer leading to invitation.