I’m enjoying these meditations by Ken Gardiner found here.
“And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.” (Matt. 27:36)
Words are strange things; for their size they carry so much meaning, especially when they are put together, as in the present case:- HIM THERE!
Why, there isn’t even a verb, and yet those two little words using only eight letters in all, contain the greatest mystery this world has ever known.
Him There. HIM! … THERE! It’s putting them together, of course,
that gives the wealth of meaning. If we spoke only of ‘HIM’, there would be no surprise,
for he could be anywhere; All things were made by him,
and without him was not anything made
that was made. It is his world, he made it, and so
he might be anywhere within it. And if we spoke only of ‘THERE’,
that would be no surprise. It wasn’t an every-day occurrence,
but common enough; after all two others were THERE, on their own crosses; one on either side of him.
What causes the astonishment is that it should be
And what about in heaven? Were the angels watching?
They came and sang at his birth, were they there at his death also?
There was one angel, of course, who knew of it. Luke records that he came to the garden of Gethsemane
to strengthen Christ as he prayed in agony. But did the hosts of heaven know? If so, they must have been in dread and awe
to see their Lord, their King, upon the cross. To see HIM, THERE!
And what of Satan? Had he ever really believed that he would triumph, as he thought, and put HIM – THERE?
The soldiers did not know, of course. They were foreigners and they were far from home. So they made what sport they could –
to pass the time. Religious festivals meant little enough to them. Most criminals with whom they had to do
were, no doubt, tough and surly men; like the other two that day, who cursed and swore as the nails were driven in.
But HE was different; claiming to be a king. So they made a crown of thorns,
and dressed him in a purple robe,
and knelt before him. If only they had known…
they would have knelt indeed,
not in mockery, but awe. But as it was they did not know;
and so, when they had sorted out who would have what of his clothes (for those were their perks at crucifixions) they sat down to start their watch over HIM THERE.
They were not surprised, why should they be? Because for that you have to understand
who he was, and very few knew that. It is the same today. If you and I were to stop some passers-by
along the street and say, “Today’s the day
they put Jesus on a cross,” what would they do? Perhaps they’d be embarrassed, and so would we;
because they do not know, anymore than the soldiers, who he was, who he is, who was there.
But we do know; and we have come together to keep our watch over HIM THERE: to remind ourselves what it was he did – and why.
And as we do – with all our wonder that HE should be THERE,
remember this; it was no surprise to him. All though his life, or certainly
from his baptism and testing in the wilderness, he had known. Imagine; all the time he taught, and healed the sick, and drew the crowds, he knew how it was to end.
He had carried that thought with him all the time. In heaven, it had been planned
from before the world was made. For there was a cross in the heart of God
long before it stood on Calvary. “What shall I say, ‘Father save me from this hour’?
No, for it was for this hour I came.” For him this was the culmination of his coming;
what it was for.
It is this alone gives meaning to creation: HIM! – THERE!
Jeremy Berg is the founding pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Mound, MN, and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Jeremy is currently doing doctoral studies in New Testament Context with Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary. He obtained a Master's degree in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary (2005) and a Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies from Bethel University (2002). Most importantly, he's lucky to be married to Kjerstin and the proud daddy of Peter, Isaak and Abigail.
View all posts by Jeremy Berg