Summary: Witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus had differing effects on the people gathered that day, and it has similar differing effects today.

“Were You There?” David Owens

Text: Matthew 27:32-56 3/28/99

Thesis: Witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus had differing effects on the people gathered that day, and it

has similar differing effects today.

Aim: To help us take another look at the cross that we might be transformed.


A. The young waitress in the restaurant was taken back by the question, “Why are you wearing that cross?”

1. To her it was a piece of jewelry, the kind of things lots of people wear.

2. She had never been asked about its significance, and to her it had little.

B. A tourist bought a brass souvenir called a “Tuareg (Tor-egg) cross”.

1. It has a diamond-shaped center with four projections coming from each point.

2. The trinket is not shaped like a typical cross, but it is a cross nonetheless.

3. Amazingly, this cross is the symbol of the nomadic Tuareg (Tor-egg) people of the Sahara Desert in northern Africa.

4. What is surprising about this is the fact that the Tuareg people are Muslim, not Christian.

5. Historians and anthropologists are not sure where the Tuareg cross came from or why it is so important to these people.

6. Somewhere along the line, the cross’ meaning has been lost.

C. If we are not careful, the same can happen with us.

1. We are surrounded with images of the cross. There are crosses on jewelry, crosses on church buildings, even crosses out on the highways we travel.

2. We come together as a church every Sunday and we turn our attention to the cross as we participate in the Lord’s Supper.

3. But does all this exposure heighten our awareness to the cross and its meaning, or does it desensitize us to the cross and its meaning?

4. The answer is found only in the individual mind and heart of each person.

D. That is the case today, and that was the case 2000 years ago.

1. Witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus had differing effects on the people gathered that day, and it has similar differing effects today.

2. What I hope to do today is to help us take another look at the cross so that its meaning might bring about the necessary transformation in our lives.

3. Let’s go back to the cross and see who was present that day, and perhaps we will see ourselves in some of those people.

4. Where you there when they crucified our Lord? I think you were.

5. But a better and more important question is: How did you and are you responding to the Lord?

I. The People Who Watched the Event

Mt 27:32-37) “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: This is Jesus, The King of the Jews.”

A. Present that day were the DUTY KEEPERS.

1. These “duty keepers” were the many Roman Soldiers responsible for the crucifixion.

2. To them it was just another day at the office. They had no doubt been through scores of crucifixions, and these were the same as the others: two common thieves and an insurrectionist.

3. So they went through all the usual motions:

a. Parade out of the city.

b. Undress the man and attach him to the cross, either with ropes, or nails, or both. We know that Jesus was nailed to the cross, because “doubting” Thomas would not believe unless he saw the nail marks in his hands.

c. Put the cross in place, and then try to pass the time until the man is dead.

d. The worst parts about the job, no doubt, were the boredom and the heat.

4. The text rather plainly says, “And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.”

5. There really wasn’t much else to do other than to sit patiently and watch.

6. The people on the cross weren’t going any where.

7. Perhaps the only danger was that someone might come and help the person escape off the cross, and avoid punishment.

8. When we come to the cross for Sunday worship, or our daily walk, are we just going through the motions?

9. Are we just there because it is our duty? You know, just put in our time so that we can get our heavenly paycheck.

10. Are we in a hurry to get this thing over with so that we can get on with what we really enjoy in our lives?

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