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I Was There

by Gene Wagner

Although my lifeless body hung cold and twisting from the bough,
Somehow I could see what I had brought upon my master now.
I was sure his angel armies would come to set us free.
He had been our hope for freedom from Roman tyranny.
I had not thought that he would need to die upon that pole.
What had I gained for thirty coins? In fact, I lost my soul.
Yes I, Judas Iscariot was there.

I was there
My sons and I had journeyed there from far Cyrene that day
To spend the sacred Passover, a visit each Jew must pay.
But then we saw a dying man, his cross he could not bear.
He stumbled and fell, and I was forced to take his cross up there.
I only knew that from his eyes, he gave me grace sublime.
The cross I bore held all my sins, and all was new in time.
Yes I, Simon of Cyrene was there.

I was there
But I hid among the shadows, full distraught with guilt and fears,
My soul a whiling pool of shame, my eyes still wet with tears.
Though among the twelve, I said first, "You are the Christ, I know,"
Three time I swore I knew him not, and then the cock did crow.
Three times the hammer struck the nails, three times they struck my heart.
Three crosses stood against the sky. Would I could take his part.
Yes I, Simon Peter was there.

I was there.
It was my simple order from Pilate's official hand,
So I let my troops have their fun in torturing this man.
But when he hung upon his cross, and clouds rolled in the sky,
In all his pain, he did not curse, but looked me in the eye.
And when he prayed, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do,"
I knew he must be God's own son, and meant that for me too.
Yes I, the Centurion, was there.

I was there.
I hung beside him on a cross, in pain beyond belief.
I knew he did not deserve to die, there beside a thief.
I took a chance, I had no breath and words were hard to form,
"Jesus, remember me, when you into your kingdom come."
I could but hope, and then he said, amid the taunts and cries,
"Truly I say, you shall be with me, today in paradise."
Yes I, the thief on the cross, was there.

I was there.
I rocked his sweet infant body and fed him at my breast.
He grew, and all I knew was a great love that would not rest.
Was he all that the angel said, a man of destiny?
Or was he a man of sorrows that now he seemed to be?
My heart broke as I saw his pain, his agony in full.
The soldier pierced his sacred side, his sword has pierced my soul.
Yes I, Mary, his mother, was there.

I was there.
I looked on with the Sanhedrin. How could I them refuse?
They were just angry at the sign, "This is the King of Jews."
I followed him, that Nazarene, but could not let them know.
When he was tried, I dared not say that they should let him go.
So when he died upon that cross, it would not hurt my name
To give to him my own new tomb--and bury all my shame.
Yes I, Joseph of Arimathea was there.

I was there.
I watched as they buried him in that awful, cold, dry grave.
He was no more, and we were lost, whom he had tried to save.
Yet on the firs day I returned, despite my deep despair.
I fell and cried, confused, distraught! His body was not there!
Then someone spoke, said my name, and in the morning glow,
I saw again my Master's face. He lives! And all must know!
Yes I, Mary Magdalene was there.

I too was there.
I was there as now I read the sacred gospel story.
I saw Jesus on that cross, and darkness reign in glory.
I saw his body laid in cloths within that stone, cold tomb.
I saw the stone was rolled away. I saw an empty room.
I saw that he had died for me, to wipe away my sin.
I saw him open heaven's gate and bid us now come in.
Yes, even I was there,

Were you there?

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This poem won 1st place for the March 2014 poetry contest

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Click Here to contact Gene Wagner to request permission to use this poem.